by Japan specialist Tesia.
I started taking Japanese classes when I was in 7th grade, but my interest in the country didn’t really peak until later on. My first trip to Japan was in early high school when I was placed with a host family on the small island of Miyako. The island was home to the bluest water I’ve ever seen, but they didn’t speak the same dialect of Japanese I’d been learning, so it was a bit confusing for me. While not what I was expecting, this first trip definitely made me more intrigued by the country.
A few years later, I returned to Japan and visited Tokyo and Kyoto. There, I stayed with host families and had a more typical Japanese experience - I saw some more of the major cities and highlights. This visit inspired me to continue my education in Japanese in college and ultimately double major in Communications and East Asian studies.
In college, I returned to the country for a third time and lived in Osaka. While I had always been interested in Japan, it was during these three months of study abroad that I really fell in love with the country. I had known about Japan and the culture, but this was the first time I really saw the youth and pop culture of Japan juxtaposed to the historic and rich culture of Kyoto.
I loved waiting for the bus and seeing break dancers but then walking down the streets and seeing women in kimono. It was just so odd and intriguing. I knew I had to move back to live in this country!
After college, I moved to the northernmost (and snowiest) city in Japan; Aomori. There, I taught English as a part of the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program, or JET.
When I moved to Japan to teach English, I only thought it was going to be one, maybe two years. After becoming immersed in the warm and welcoming culture, I turned the one year contract into five full years.
During my time in Aomorie, I embraced Japanese culture. I joined a curling team, took bread baking classes, and danced hip hop with the locals (to name only a few.) I could not have asked for a better life — I lived a five minute walk from the beach and twenty minute drive from the mountains. Japan is so culturally divserve, but it’s also very geographically diverse, and I loved how there was always something new to find and explore.
While living in Japan, I was also able to do a great deal of traveling throughout the country and Southeast Asia. I realized eventually that I didn’t want to be a teacher forever, so I decided to get my Masters Degree through a distance program at George Washington University. This allowed me to continue living in Japan while furthering my education. However, after five years, it was time for me to move back home to the states.
When I returned, I was living in Maryland and working in the marketing and sponsorship department for the host organization for the International Canoe Federation’s Canoe Slalom World Championships. It was around this time that I saw an ad for jobs at Audley Travel. I applied, was flown out to Boston for the interview, and eventually offered the job.
The decision to move to Boston was easy because it meant working for what I knew would be a great company.
When I returned to the states, I was looking for a workplace where I felt relaxed and at home; somewhere with a social environment that was just as positive as the professional environment. Audley quickly became that place for me. I really can’t imagine a better job fit for me - it combines all aspects of my passions, and the culture of the company is incredibly positive and welcoming.
I love planning trips for clients to Japan, because it is often a chance for me to continue to view Japan with fresh eyes.
I love hearing stories from my clients of unique experiences they had and how much they appreciated my advice and guidance. Creating special trips for people is always fun, whether it’s their first time or their tenth. One client that sticks out in my mind was a man who is first generation American and has family and friends in Japan. I was able to plan a hiking trip for him through the Alps before visiting his family. I was happy he used Audley for this part of the trip as he had no idea where to begin and he loved his hiking trip. I have also had fun stories of clients who have been interviewed for Japanese TV shows. You never know what experiences you may have in Japan and I love hearing all about them!
Inspired by Tesia’s story?
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