March 5, 2013
Information session on teaching English abroad (conveniently located at my alma mater).
September 2, 2013
I officially complete my 100 hour course on teaching English as a second language, and receive my TESOL/TESL/TEFL certification.
September 18, 2013
I attain a federal criminal record check (with photo and fingerprints) in order to apply to a range of companies.
September 17, 2013 - March 20, 2014 (185 Days*)
Struggling job hunt rages war on my time, and emotions.
March 21, 2014
I'm contacted by numerous Japanese companies, including one long phone call discussing my goals and intentions. I'm asked to consider the position thoroughly, then contact them after I've made a decision.
March 24, 2014
I officially register with the company's website and await a reply. I immediately receive a call back and continue with an interview over the phone before proceeding further. I'm informed that I will need to send a scanned passport photo/signature page along with my university degree, a professional looking photo, and a minimum of 3 reference letters (2 work and 1 character). On top of that, I must complete a grammar quiz, and fill out a questionnaire consisting of various work related questions and an essay.
April 10, 2014
I discuss my upcoming decisions about deciding between jobs in a blog post.
April 24, 2014
I receive my final reference letter from my university Japanese professor. I immediately send it to DJ and finish that part of the hiring process.
July 10, 2014
My father drives me to Calgary, Alberta to visit the Japanese Consulate. They approve my work visa and instruct me on the immigration process after entering Japan.
July 16, 2014
As part of the final, official step for moving to Japan - I visit my doctor for a note declaring a clean bill of health.
July 21, 2014
I receive my work visa in the mail.
August 14 - 16, 2014
My plane leaves for Japan. There are stops in Vancouver, Canada and Taipei, Taiwan before landing in Nagoya, Japan.
August 18, 2014
A two week orientation begins, instructing new employees on curriculum and method.
This time of year is always the most difficult for me - the end of April and the beginning of May. While at this point in time I do not wish to disclose the precise reason, I will allude to it. When I was but an adolescent, I experienced the worst trauma of my entire life. That trauma has followed me every step. I suffered from PTSD for a long time after - although at the time I didn't know what was happening. The flashbacks wouldn't end.
Flashbacks, in accordance with PTSD, can make you feel like you've returned to the scene of the trauma. They can make you believe that no time has passed and you're stuck in time repeating history. It's frightening, painful, and inescapable. Your mind is triggered backwards and it has a hard time remembering how to leave.
While many years have passed, and the flashbacks have slowed - they like to reappear annually around this time of year. I will be innocently smelling the night air, or perhaps laying in bed, when all of a sudden I'm back at the scene of the crime. Emotions flood my consciousness and I'm reminded of all the horrible things that happened, like it's happening in the present. I try to move past it, but I've learned a long time ago that flashbacks are not easily escaped, or for that matter, avoided.
Last night was no different. I spent a good piece of my present time remembering my excruciating history. It brings up so many dark memories, and darker feelings. Self-loathing, depression, anxiety, panic, fear...I felt myself falling backwards into torturous nothingness. Luckily for me, this instance had a rare exception to previous instances - I had a very loving and supportive partner. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have been able to express myself openly, or as easily. I would have flailed in my own personal hell for a lot longer. Instead, they listened and held me, and reminded me that I was safe.
I think about all the other people suffering with flashbacks, and empathy pours out of me. I wish no one had to re-live their traumas. The mind is a delicate machine, that can be unfortunately programmed with undesirable routines. The trick is learning how to cope. While I understand the pressure to make it "all go away" (all too well), it's not the best solution. You inevitably end up hurting someone else - and perhaps even cause them PTSD, making it a vicious cycle. It's best to learn how to cope. The most important thing here is that time heals. While it heals rather slowly, it does heal. Perhaps there will be a scar, but it means you're a survivor - not a victim.
While I was thinking about coping techniques, I did a Google search for the hell of it. I turned out this article: Coping with Flashbacks by Matthew Tull. There's some good information there - I think next time I experience a flashback I'll try either biting into some peppermint gum, or cranking my music. It can't hurt.
Halloween wasn't always a time for trick-or-treating in costumes (or in snowsuits if you live in Canada). Throughout the years Halloween has transformed dramatically, so much so that it's practically unrecognizable from its roots.
