I’m Jerrmarco Rhodes from Atlanta, Ga, USA. I live in the Aichi prefecture, Hekinan-shi(City) in Japan. I’m an expert on learning languages. I speak English Spanish, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, expert on expat living and a world traveler.
I’ve always wanted to live in a foreign country ever since I started learning foreign languages. While I was in college, I started learning Japanese and wanted to improve my language skills, so instead of studying abroad programs which limits the length of stay in most cases for up to one year, I chose to wait until after graduation and go to Japan for at least 3 years or more. After job searching and finally finding a great company, I went to Japan in August 2008 and I’m still here.What challenges did you face during the move?
Some of my challenges during the move were leaving behind my job for a major fortune 500 company after working there for almost 2 years. Selling and getting rid of my possessions was something that I had to do in order to make the move. Deciding which clothes to take was another challenge.
How did you find somewhere to live?
As a result of getting hired by a great company, they took care of the apartment process. Before I flew to Japan, the company already gave me my apartment information and I just had to meet the Realtor when I got there.
Are there many other expats in your area?
I live in a very rural area with a population of about 70,000 people. There are many Brazilian expats, Chinese expats, and expats from other countries. There were very few American expats in my area.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
My relationship with the locals is very good. The people there are friendly but it didn’t start out that way. The Japanese people were very shy and reserved when I first met them but over time, we developed great friendships. I just had to be patient.
What do you like about life where you are?
I like the pace. I ride a bike every day so I’m always in shape. I eat fresh food everyday, I haven’t had canned food in years. The people do listen to what I say when we’re in a conversation. Its very easy to have a group discussion because everyone gets their turn to speak. There are always new things to learn everyday. Working out at the gym is extremely cheap here, its only the $1.20/day. There are a lot of holidays in Japan. Also , there are many festivals going on in my area and in nearby cities. My Japanese skills increased. I also picked up Brazilian Portuguese.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
Being away from my family and friends.I’m missing a lot of foods from America. Not being able to keep up with everything in America, but wait, that’s a good thing!
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Research the country thoroughly. Familiarize yourself with the names of the prefectures in Japan. Decide how long you wish to stay in Japan before you get to Japan but be flexible because you may want to stay more or less depending on your experience. Find people who have lived or are living in Japan like me and ask them about their experiences. Check for jobs in japan on htp://www.gaijinpot.com, and also http://www.jobsinjapan.com, Research the English teaching companies because some of them are good and some of them are bad. If you have IT experience that also another good way to get into Japan because there is a shortage of IT professionals.
Don’t worry about the stereotype of the English teacher. Usually the stereotype is that, the American who is living in japan is an English teacher. Its a good generalization but its not the same for every American that comes here. In reality, if you’re trying to go to Japan, then it doesn’t matter how you get here , just as long as you get here is what really matters. For Americans seeking to live in Japan, the easiest way for us is to teach English here.
Be prepared to be challenged daily and to be away from the life you had in America.
Learn Japanese is you don’t know it already. The people here will not always speak English and they will not always try to translate this /that for you.
Save up enough money to last you for the first couple of months in Japan. Jobs in japan don’t give out the first check until one month after you’ve been here.
Don’t over pack. Simple is best here in Japan so its better to bring just a few things and not a whole bunch of clothes.
Find out if the company that hires you will help you get setup in Japan by assisting you with the registration process or will they expect you to do it yourself.
Check www.worldrelations.net for info on all things related to language and travel.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to live in other countries. Deciding which country and for how long is challenging right now. I still plan to travel the world and see more countries and to meet people from all over the world.