When did we start thinking of Japan?
We started thinking about moving to Asia since the summer of 1997. In our own minds, we commited to two years in London. As Tara became unhappier & unhappier in Education, we started looking around for other job possibilites - especially in Asia. There were a couple of close calls when we possibly could have moved, but the opportunity only became concrete after we had given up all hope of moving to Asia.
Summer of 1997 - Teaching English in Japan?
We discussed leaving our jobs and teaching English in Japan for a year. We researched the JET Program and various private programs. We never actually applied for any teaching positions since we felt we'd want to relocated as expatriates, not starving English teachers.
August of 1997 - Almost Singapore
The timing was just slightly off since Tara accepted a job in London Friday morning & then Seth found out that there was a position for him in Singapore Friday afternoon. Tara also found out Monday that a Singapore group was looking for people. Yes, the timing was slightly off. However, Tara's job that she accepted did at least have a small chance of getting her to Tokyo.
December of 1997 - Japan ranked 1st in where we'd like to be relocated
We thought Tara's new job would be an ideal route to Tokyo, so we stuck it out and waited. In December of 1997, Tara told her managers that her office preferences were #1 Tokyo, #2 Singapore and #3 New York. We heard nothing.
March of 1998
Again in March, Tara told her managers that she really wanted to know where she'd be living after her work permit expired in December. We heard nothing.
April of 1998
We had given up hope of being relocated by the Bank and had instead planned a 6 month round-the-world tour and were planning to travel until the money ran out. But, as soon as we had settled on our round-the-world trip, Japan was offered to us. We chose to go to Japan instead of travel, however, we still dream of our possible "alternate life".
|Seth loves gadgets, so he is looking forward to all the cutting edge electronics! He's already investigated a laptop the size of a magazine, a new digital camera and an updated Pilot. Especially after London, where we feel we're technologically behind the States, we're going to go gadget mad in Japan. And, of course, Japan is the home of the video game!!! So, we'll have to buy a new home gaming system. Plus, we'll have to go to arcades often.|
|Hello Kitty is probably the most famous character in America, but Tara likes Mr. Frog better. Her absolute favorite is Doraemon! She's never seen him outside of Japan, so she's been sure to bring Doraemon books, stuffed animals and watches home with her. She wants to buy all of the Doraemon books written for small children who are learning Japanese!! Tara love's Doraemon so much, that she's created a whole Doraemon page just of him!|
Day by Day Moving Developments
Friday, March 27, 1998 Tara could not believe it when she was offered the choice of being moved to Japan as an International Assignee. She was even more shocked when she was told that various favors would be exchanged so that Seth would also be found a position! We had the weekend to discuss if we wanted to move, but were able to decided in less than an hour. This was a total shock since we had in our own minds, committed ourselves to our alternate life.
Tara kept bothering Seth in his Reuter's class with late breaking news about the possibility, so it was wonderful when we able to leave work and discuss the opportunity. We decided to walk home from Sloane Square and discuss everything. It didn't take us long, by the time we arrived home, we were ready to get on the plane.
At home, there was a message waiting from Tara's manager with even more news! They'd found her a position. We "celebrated" with Jeff, who was in town for a week. He had exciting news about possibly founding his own company with co-workers, so it was a very interesting dinner as we talked about all the possibilities for our futures.
We were very excited about moving to Japan, but nothing was for sure yet, so we kept the possibility of a 6 month world tour in our minds as our alternative future. Over the weekend, Seth went book shopping and bought plenty of books to read about living in Japan. We also dusted off our Japanese language books from 1992 and 1993 and started re-learning.
We did begin to tell our parents and close friends about the possibility of moving to Japan. But, we were still very nervous about it not happening, so we kept our round-the-world plane reservation also. Gary put it the best when he said: "So, should you choose the platinum and move to Japan or should you choose the diamond and travel the world?".
Tuesday, March 31, 1998 Tara confirmed to her managers that she and Seth wanted to move to Japan. Her managers said they'd get the ball rolling and would try to have some more news by Thursday, the 2nd. Thus, the long wait began.
Thursday, April 2, 1998 No news. We were still hoping for news, maybe tomorrow.
Friday, April 3, 1998 Still no news. But, we're mentally preparing to move at any time and discussing what items should come with, which we should get rid of and which we could send home to Chicago.
Monday, April 6, 1998 Still no news from Tara's side. But, Seth's manager checks with him and confirms that a move to Japan is something he wants. She discusses a possible project for him. He could help set up a centralized Technical Service Center for all help calls. They discuss a one year contract as a possible assignment length. Seth finds out later that day that the head of Tokyo customer services is leaving in a few months. He asks his manager if he would be qualified for the role and offers to stay in Japan for longer than one year. She greatly praises his ability to do the role, but says she's unsure if it would be best to have an American leading the team. It is left undecided.
Wednesday, April 8, 1998 A short term project has been found for Seth. He will survey Customer Services in Tokyo. Tara's manager from New York is in town and asks her to meet with him tomorrow at 3pm.
