Ramblin’ to Japan on the JET Programme

Wake up! It’s time for a new adventure, readers; Bobby’s going to Japan! Woop woop! Hurrah! Huzzah! Yatta! (That’s Japanese for “I did it!” – check me out). It’s been a long while since I’ve written on these humble pages and I’d love to say that a lot has happened since then, but it hasn’t really, and that’s part of the reason I’m writing this in the first place. Since 2007 and my return from my legendary journey around the earth I have drank a lot of beer, eaten in a lot of restaurants and visited Germany, Amsterdam and The North (it’s grim up there). I have a 9-to-5 job in IT, I buy my groceries in Sainsbury’s, I read the paper, sip Cappuccinos in cafes and eat pizza in posh pubs. Basically I’m a good little citizen doing exactly what every other good little citizen does.

My best mate William and I can never go out for a drink without a deep chat about our careers and where they’re going. We both met at university where we were doing the same degree in Computer Network Management; a fascinating concoction of the study of sine waves, frequency modulation, tort law, artificial intelligence and maths, amongst other things. Suffice to say they failed to teach us the basics of IT support (where most people in this industry start on the career ladder); that is to say, “switch it off, and switch it back on again”. This is a cliché for a reason my friends; because it works. Take heed and you will be able to hang out with your IT department like you are one of them. After they have cracked a few jokes at your expense and shown themselves as technically superior they will happily converse with you about cars, graphics cards, politics and Blackberries because you are one of the fabled few who decided to take The IT Crowd seriously, rather than dismiss it as a crap comedy.

One of the many discussions William and I, and I’m sure many other people doing their 9-to-5s like good little citizens have had is the one about your Passion. You know; the belief that everyone has a purpose in life; that your purpose should be as much a part of you and your everyday life as the skin you’re in. I’m not talking about divine right, fate or anything remotely religious here; rather that there are probably a number of different careers that are perfect for you that you wouldn’t mind working on day and night, or that – shock, horror – you might actually look forward to doing every day of your life.

My career in IT stems back to my days as a socially repressed teenager living in a small town in England. I found people confusing and uninteresting, especially when compared to the logical, simple world that computers live in. If your computer is slow, stick more RAM in it, if the hard disk thrashes all the time even after you’ve upgraded the RAM, get a new hard disk (bet you never thought you were going to get inside information reading this blog did you, you lucky things?). People are infinitely more complex and, for an 18 year-old boy who goes to college, gets home and then plays Counter Strike until 4am before getting up for college again, they’re terrifying.

Fortunately I went to university, which I liken to a great big washing machine for humans. You jump into it a spotty, clueless teenager who thinks he knows everything and drinks himself blind at karaoke nights in a sweaty pub every Saturday night (no? just me?). It then chucks you around a bit, washes you, pulls off your Argos neck-chain, and spits you out with a better haircut, better clothes and a piece of paper that says that you’re marginally more intelligent; except you don’t feel that way because your world has just expanded by a massive amount and your knowledge of it only marginally. You now need to learn as much as you possibly can about everything so you go travelling, which makes you wiser about the world but again, expands your world by an even more massive amount and you come back feeling like you’ve actually got thicker. I’m not sure if anyone has ever documented this phenomenon before but if not, I dub it The Bobby Effect. You heard it here first.

Err… Where was I? Oh yes! Passion. I needed to find mine… The main problem with my job is that I’m making no impact on anyone; I’m not changing anything or doing anything particularly worthwhile. You could make the argument that I’m a cog in the proverbial machine; that my job is essential to keep my sports company and its computers running smoothly, and that helps to get more people involved in sport, possibly changing lives in the process. However this is nonsense because:

  1. I believe it’s a justification that people use when they’re unhappy in their work and unwilling/don’t know how to do anything about it and…
  2. They don’t feel they need to replace me.

…and so I’m going to Japan to teach English, driven by a desire for a massive personal challenge and a desire to make a difference. If I can teach a Japanese student to speak a language that will empower him/her to travel and communicate through a vast array of other countries and cultures, then I’ve directly made a difference in someone else’s life rather than vicariously through resetting their Windows password.

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