I feel really stupid for thinking this was going to be fun and exciting and ramen and anime all the time because right now it’s more like just me feeling sad and scared and lonely all the time. And I hate it. I miss my friends and family. I miss being able to understand people at the grocery store, and I miss driving on the right side of the road in my blue-gray toyota corolla on spacious roads with actual sidewalks. I miss knowing my way around a place, and not getting lost looking for a neighborhood park. I miss channel surfing and watching episodes of my favourite T.V. shows on netflix or hulu. I miss sitting down to eat dinner with my old roommates or members of my family. I miss being in a house or apartment with more than one room and filled with jokes and good talks. I miss being able to call up a loved one without worrying about the time difference and cost of an international call. I know I really should have expected all this, but this is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I hate it.

But please don’t tell me, “well you signed up for it, so grow up and deal with it.” And please don’t tell me, “you know you could always just quit and go home.” Because 1) telling someone to “suck it up” isn’t going to magically make them suck it up, and 2) quitting, for me, is never an option. I am contracted for six months, from October to March, and so I will stick it out until my last work day: March 25, 2015, which, as of now, is 24 weeks away. I just have to hang in here for 24 more weeks. So I will “suck it up” and I will “deal with it” (but that still doesn’t mean I want you to tell me to do those things), I’m also just going to have to accept the fact that this will not be easy.

I’m also going to chalk up my pouty feelings in the opening paragraph to fact that the “honeymoon” period of my experience has finally worn off. My first two weeks in Japan were actually really cool. I arrived in Tokyo and was able to find my way to my hotel and get settled in all fine and dandy. I found training to be difficult at times, but overall, interesting and neat. I even reached out to friend of a friend in Tokyo and spent Friday evening meeting new and fascinating people in Shinjuku. On Sunday, despite torrential rain from a typhoon, I wandered around Takeshita Street in Harajuku. Monday, I watched the typhoon rain down from my hotel window and rested from the weekend’s excursions. Tuesday, I raced to Haneda airport to arrive in Kumamoto by noon, and spent the rest of the day getting settled in my new (read: tiny) apartment in Ozu with the help of a company coordinator. Wednesday, with the help of that same coordinator and a company manager, I drove into the mountains to visit my schools and the Board of Education. On Thursday, I traveled to one of my four schools independently (yay me!), and taught 3 lessons which mainly consisted of me introducing myself and answering questions from students, who seem fantastic so far. Friday, I traveled to Fukuoka by train and went to a company training in the afternoon. After that I got to know a couple of my fellow ALTs in the northern Kyushu area over dinner (one of them was even from Texas and the other from Ireland!), and then met up with another friend of a friend before catching my last train back to Ozu.

Satuday, I video chatted with my family and responded to an email from my Godparents, and after all that, I realized the enormity of my decision and I crumbled. The distance, difference, and the difficulty of moving to and living and teaching in Japan finally settled in on me, and it was overwhelming. I hesitated to write this post because I’m never sure who will read these things, and the last thing I want is for my family (i.e. my parents) to be worried or concerned. I knew I couldn’t keep it bottled up, and I wouldn’t be an honest or authentic person if I let this blog become a highlights reel of my life and never posted about times like this when all I want to do is hop on a plane back to the States and crawl into a familiar bed and stay there. So here it is: My first blog post about living in Japan.

Sorry (I’m not sorry) that it isn’t all happy, kawaii, manga, sushi excitement. It’s just me being quiet, and telling my truth. I know things don’t look or sound great right now, but I also know that the hardest things we do in life often produce the most interesting results. So, like I said, I’m going to hang in there and tough it out, and with a lot grace, mercy, hope, and prayer, maybe this experience will be one of my most rewarding yet. To everyone back in the States, I miss you more than you know, and I’ll see you again soon! To everyone I will meet in Japan: Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu!

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4 thoughts on “My First Blog Post about Living in Japan

  1. I cannot be the first to like this blog because I do not. I am so sorry that you are having a hard time now, but I also know that you are exactly where you are meant to be at this time. And even though it may not be easy, “this too will pass”. You WILL get to the point where you will find your way around without a problem, be able to communicate at the supermarket, get over the tiny apartment, meet new people, make new and good friends, and eventually like and enjoy your time time. I know this because I know you, you have proven from a very young and tender age that you are strong, determined, disciplined, and have the will to do what God has called you to do!

    Please know that all your family has you constantly covered in prayer and asking God’s blessing and protection over you always. We miss you tremendously and are so, so, very proud of you baby.

    May God always cover you with His presence, strengthen you with His joy, protect you with His blood, guide you with His spirit, encourage you with His word, and fill you with His love.

  2. Hey Janessa, first, I’m sorry you aren’t in the happiest of places right now. That’s crappy, and although people may try to cheer you up, you may continue to feel sad/lonely/negative/whatever for days or weeks to come.

    At the same time, I agree with Grace’s comment. There will come a time where you know the area and have friends and enjoy your life in Japan. It really will happen. It may not feel like it, but I bet you, by the time you’re done in March, you’re going to think about staying a little longer.

    Whatever happens, I wish you peace right now and for tomorrow.

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