Welcome to my expat/travel blog. I’m Jennifer, but my friends gave me the nickname Stewie when I was in elementary school.
I’ve been living in Nagoya, Japan for the last five years, and this blog is all about my experiences living and traveling in Japan and around the world.
This is my story
university –> Japan –> graduate university –> random jobs–> Korea–> marriage –> Japan –> grad school –> soon-to-be PhD student
I have been to 17 countries for travel, vacation, work, or research:
United States, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Japan, Korea, China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Mongolia, Russia, and Singapore and Argentina for a few hours – no, not in the airport.
How I ended up in Japan
I fell in love with Japan sort of by accident. In Canada, students are required to study a certain number of years of French. When I reached grade nine in high school, we could choose which language to study. My school offered French, German, and Japanese at the time, and I didn’t want to continue with French. I had no prior interest or knowledge in anything Japanese, but simply choose Japanese because I thought it was cool that the writing system was so different than the English alphabet.
In grade twelve, I was lucky enough to take part in a short exchange trip to Kyoto during spring break. I stayed with a host family, went to school with my host brother, and saw the famous temples and castles. Unfortunately, I had recently broken my ankle on a snowboarding trip, so I was on crutches the whole time. It was still an amazing experience, but at that time I wasn’t really considering it a place to live in the future.
At 19-years old, after two years in university taking random classes and not knowing what I wanted to major in, I took a year off and came to Japan to teach English. I suppose you would call this my gap year. I came on a working holiday visa and stayed for one year in a small city near Mt. Fuji. It was another incredible time, and I did enjoy it and grew a lot. But to be perfectly honest, I was ready to come home after one year.
So back I came. I did three more years of university, making it a total of six years between when I started and graduation. During those three years, I kept thinking that I wanted to go back overseas, so I also completed my Teaching ESL certificate. I also met my now-husband a few months after I came back from Japan. He’s Japanese and was an international student at my university. He’s the love of my life.
After I graduated, I went to Chile for three months to teach English and live with a host family. When I came back to Canada, I was in that same place of not knowing what to do. I worked in a restaurant and other random jobs until I finally decided that I wanted to go back overseas to live and work. It was a difficult decision to decide to come to Korea for one year because it would mean a long-distance relationship with my then-boyfriend. But we did it. He went to Japan for that year, and we visited each other four times.
I came to Nagoya in 2012, and we were reunited again. We got married in Hawaii two weeks later and then came back to Japan. I started working as an assistant language teacher in an elementary school, and I did that for two years before I was ready to pull my hair out. So I quit and went to a Japanese language school full-time for one year.
I was then back to that place of not know what I wanted to do with my life, so I decided to go back to school for a Master’s degree. I applied and was accepted into a university in Nagoya with a program that can be done entirely in English. Fast forward to March 2017, I will proudly hold a Master’s Degree, and from April I will go on to do a PhD.
I have been living in Nagoya for the last five years working and going to school, with travels around Japan and abroad sprinkled throughout. The city doesn’t get a lot of attention, but I love it.
This blog was started at the end of writing my Master’s Thesis to fill the empty space that had become my days. It has allowed me to reflect on my past travel experiences and memories. I don’t live a nomadic life, but I love traveling. I want to explore the world whenever I get the change, be it overseas or within Japan.
I hope you enjoy reading my blog!