Thursday, April 9, 1998 Seth fins out that he will definitely have a project in Tokyo. Tara finds out that last Thursday, an application for her assignment in Tokyo was submitted to Human Resources. It is for an 18 month assignment and her role will be the same as it is in London. She finds out no further details except that all the people she works with somehow already know that she is being moved to Tokyo. That came as a bit of surprise since Tara had mentioned it to no one at work for fear that it wouldn't really happen.
Friday, April 10, 1998 We go shopping on Oxford Street. Guess what we bought? Yup, more books about Japan!!
Tuesday, April 14, 1998 Tara has asked work about Japanese lessons and her managers have approved lessons. She's very anxious to start and immediately calls a language school. Unfortunately, a tutor cannot evaluate her until Thursday! Oh well, it's only two days. But, it seems like forever. All the waiting & uncertainty is hard.
Wednesday, April 15, 1998 Seth getting a position a position in the Tokyo office is looking very promising. He's heard more from his managers than Tara has from hers.
Thursday, April 17, 1998 Tara has her Japanese evaluation meeting. Basically, she's forgotten all of the details she learned back in 1992 and 1993, BUT at least the Japanese words sound familiar.
Saturday, April 16, 1998 The initial excitement is wearing off a bit since Seth is worried that everything will be hard to do in Japan and just daily life will be stressful. We actually both think that this will be true. Especially until we have a basic grasp of the language. Hopefully the reward will be worth it.
Monday, April 20, 1998 Still no word from Tara's managers. And the Japanese language school hasn't even called her back. But, Seth is getting on well working in Tokyo.
Wednesday, April 22, 1998 Unfortunately, Japanese lessons will have to wait until next Tuesday since a convenient time cannot be arranged before then. In addition to the stress and uncertainty surrounding the move to Japan, Tara is working mad hours in order to get the final edits into a training series she's making for work. In some ways the very long hours have been nice. She's been distracted from actually worrying about moving to Japan.
Thursday, April 23, 1998 Tara gets a urgent call from one of her managers and her other manager quietly talks to Seth in Tokyo. Appartently, Tara's Human Resources has been holding off on approving Tara until Seth has a job. But, the really ironic thing is that Seth's Human Resources has been holding off on processing Seth's visa because Tara is still not approved. A vicious circle, which was quickly cleared up.
Friday, April 24, 1998 Finally, Tara gets the first "offical call" about her relocation. The Japanese government wants passport photos, college diplomas and passport copies. The visa process is finally underway!!
Saturday, April 25, 1998 Seth spends a very good last day in Tokyo. After 2 weeks, he is finally able to go to Akihabara to look at all the kool electronics. Tara isn't quite convinced that we need to leave all of our electronics at home, but Seth is so impressed with the new models in Japan that he's willing to buy all new stuff! Tara's just excited he's coming home.
Thursday, May 7, 1998 Haven't written in a long time, but Tokyo has always been at the front of our minds. Today Seth approached his managers again with the date of May 15th being his last day in London. No one was extremely opposed, so his last day will be May 15th. Hopefully Tara will be able to come with.
Friday, May 8, 1998
Today Tara approached her managers and found out that her assignment
was approved. After discussing dates & other details with her team-members, it was confirmed that she will go out to Tokyo with Seth!
Saturday, May 9 & Sunday, May 10, 1998 We now really have the feeling that we're leaving London soon, so we're doing things we've always wanted to do and doing things we have to do. For example, we need new clothes. The Tokyo office is more formal than the London office, so we went clothes shopping. Seth also bagged comics while Tara organized photos. That's the stuff we have to do. But, we also enjoyed ourselves Sunday because we went on a London open-top tour bus. The weather has finally turned nice, so we couldn't have picked a better day. It was beautiful & sunny. We enjoyed being a tourist for a few hours, but our bottoms couldn't take much more seeing as the bus seats were hard!
Monday, May 11, 1998 Tara called her Tokyo Human Resources contact and found out her housing bonus today. It is right in the middle of what we wanted. We wanted 700,000 - 900,000 and we get 800,000. We hope to be able to rent a two bedroom for that in a nice area close to work. It would be great to have some extras - like maybe a swimming pool in the building or a big yard or balcony. Who knows. We'll have two half-days of apartment hunting with the company's real estate agents. That will tell us more of what we can get for 800,000 Yen.
Thursday, May 14, 1998 Tara found out her contract numbers yesterday. After 24 hours of discussion & comparison with salaries she found on the internet, she decided that the company was doing right by her and in her own mind decided that it would be the right choice to go to Japan. Seth's HR is also saying that they will adjust him for his cost of living differential. So, full steam ahead it looks like. Tonight we also found a pub for our leaving drinks. It is a minute walk from Saint Paul's Cathedral and we had a fun night there tonight "trying out the available drinks!"
Now that the contract was presented, the only question was when would our final move be? There were still small things to work out - our work visas for one & our salaries for another, but it looks like it's going to happen. Wow!
May 18, 1998 Tara refused to sign her contract until she had seen some properties in the price range she was given. So, on May 18 we flew to Tokyo together to start working and house hunting. After 5 weeks of living in the Imperial Hotel, working mad hours, house hunting and adjusting to our new country; we decided on the date.
June 25, 1998 We flew out of London together, headed one-way to Japan.