Expat life can sometimes feel like an exercise in repetition, especially when you get the same questions every time you go to a gathering.
“Where are you from?”
“Are you an English teacher?”
“How long have you been in Japan?”
When I answer “two years” I get that look immediately.
“We find that most of our teachers stay about two years,” I remember the manager at my old company telling me. “After that they reach a turning point… Some have had their fill of Japan life and leave. The ones who stay get serious.”
I wonder which I am. Two years. Tokyo is definitely no longer a new place, but it doesn’t quite feel like a permanent home either. I feel as if different pathways stretch out before me and they hold a certain gravity. I feel like the choices I make now will shape my life significantly for years to come. For the first time since arriving, things are indeed getting serious.
Cultural adaption: what does the two-year mark mean?
The two-year mark is the conventional wisdom that many expats reach a turning point after two years in Japan. It’s a time when people re-evaluate their priorities and either leave Japan or begin to experience expat life differently.
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