It all began with a Gaelic event called, "Samhain" which marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. There would be rituals and bonfires along with the slaughtering of livestock for the cold months ahead. There was a belief that Samhain was a time when otherwordly beings could enter from beyond to take part in the feasts. Of course they didn't just see the possibility for dead kin to visit, they realized there might be negative spirits as well. So people took precautions to protect themselves, perhaps even changing their appearance.
As with most holidays adopted by Christianity they stamped out their Pagan roots. From Samhain came All Saints' Day. Depending on the specific sect of Christianity they may honour Saints or Christians, alive and dead. This casts a striking similarity to Gaelic Samhain which invites the dead in order to honour them with feasts. In Mexico it coincides with the first day of the Day of the Dead celebration, Day of the Innocents which honours deceased children.
In North America Halloween wasn't celebrated until Irish and Scottish immigrants brought their customs and beliefs in the 19th century. The act of trick-or-treating is still rather new with barely any record or mention of it until the 1930s. Halloween certainly has come a long way, from celebrating the harvest, to honouring the dead, to going door to door for candy. It's definitely one of my favourite holidays. What's not to love about a little frivolity and fun?
On this day in 1938, Orson Welles performed an adaptation of H. G. Wells' novel War of the Worlds (1898). It begins with a series of factual sounding news bulletins depicting an alien invasion from Mars. The Halloween broadcast frightened many listeners, causing some people to panic and flee their homes. Yet it's like the old saying goes, "There's no such thing as bad publicity," since Orson Welles quickly became well known. The prank jump started his career into the spotlight and to this day the stunt is remembered and referenced.
In memory of this historic moment, I present to you the radio broadcast from 1938. Enjoy!
I'm finally back! After a week vacation and a few days in between, I'm finally back to blogging. It's been an adventure! My partner and I took a trip to Kelowna, British Columbia (BC)! We drove the whole way there. It's about 900 km or in case you don't use the (far superior) metric system, it's about 560 miles. It's quite a long way. Google Maps thought it would take about 11 hours but let's just say we made it in record time. The first photo you see on the right is a picture of the major highway between Edmonton and Calgary. It's named the QE2 (Queen Elizabeth II Highway), it used to be just the #2 before the Queen visited. . .
One of the most beautiful features about Calgary is its proximity to the mountains. You can look off into the distance and see them standing majestically. It's quite the sight. Although they may look far away, they're actually very close. It doesn't take very long before you're driving in between them and enjoying their spectacular heights up close.
As soon as we entered the mountains we encountered dense fog and thick rain. This is fairly common since the weather in the mountains is rather fickle and no matter what time of year you're bound to see some rain but this was the most rain I've ever seen. It pretty much rained the entire time. It was fairly dangerous under those conditions since you tend to encounter thick herds of traffic on narrow twisty roads. Yet it was exciting and unexpected, it's been awhile since we've taken a road trip.
Throughout the mountains there are warning signs of falling rocks. A cost effective method of preventing the rocks from hitting the road seems to be these hanging chains. They're fairly common. Every time I've been in the mountains I try to think of what they might be named. There must be a name for them, there's a name for everything. While I was calling them hanging chains my partner came up with the name, "geological lateral restraining harnesses". I laughed so hard! That's what I get for asking a civil engineer.
A memorable aspect of the journey are the tunnels. Located in Rogers Pass between Golden and Revelstoke, there are 6 tunnels. Ever since I was a child traveling through BC I would look forward to going through the tunnels. I'm not sure why but I've always enjoyed them. This still hasn't changed now that I'm older. I guess I always imagined them as portals to an unknown and mysterious land. Thank you, imagination.
As we finally neared the resort the weather transformed into beautiful clear skies with the fading light of dusk. I love taking photos. I find that true beauty can always be found in the wonders of nature.
The road leading to the resort was definitely one of the more frightening roads I've been on. It's all sharp corners and no passing lanes right next to a sheer drop.
At last, our room. Well, this is the part of the room where we spent the most time so it seemed like the most important photo to share. Whether it was watching a movie together or eating our daily breakfast of eggs, bacon and english muffins with salmon cream cheese. Mmm!
For the rest of the week I will be blogging about my stay in BC. Readers I say to you, come for the photos and stay for the story.
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