12 July 2013 § Leave a comment
Someone I was chatting with last month was talking about her friend who had also decided to work and live abroad, describing her as having chosen to do “the selfish thing”. She didn’t say this with too much of a negative tone, but continued to explain how much this friend meant to other people, etc.
Sometimes, it feels like the selfish thing to stay home. To stay comfortable. To stay with the people I love and obviously want to be close to. To stay in the place that I know best, where I’m not confronted with the stress of language barriers, cultural barriers, and lack of understanding a different system.
Sometimes, I wonder if it’s other people that are being selfish who are saying, “Stay!”
I loved living in Japan. I loved moving there. I loved getting to know Osaka and the amazing people who lived there too. I can’t wait to go to England and actually teach in a high school there. But it’s not easy. Sometimes, it’s terrifying. It hurts. Leaving home without knowing exactly when you’ll be back can be heart-wrenching. After being gone for awhile, that pain goes on a back burner or gradually decreases, as you put down roots wherever you are, meet people, get to know new streets and new neighborhoods and new rhythms. And then when you leave that place, it happens all over again. And again.
I get it though. I can see why it would seem selfish. Traveling to exciting new places, going off on my own (though I won’t be alone in England!), pursuing adventure! Gathering no moss!
But, perhaps whether I stay or go, it would be selfish. And either way, there would be something to lament. Leaving people behind. Staying in one place. Being an outsider (good or bad, though, depending on the day). Not following my heart (cheesy, but true).
I wish I had a dokodemo door.
27 June 2011 § 2 Comments
I can’t believe it’s been nearly five months. I know that every time another month passes, I say the exact same thing, but I really cannot believe it. I was talking with my parents the other day and I was recollecting with them how homesick I used to get even when I would go to a sleepover at my friend’s house down the street. I remember one summer night, all the kids in the neighborhood were having a camp out in my friend Meaghan’s backyard. I went for a couple hours, but shortly after it was dark out, I decided to go back home (about 100 meters down the road) because I was so homesick. And now I’ve been in Japan for five months.
I bought some shoes the other day. Sometimes when I’m in situations like that, I try to think of whatever minimal vocabulary I know just to have any kind of conversation with staff. This is sort of how it went:
When I walk in the store, various staff say something that pretty much means “How can I help you?”, but I can never remember what it is to say it myself.
I wandered around, looking at some shoes.
Woman comes up to me and asks something (my interpretation: “Would you like to try anything on?”).
Me: “Hai. Umm.. kore?” (Yes, umm… these?). She says something in response, maybe asking my size?
Me: “Ah… wakaranai.. Umm… ni ju yon, ni ju go?” (Ah… I don’t know.. Umm… twenty four, twenty five?)
She disappears to the back room, then comes out with a couple boxes.
I try on the twenty five and they are just a bit big.
Me: “Chotto… okii…? E to… Ni ju yon.. and a half? Umm… Ni ju yon, ni ju go…” (A bit… big…? Umm… twenty four.. and a half? Umm.. twenty four, twenty five….) <I make a gesture, suggesting “in between”>
She comes back with twenty four and a half. I try them on.
Me: “Ah, hai! Ii desu.. OK!” (Ah, yes! This is good.. OK!)
There was more. I also used the words “muzukashii” (difficult), “shiroi” (white), “aoi” (blue), “kawaii” (cute). At some point, I wanted to check out another shoe store before definitely buying the shoes that I bought, and attempting to say that I’d be returning, I suggested that I’m going home (“kaerimasu”). She responded “Mata!” (see you), and probably thought I was terribly rude or just really confused.
Anyway, the shoes are cute.
I have a tennis racket! I can’t wait to play! I can’t remember the last time I played. Maybe over a year ago. I also picked up a little fan, which is now clamped to my curtain rod. It helps. I got so desperate to be a bit more cool at night when I sleep that I slept on the floor a couple nights. Sleeping on the bed, the mattress and sheets just absorb my warmth and give it right back to me. The floor was okay for a couple nights, but you know, it wasn’t really all the comfortable… I haven’t felt particularly well rested in days and days. I can’t sleep. I think I’m beginning to get used to it, though.
Canada Day is coming up. I have a poutine date planned in celebration.
5 March 2011 § 1 Comment
Bought some daifukumochi tonight. I gave some to a friend who was with me and he was grossed out. If you haven’t had it, you can probably buy it somewhere in your area. But there’s a good chance you won’t like it, I think. It’s got a strange texture, sort of spongy and gummy. It’s nice and sweet, though.
I didn’t like it the first time I tried it, which was, I think, sometime in late 2009, after sort of being pressured into it at a family get together. It was awful. Whenever there is any available at our get togethers, it is usually just the aunts and uncles eating it. My cousins, brother, and myself are not so much into it.
But then a couple weeks ago, as I wandered around a grocery store alone feeling a tad homesick, I saw some daifuku and it reminded me of home and of my dad. So I bought one and I enjoyed it. Most people who come here to teach might go to an international food store to find food that reminds them of home. Not necessary.