I watch my first anime, and the originality instantly amazes me. This isn't your average Saturday morning cartoon - this is something the West couldn't or wouldn't come up with in their wildest dreams. The characters, the plots, the settings - a little weird sometimes - but overall Japan's creativity is so boundless that three years later I'm still fascinated.
I start watching Japanese musical theatre. This, on the flip-side, is where everything becomes familiar. With my background at a performing arts high school, it's endearing to see how some things are the same on every continent.
I start listening to Japanese popular music. Despite not being able to understand a word - except for (barely) the ones in "English" - I enjoy a great deal of songs, and some artists become my very favorites.
I graduate with a Bachelor's in Comparative Literature. In the long-run I want to be a librarian or author, but at this time of my life I'd like to do something more adventurous. I look at teaching English positions in Russia - because I spent two years learning the language - and Japan - my current infatuation.
I apply to Nova, one of four major English schools in Japan. I am offered the job, and am scheduled to go over in January.
I start to hear rumors that Nova isn't doing well financially and haven't paid their Japanese staff in months. I keep my eyes open for other opportunities.
I apply to a smaller company that places teachers directly into schools (unlike Nova which has its own buildings).
Nova goes bankrupt. Thousands in the country are left destitute.
The other company offers me a job. I am scheduled to go over in March 2008.
I buy my plane ticket. I'll leave Seattle on March 14th, 2:30 pm, and land in Tokyo March 15th, 5:00 pm. The flight is ten hours, but the time zone difference is 16 hours ahead. This will be my first flight across the Pacific Ocean.