Gap Years—A Story Why Japan Has Kicked Asphalt.

September 17th, 2013By Category: Uncategorized

From the day I mentioned to my parents I wanted to take a gap year before law school, they were pretty much against it from the beginning. The idea of putting off a “real career” to teach in a foreign country just didn’t really sit well with them. When I finally decided on Japan, it was like the Cold War all over again: death glares, silent treatment and sheer denial. I swear, even as I was stepping onto the airplane a year later, they did not believe I was actually leaving. To be honest, I didn’t either.

My last view of America

My last view of America

Like many others, I came to Japan to teach English—speaking no Japanese, knowing nothing about Japan—you know, true Gaijin style. There was something excitingly scary moving to a foreign country and I guess that is why I chose Japan in the first place; I knew absolutely nothing about it. Yeah, I could have chosen any other country in the world, but there was just that something about Japan and made me want to come.

When I finally arrived, the focused freshly-graduated me spent the first six months studying every day for the LSAT. The day the test was over, I felt I could finally enjoy my Japanese life… and I did. Everyday was spent making new friends, learning the culture, and just enjoying experiences I could never do back at home. About 3 months later, I learned that I did very well on the LSAT, and I was accepted into almost all the law schools that I applied for. However, the more I thought about it, the more I knew I couldn’t just leave the country I had learned to love. What did Japan do to me?

Two years later, I still do not really remember why I chose to forgo law school and stay in Japan, but I can say the decision to take a gap year (OK, I know… gap years) in Japan has been the best decision of my life. Living here has changed everything about me: what I thought was important in life, my interests, my beliefs, my style, my attitude… everything. If I didn’t take this break, I would be killing myself in my second year of law school right now. Instead, I have opened my mind to a new culture. I have picked up Japanese from just constantly hanging out with Japanese friends. I have been able to move to central Tokyo and just recently, I have been hired at the biggest international law firm in Japan. This truly is my new home. My whole life has changed—and I owe this all to the idea not going to school right away.

Sunrise from my new place in Tokyo

Sunrise from my new place in Tokyo

To anyone who is thinking about taking a gap year: do it. Even if you aren’t thinking about it: do it. Although I will always recommend Japan, it doesn’t matter where you go. There is just something about this place that sucks you in and won’t let you go. Ask any English teacher, I know they will agree.

Author of this article

Collin Garcia

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