I can’t believe it’s already been six months since I got on that plane with a one way ticket bound for Japan. Six months since I began learning how to walk on the wrong side of the sidewalk, of changing my shoes before starting work each morning, and of exploring my tiny town of Toyohashi.
Some days, it still feels like I just got here. Others, it feel like a lifetime ago.
So far being here I’ve been to three new countries and countless new places in Japan. I’ve learned how to make a few very Japanese recipes (not well, but I know what I’m supposed to do in theory at least!) and how to make American recipes with Japanese ingredients.
In the classroom I’ve been sneezed on dozens of times, bitten once, have my hair pulled weekly (accidentally and on purpose), gotten licked on my hands and legs, get my feet stepped on daily, and have wiped away a handful of tears. I’ve picked up chewed pieces of food off the floor and off shirts, I’ve helped my kids get changed, and I’ve stood and waited outside the bathroom just to make sure they’ve washed their hands. I’m learning how to discipline, (I’m not very good at it), I’ve caused a few tears and temper tantrums, and I’ve taken away toys because sharing isn’t a 3 year olds strong point.
But I also get daily hugs, constant questions about why I don’t eat my oatmeal with chopsticks, and little notes with drawings of me and my name written in big blocky letters by tiny hands still learning how to hold a pencil.
No one warned me how frustrating, challenging, exhilarating, and empowering moving across the world would be. I mean, I figured it wouldn’t be a cake walk, but no one said that the homesickness would hit at the strangest times, or that some nights would be spent crying into my pillow, or that the first few months of this new job would cause such panic and doubt.
But then again, no one said I’d have to do this alone. I’ve learned just how many people back home are rooting for me and cheering me on; how many people want to come visit because now they have a real reason to come to Asia; and how many people think this is an insanely awesome thing to do when you’re young and able. I forget to look at this experience from the other side, and yeah, from that side it does look pretty ambitious.
Because of this new job, I now have friends and co-workers from the UK, South Africa, and the Philippines and I am thankful for them each day. They are my co-conspirators, my therapists (sorry guys and thanks), my motivation, my sanity, and my support.
On the home front side, I call home each weekend, have phone dates monthly, and sometimes weekly with family and friends I love, and I’ve even had a a few visitors from home come to Japan. I’m learning how to navigate the trains without using Google Maps, learning how to be at peace with myself, and learning how to grow up (spoiler alert, it’s freaking hard).
Six months here and I still cannot speak, read, or write the language. I’m working on it, but it’s just not my main priority right now. Mainly I’m trying to stay sane for the next few months. I still have so many more places to visit and things to eat here, but I’m just trying to take it all one day at a time. I’m trying not to rush things, but at the same time I’m anxious for whats coming next. Living in the present is hard, but I’m learning. And I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has reached out, texted, emailed, called, and commented these past six months. You are all my champions and I feel the love. I just wanted to say thanks for believing in me and supporting me along this crazy quarter life crisis adventure. Six months down six to go!