After a year and a half living in Tokyo, Japan, I have returned home to the UK! As I didn’t have enough time to write a normal Thinking in English episode for today, I thought I would do something a little different and talk about why I left Japan, my journey back home, how I’m feeling, and what is next for me! And, at the same time, we can learn and practise our English vocabulary!!
You may also like…
Why not support Thinking in English?
Help to support the podcast by making a one-time donation! I would love to buy a new mic, and pay for a better blog/podcast host…
Help to support the podcast by making a monthly donation! I would love to buy a new mic, and pay for a better blog/podcast host
Help to support the podcast by making a yearly donation! I would love to buy a new mic, and pay for a better blog/podcast host…
Choose an amount
Or donate what you like!
Thank you so much for your donation! Reach out to me on Instagram, or by the contact form above, and I’ll be happy to thank you in person!
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly
Why I left Japan!
Why was I in Japan?
I think a good place to start is why I was living in Tokyo in the first place! I’ve actually recorded a full and detailed episode on this for my Patreon subscribers (I recommend subscribing over there to listen to the full thing)… but here is a short explanation!
I have lived in Japan twice. I first moved to the country in 2016 to become an assistant language teacher in elementary and junior high schools in the countryside. Originally, my plan was to stay for one year, but I enjoyed my time so much I decided to extend my contract for an extra year.
Moving to Japan was never a goal or ambition of mine – I wanted to do a master’s degree in the UK but I didn’t have enough money. Working abroad was a way for me to gain a little experience, save some money, and see a new part of the world – and out of all of the jobs I looked at… the one in Japan had the best contract!
Two years living in Japan introduced me to a lot of new things – a new language, new people, new culture, and much more. While I enjoyed most of my time teaching in Japan, I had always planned to go back to the UK to study for a master’s degree in politics. I wanted to learn more about Japan and the region, and for that reason decided to specialise in Asian politics during my master’s degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
During this degree, my professors recommended I apply for scholarships to study further… and I was accepted to two different government funded programmes. One of which was to study in Japan as a research student for a year and a half!
So that was why I was living in Tokyo – I was a research student at Waseda University in central Tokyo. And Thinking in English was something I did as a hobby and in my spare time. As I already mentioned, you should listen to my episode on Patreon for a full description of how I ended up in Japan!
Never miss an episode
Why did I decide to leave?
Why have I left Japan? Well, the first thing is that I’m pretty sure I will move back to Japan next year… so I’ve not left forever. But I am no longer a resident of Japan!
Although I enjoyed the experience of studying and researching, I quickly realised that Japan was not the best place for me to do a full postgraduate degree. Delays due to the pandemic, classes being almost completely online, and a lack of communication from the university office meant I didn’t enjoy my first few months.
And discussions with my supervisor and other professors made it clear that the UK or USA would be much better places to study for a PhD in the future. So… I made the decision to leave the university at the end of September/beginning of October 2022.
Looking for a job in Japan proved challenging. Many of the jobs I saw posted online required a fluent level of Japanese (something I don’t yet have). And jobs requiring lower levels of Japanese were not appealing – I couldn’t imagine myself working as a recruiter or working as a normal English teacher.
At the same time, Thinking in English kept growing and growing. I launched a Patreon – and was amazed that people actually wanted to support the podcast and join! I’ve held meetings with companies interested in working with the show. And I have so many ideas on how to make Thinking in English bigger and better!
In this context, I made the decision to go back home for a few months. I want to dedicate my time and effort into building Thinking in English into a major podcast, and spend time with my parents and grandparents.
- Bonus Episodes
- Extra Content
- Live Chats
- Language Meet ups
- English Classes
- And Much More!
My Journey Home
What have I been doing since October?
As I mentioned previously, I left the university at the beginning of October. So what have I been doing since then?
I moved out of my apartment in the middle of October. While I didn’t have too many belongings, it is always a challenge to pack your whole life into suitcases. And as I didn’t have a car in Tokyo, I would carry bags of unwanted items to try and sell at the local second hand store – things like my water kettle, coffee making equipment, an old microphone, and lights.
Once I was fully packed, I sent my belongings to a friend of mine living in the centre of Tokyo who had offered to store my suitcases while I travelled around! Moving in Japan requires a lot of paperwork – I spent hours in the city hall terminating my health insurance, discussing tax information, and informing different departments that I will be moving to another country. I also had to cancel my bank accounts and phone contract!
Aside from this paperwork, I spent most of my last few weeks between Fukushima prefecture in northern Japan and Tokyo. In Fukushima, I spent time in the mountains, relaxed in cafes, spent time with people important to me, and attended a wedding.
In Tokyo, I visited DisneyLand and DisneySea, played board games with friends, spent time at my favourite bar and cafe, and watched a World Championship boxing fight in the Saitama arena!
My final day in Tokyo was spent buying a few last minute souvenirs for family back in the UK, then drinking a lovely cup of coffee in a traditional cafe, and meeting my friends for some food!
Trains and flights
Then… It was time to make the long journey home. Due to COVID-19, inflation, economic problems, and Japan’s strict border lockdowns, it is not cheap to fly back to the UK. After a lot of searching and comparing airlines, I decided the easiest and most affordable way home would be flying Cathay pacific with a stopover in Hong Kong.
I’m a tall guy – around 190cm tall – so flying is never an enjoyable experience. My legs and back always hurt after sitting in the small plane seats. And I always struggle to sleep.
The journey back to the UK took around 32 hours from door to door. I left my friend’s apartment in the morning and grabbed some lunch. Then, I took the train to Tokyo Haneda airport, arriving a few hours before the flight. My bags were already at the airport (I had sent them 2 days earlier), so after I picked them up I could check in to the flight and head through security.
In total, I spent around 20 hours flying back to the UK – and in that time I ate 3 meals, drank 4 whiskeys, ordered 2 egg custard tarts in Hong Kong airport, and watched 7 or 8 movies. The best movie I watched was probably the new Top Gun… and the worst movie was definitely Morbius – don’t watch it!
After the long 14 hour journey from Hong Kong to London, we landed at 5am and I was picked up at the airport by my parents!
What is Next?
So… what is next? First, I want to spend time relaxing with my friends, parents, and grandparents. Moving country is a really stressful experience, so I think I definitely need to sleep for a few days to recharge and clear my mind!
Will I move back to Japan? Probably! But I’m not sure how or when I will move back right now. However, if I get a great offer from another country, I’m definitely willing to visit and travel to other places! If you have a second home somewhere warm… why not let me stay for the winter months?
In all seriousness, I’m not 100% what the future holds… but I’m excited to see what happens!
How about the future of Thinking in English? Will it continue now I’m back in the UK? Yes. Yes it will!
I am determined, more than ever, to turn Thinking in English into my job! And I believe that by the end of 2023… Thinking in English will be one of the most exciting and developing brands in educational podcasts.
And I have so many ideas on things to do! I want to launch a new podcast series; I want to grow my YouTube and social media accounts; I want to redesign and improve my website; I want to grow the Patreon and offer more conversation groups; I want to design courses and lesson plans; and much more!
In fact, let me know if there is anything you would like Thinking in English to do in 2023!
Do you want to Think in English?
I’m so excited that you found my blog and podcast!! If you don’t want to miss an article or an episode, you can subscribe to my page!
This episode is quite different from my usual content – I didn’t have time to write or research an episode because I was flying back to the UK and couldn’t find the energy to research a topic today.
But hopefully you have found my journey back to the UK an interesting story. And I really want to know your ideas for the future of Thinking in English – let me know what you want to see from me in the future!!
Have you ever lived in another country?