I can’t believe it’s already September! It’s been a little over a month since I arrived in Japan and lets just say, I’ve already experienced so many things. I had my culture shock moment after all these little everyday stresses started building up. Everyday is a new adventure for me, filled with so many different emotions, even if I’m just going to the grocery store. Trying to find vegetable oil took me about 15 minutes (turns out they don’t have it at my store). Sometimes I need to look up the Kanji for certain things I’m looking for and match them up on the labels because I can’t read Kanji. Little occurrences like these are a learning experience in itself, because I get to interact with the local people and I’m learning what it’s like to be one of the community here. Along with learning about culture, I’ve also learned a lot about myself and my relationship with Mark.
There are some little things that I’m trying to get used like the fact that you walk on the left side of the sidewalk. I’ve almost ran into other bikers because I’m walking on the right side. Another thing that I’m trying to get used to is finishing all my food when eating in front of my co-workers and when school starts, my students. You’re basically expected to finish all your food, which can be difficult when you’re full or there are things on your plate that you don’t like. At school, I will be eating school lunch with the students. The students are expected to finish everything in their lunch and as their teacher, I have to set an example and finish my lunch too.
I’m learning more about myself each and everyday. I know that I can get myself out of situations, even when I don’t know the language. It can be so easy to be frustrated and give up, but doing those things will not get you anywhere. I know that I truly love traveling. I was bitten by the travel bug early, since my parents took my brother and me on a vacation every summer. Once I started traveling internationally, my love for it skyrocketed. I don’t know how my love for traveling will be factored into my future, but I really hope I can travel somehow. I believe that traveling and learning about different cultures makes you more open-minded, compassionate, and patient. You get to see how beautiful the world and its people are. There are differences, but there are also so many similarities between cultures. You realize that people have the same conversations you have about life, love, work, the weather, food. They do the same things you do – they laugh, cry, they have worries. You get to experience all these similarities and differences, which gives you a better appreciation and understanding for other people.
Then, there’s the hardest part of it all: going through a long distance relationship. This is the longest and furthest Mark and I have ever been apart and the months are going to keep going by. In this past month, there have been misunderstandings and lonely times, but we both knew these things were going to happen. It’s inevitable when you can’t talk all the time and know everything the other person is doing. Sometimes longing becomes so powerful that it trumps patience. I know this happened to me a few times, but I have to keep telling myself, it’s going to take some time before we can be together again. When I travel, it sometimes makes me sad because I think of how much more fun I would be having being able to experience it with Mark. But, I need to look at it from a different view and think, “We will be here together later! And I get to be the tour guide/expert! Enjoy every traveling experience you get.” This is a huge learning and growing experience for the both of us. We have goals to look forward to that keep me motivated. I know we’ve become stronger as a couple in this past month and I know we’ll keep growing and becoming stronger with the months to come. And thank goodness for video chatting and texting apps. They’re huge lifesavers. I’m also really happy that I came across this post about Vanessa’s experiences with a long distance relationship. It made me excited and hopeful and gave me a different perspective on long distance relationships. To look at a long distance relationship as another spark to your relationship. The next time we see each other, it’ll be like a new flame was lit.
In just a month, my life has changed and I’ve learned so many new things. I still can’t believe that I’m actually living in Japan. I’m so excited about the months to come, because this is such an amazing experience. I would like to keep on growing as a person, a partner, and a cultural ambassador. I’m starting to teach today, so that will be another experience in itself! I’m excited and nervous to meet my students and co-workers and I can’t wait to get into teaching.