I went to Alaska and worked in the oilfield for seven years while visiting Japan 20 times. I explored Tokyo, ate the best food, drank a lot, had a couple girlfriends.
Leaving Japan was depressing. I needed to experience living there but that required a four-year college degree to get a working visa.
I was then 26 and didn’t want to go back to school for four years for a piece of paper. So I searched and searched for possibilities, until I discovered you could test out of a degree, and that’s what I dedicated myself to, finishing in just under a year.
I quit Alaska and arrived in Japan on a student visa. I studied Japanese everyday, drank and chased girls on the street with friends. It was the best six months of my life. Then I had to go and get a job teaching English because I didn’t want to burn through my oilfield savings.
It was all right at first, but got old fast. I became adept at yawning with my mouth closed, but I hung in there for 18 months, right until the company renewed my visa. Then I quit.
I hopped a plane to Japan’s north island, Hokkaido, and skateboarded south to Okinawa. I blogged about it, rewrote it and turned the story into a book.