Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sleepless in Osaka

Tonight, while riding my bike back home from a friend's house get together, I took a minute to stop and think (well I did not actually stop- I got lost but found my way back). I thought about how I would ever look back on my time spent living in Japan, when I decide to leave (I cannot even imagine when, even though it has to happen sooner or later). I concluded that, my time in Japan is...

... The most freedom I have had or will ever have in my life.
No one really knows where I am at any given time of the day or neither do I have to tell anyone, I can hop on a train to a different city or on my bike just whenever I feel like it, or eat cupcakes in my futon wearing underwear without anyone ever finding out about my weird habits. I can go wherever I want, whenever I want, and stay up at odd hours of the night.

... The loneliest time I have ever had.
Before I came to Japan, my friends warned me it would get lonely and isolated. And it's worse than I could ever had imagined. Living alone in a rural area or in a big city is one thing, but doing this while living in a country where you cannot fully understand or read the language is another thing. Even if I keep my social calendar quite full, there are certain moments that just make me feel so isolated regardless. When I get sick or coming home late at night, it is a bit scary. I hope to never feel this lonely again in my life ever, it can get pretty exhausting.

... The time when I met the most amazing people.
The friends I met along the way in Japan (or in Korea, for that matter), turned out to be the most unexpected, but also most beautiful friendships I have ever had. Walking in the staff room on my first day of work, or running into fellow foreigners at the train station, or casually exchanging emails through this blog- little did I know that those people would become my dearest friends, my family, my support system, and I'd create lifelong friendships with them. Being abroad at the same time brings people so much closer.

...The healthiest time of my life.
I am physically healthy and active, I run quite a bit, I ride my bike everywhere, I eat healthy, balanced meals, and live on water and green tea. It's also the thinnest I have ever been (in a healthy way), and I don't feel like I have to try hard to maintain my weight.

... But also the unhealthiest time of my life.
For other reasons. Being so isolated and lonely tends to drive me completely out of my mind in difficult times, and the fact that I look different and do not belong sometimes give me a distorted view of myself and my self-esteem. Tears and meltdowns are also a familiar aspect of living abroad, and not having my family or longtime friends around is sometimes unsettling.

...The most independent time of my life.
Living on my own. Cooking for myself. Doing everything on my own, such as securing an apartment, buying furniture, moving across the world, changing jobs, making appointments... all in a language I can barely speak. It's so challenging, but it's the best part of the adventure. I also love being on my own abroad, even if it gets lonely, as opposed to sharing this adventure with a significant other. This way I feel like I can fully experience my time in Japan, meet tons of new people, and participate in so many events, which I would maybe miss out on otherwise.

... The most unstable time of my life.
Which can be a good and a bad thing. Sometimes I wish I was more settled, especially in one place, but I do like the restlessness, and being able to go wherever I want next and be completely, utterly selfish- when will I ever be this way again in my life? Lately I'm faced with so many decisions which is scary, but I like being able to make my own decisions and having options, whether they are terrifying or not.

... The most beautiful time of my life.
In Japan I have seen extremely wonderful sights that I'll remember forever, and experienced cultural things that can only happen once in a lifetime. It's the most exciting, most beautiful time of my life and I am fully aware of that, and this makes it impossible to leave.

I appreciate every moment here, and sometimes a 2:00 am bike ride is the best way to remind myself how happy I am here.


Brandon said...

Nice post! Glad I found this blog!

check out mine? I'm a photographer!

If you want, follow it and I'll do the same.

blukats said...

I totally relate to this.

While not having been in Japan as long as you, it seems each time I go there is something to challenge me. Being able to handle each leaves me with a feeling of accomplishment unlike most I've ever had.

Plus there are so many rewards to being there. Enjoy each moment!

Isabel said...

What a beautiful post. What a beautiful lady.xo

Dorien said...

Beautiful post. I can't wait for your follow post! :)
And I can't wait to be in Japan again, too... Studied there one year, and it really was the best year of my life. Enjoy the rest of your stay!

Check my blog out for nice sightseeing spots & songs!

Magdalena Viktoria said...

this was very nice to read. beautiful post.

Taylor said...

I enjoyed reading this post! It's crazy how many feelings you can have and how extreme in opposite directions they can be! The best and worst! But the best outweighs the worst right?

Also, I saw this video that in Osaka they have this little game that if you play shoot someone with your finger no matter who they are they will react to it and play along. Have you seen this? Because that is pretty awesome if it in fact is true! =)

Vivian said...

Hi Taylor-

Glad you enjoyed this post! I'm re-reading it again and it does make me sound a bit bipolar... haha.

Oh, as for that shooting game, YES! It's so funny, and thanks for bringing it up- I'll blog about it! I think people in Osaka are just way more relaxed and funny:)

Taylor said...

Yes, I'd love to see the video of Tokyo reacting differently. That is just so cool! To have a city that has an inside joke. Imagine if that happened in the states! =/ people would probably sue you, everyone is so uptight. Ugh!

Anonymous said...

This was a beautiful post. The weighing of both sides, but still coming to the conclusion that in spite of the negatives, moving to Japan was totally worth it---it's quite inspiring really.

Hopefully you'll catch up on your sleep tonight though. ;)

- Carmen.

Michi said...

What a beautiful post. I could somehow relate perfectly to all of your feelings...
I am always amazed at how human beings are capable of adapting to their surroundings, especially emotionally. This time period will be one of the most educational for you, and if you ever do look back, you'll be amazed at how much growing you did while abroad. Somehow, it allows you to get to know yourself better and enhance that individual relationship. :) It can be one of the most difficult times, but everyday is worth its weight in gold. *Hugs* and sleep tight. :)

Life Abroad said...

Wow this was so well-written and beautiful to read. It's nice to see the strong juxtapositions between the different elements of your adventure. I can relate to some of the things you mentioned, like the loneliness, from when I lived abroad. Although I imagine it would be much harder in Japan, just because of the language-barrier and having everything so culturally different.

Corie said...

I love reading posts like this! Not only because I can so easily relate, but because you've summed up such complex feelings and experiences so elegantly. Thank you!

Brenna said...

I can totally relate to this post. I read at a time when I was going through the same thing! All of my anglophone friends have left my town over a month ago - and some days I feel so lonely. But I count every social success as a major victory!

Your blog makes me want to visit Asia. I've never been and I hope one day I will have the opportunity to go.

Peter Palmer said...

Hey I work at Peppy kids now and asked you a few questions months ago about it. You were very helpful. I can't help buy nod my head as I read your post on the double edged sword that is Japan, and all of its loneliness.