Marie Teather came to Japan to teach English and later become the editor of The Tokyo Weekender, expatriate magazine. Another example of how teaching English abroad can lead to new opportunities. After seven years in Japan, she returned to England and is now touring around Europe in a Land Rover. She was kind enough to answer some questions about her experiences
Please tell us about your current life now. Where do you live?
I left Japan at the end of January after living there for seven years. I have been traveling ever since – basically I’m taking a very long time to go home. Which makes me wonder, do I even want to go home!?
How do you earn an income?
Right now I am not earning – apart from the odd bit of freelance writing. In Tokyo I worked really hard, as everyone does in Japan, and so was able to save enough money to leave with savings and to take an extended break. Japan was a great place to save money.
You worked in Japan for seven years. How did you start that career path?
I was at university before moving to Japan on the JET (government sponsored Japan Exchange and Teaching) program. I taught English for a couple of years at a private girls school in Tokyo, studied Japanese and made the progression into the career I had always wanted to; journalism. Being in Tokyo and the expat community is a great place to create opportunities for yourself, if you try hard enough.
What do you like and don’t like about your life now?
I’m certainly not bored doing all this traveling! I am learning a lot about the world outside of the Japan-centric way of thinking and it’s opened my mind a lot again. The last time I felt this interested and excited about the world was when I moved to Japan. I do however worry that moving back to England is not going to be as exciting as traveling or living overseas and I’m already contemplating my next move – perhaps Singapore…?
Do you have any regrets about your life?
No. I always put 100% into whatever I am doing or working on and am constantly looking for ways to make changes to my lifestyle for the better. It’s important for me to keep learning.
How much savings would an average person need to be able to move abroad like you did?
You’d need enough to survive the first three months without a job comfortably. That means to pay rent, network, explore a little, and make friends. Make sure you are looking for work the moment you arrive.
(John’s note: In Japan that would mean as little as US$4000 but US$6000 would be a safer amount for three months.)
Why weren’t you happy before? What was missing from your life?
Nothing was missing from my life before moving abroad but by not moving I would have missed a whole lot more.
What sacrifices and risks did you make in order to get to where you are today?
I wouldn’t do something without planning carefully or without really wanting to do it in the first place. I have however chosen a career that is not going to pay as much as others so I guess I may have sacrificed getting rich!
Also, living abroad I did miss friends and family and after seven years I realize that some of these relationships are not as close as they once were. Still, others are stronger and I’ve met many amazing people along the way too. I guess moving apart from some friends would happen naturally anyway.
What advice would you offer for others pursuing similar career objectives?
If you really want to enjoy the world and the expat lifestyle, don’t move abroad just for your career. Be interested in the place you are moving to, make an effort, and step outside if your comfort zones. You’ll have a much better experience.
What type of work do you think you are going to do next?
I’m planning to work in journalism for a publication or online site based from London.
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