Through the Lens Thursday: Is It Time to Leave Japan?

It’s time to decide. In two weeks, I have to let my bosses know whether I want to extend my teaching contract in Japan for six months to a year.  Truth is, I both really want to leave and stay.

You can imagine all the usual reasons for wanting to call it quits — family, friends back home. I also want to make sure that in the next year I can travel a bit more. I feel this need in the center of my chest to get back to Montreal. Last time I was there, I was still so anxious about being alone that I cut my trip short by two days. I was there for a night, a visit to the market, and a gut-filling trip to La Banquise.

Whether my craving for the City of a Hundred Steeples or my want to get to Spain to finally take that hike along el Camino de Santiago, these are things I feel I must do before I head to graduate school in the fall of 2016. I’m just not quite done in Japan.

I can’t leave my kids yet. They’re growing and learning to speak English in a way I didn’t expect. With big staff changes at my school, I feel like I need to be there for the transition, at least for six months. My Japanese, too, is just reaching some semblance of fluency. If I leave now, just when things are getting good, what will have been the point of all this?

So, while so much of me wants to see other parts of the world, to spend lazy summers getting drunk on mom and dad’s patio — or at the wonderful Victoire in Rochester with friends — it’s just not the time. Montreal will still be there in another six months.

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Five Things I Learned About Montrealers in the First 24 Hours

As an enclave for French speakers and European culture in the Western hemisphere, it’s too easy to assume that the people of Montreal — in all their shapes, styles, subcultures, and colors — are just like their counterparts in Paris, Lyon, and other famous francophone cities. What you find out very quickly is while there are certainly similarities between the French and Montrealers, these are a people who have their own complex identity. These are just a few of the things I managed to learn about those who call the City of Saints home.

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The Slow Crawl to Montréal

I’ve come to terms with there likely being no big trip for me this year. Mounting student loan payments, cyber criminals: it’s been one sudden financial pitfall after another. Luckily, all of the money raised from my Indiegogo campaign a few months back remains in protected form. I’ve got the gear. I’ve got the plane ticket. I just keep finding myself running out of time to get the money that, for one reason or another, keeps being taken by somebody with terrible timing.

Enough is Enough. Time to Go

The thing about travel writing is, well, you can’t really do it unless you travel. While it seems my plans for Spain will be put off until spring 2015, I can take a number of smaller trips over the next few months. Montréal is my first stop. I found a beautiful place on AirBnB near the Old City. At the moment, I only know I want to get some poutine, explore Atwater Market, and meet some interesting new people around a few beers.

I’ll be gone for five days, and since I’m no longer giving up my job, not until that Spain trip finally happens, I’ll be getting paid for three of those. It’s not a perfect situation, but since I can still work, I can travel to Montréal here in a few weeks, hit New York City in September, and explore all that Boston has to offer in November. In other words, this project, set up to be all about travel, will finally have some fresh experience to be filled with.

Now, the next two weeks need to cooperate and start going faster.

Do you live in Montréal, or do you visit often? What are some of the things I need to eat, drink, see, or do while I’m in the City of Saints?