Getting Out of a Rut

Tsubaki Shrine

It’s almost the end of winter.  I can feel that the weather is slowly getting warmer and I’m becoming more anxious to see the beautiful, cherry blossom filled spring that I’ve been waiting for since forever.  For the past month, I’ve decided to stay indoors, partly because it’s cold and partly because I was in a super money saving mode.  I feel that this hermit lifestyle set me into a monotonous routine.  Wake up, go to work, work, come home, eat dinner, sit around, sleep, then do it all over again.  A part of me says, Hey!  You’re living in Japan.  Just go outside and walk around.  I haven’t really listened to my inner self since it has been too cold and windy.  With all the excitement of moving abroad, I now realize that it is possible to have a monotonous life, even when living in a foreign country.  If you’re not constantly traveling, you can settle into a comfortable lifestyle and fall easily into that daily routine.  I want to get out of this feeling and find that excitement of being here in Japan.

I’ve thought about the things around town that I want to do, just to get out of my apartment and be able to experience life in my town.  With the next coming month, I’ve decided to change that monotonous lifestyle and add a bit of color to my life by:

  • Reading in a café, once in a while.  It’s one of my goals to read more, so why not step outside and find a comfortable café to sit, read, and enjoy Japanese café life.  I just finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed, now I’m reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.  I’m not sure what to expect from Never Let Me GoWe’ll see what happens!
  • Hiking.  Another one of my goals is to be more outdoorsy.  My dad would always take us hiking when we were younger and we would complain a lot, but secretly, I loved it.  I love being outside and being one with nature.  There are a ton of mountains here, so I’m sure there are a ton of beautiful hikes to do.
  • Working up the courage to ask more coworkers to a meal.  I’ve had lunch with a few coworkers and I loved being able to talk to them on a more personal level to get to know them better.  I would love to get together with them again as well as ask more people out to eat.  It will also help me practice Japanese!
  • Going on more walks/bike rides around town.
  • Going to the onsen.  Relaxation time!

These are the activities I hope to implement more within the coming month, in order to get myself out there a little more.  I’m also happy that these activities don’t cost a lot, so my wallet will be very happy.  I hope this will bring me back to feeling the excitement of living in a foreign country.  I truly love being here and I don’t want to take my experience for granted.

Have you had the experience of falling into a monotonous lifestyle as an expat?  Do you have any advice to find the excitement of being in another country again? 

Linking up with Weekly Wishes


  1. Autumn

    Ah, Japan! I miss it so much. I love South Korea but my time in Japan just held a special part of my heart. The hiking is great there, I loved it! I find myself getting into a monotonous routine too… I try to do something new every week to keep things a little interesting. Either visiting a new place or trying a new activity. :)

  2. Kaelene Spence

    I find it quite easy to fall into a monotonous routine when living abroad. It almost makes it feel a bit more like home for me as well just having such a set routine of things. But I try and be sure to quickly shake out of it and go try new things.

  3. Anna

    Same here, I have been waiting for the cherry blossom to bloom since forever! I can’t wait for spring to start. Because of the cold I do find myself hibernating and just sticking to the same routine but I do want to start trying out new things.

  4. esther julee

    Not as an expat, but moving from ATL to LA in 2013 and then moving from LA to Las Vegas in 2014.. i kinda know what you mean. It’s so exciting at first and there seems so much to discover, but then you lose that awe and wonder. I’ve been trying to remind myself not to lose that awe and wonder. I just read never let me go a few months ago. I actually don’t remember much of it, bc I read it so fast. Hmm come to think of it, I don’t even know if I liked it or not. I’ll need a refresher! :)

    • Mallory || Sweet Smores

      I need to find that awe and wonder I had when I first got here. Work has been a little stressful lately and I’m not sure why, so I need to have some little trips for myself to go out and explore!

      I can’t really tell if I like the book yet haha! Only because I’m not sure where the plot is going. I don’t know how the back story is going to tie in with the rest of the novel.

  5. Alex Fahey

    Oh my gosh yes! What I’ve realized is that if you’re a homebody in America- you’re most likely a homebody as an expat. Before moving I thought every weekend we would be going on these amazing weekend jaunts and adventures, but that’s not the case. Sometimes we feel like a lazy weekend after a long week of work, or we just want to save some money, or I need to put in a long study day. I think as long as we adventure out every couple of weeks we are doing good. Now that it’s getting warmer we can go outside and at least be outside while studying or reading. Good luck with your goals! {PS- I’ve been wanting to ask a co-worker to dinner, but I’m so scared!}

    • Mallory || Sweet Smores

      I’m so tired after a week of work that I’m so lazy on the weekends too. In the past couple months, I’ve barely done any trips, but I’m happy with spring break coming up that I’ll be able to go out and see more of Japan. That is so true, being a homebody both back at home and as an expat!

  6. Jamie | ink + adventure

    “it is possible to have a monotonous life, even when living in a foreign country” I think a lot people [both those of us as expats and those back home] can forget this. there is still life to deal with. going out an having an adventure requires effort no matter where you are – and your goals sound both achievable AND plenty adventurous. I’ve been in Taiwan for 1.5 years now and sometimes it just feels so normal… that’s usually when I find someplace new to go drive my scooter or pick out an adventure :)

    • Mallory || Sweet Smores

      I’ve begun to realize this. I thought I’d be doing so much traveling every week, but I’m so tired after work that I just want to sit around haha. I don’t want to get too comfortable sitting around though, because I know this experience won’t last forever. Hopefully, I can add a few more trips in the next few months.

  7. Polly

    Expat life is definitely not exempt from any of the ups and downs of “normal” life!

    Whenever I get in that rut, I always force myself to go out to a new metro stop in the city and walk/take photos. It’s a nice ways to get out of the house and refocus.

  8. Erika Sevigny

    Ah, while I’m not an expat, February was a super monotonous month for me too. The routine I found myself in definitely was doing me no good. This week, I went to a few more happy hours, spent more time outside of my apartment and tried to mix things up. It made a huge difference! I hope you find yourself climbing out of your rut soon too!

    • Mallory || Sweet Smores

      I went out this weekend, doing things I don’t usually do, so that was exciting! The beginning of this month has been looking better than all of February itself, so fingers crossed that March will be a good month. I hope March is exciting for you as well :)

  9. Erika

    I totally relate to this, once again! Even though I am not living abroad, I am going through some of the same things… and February was definitely a month of me being stuck in several ruts. I’m starting to break out but it’s because I’m breaking out of my comfort zone, quite like you are proposing here. I do like your ideas about finding a cafe and reading there — I should totally try that. Just bring a leisure book to enjoy sometime. And I definitely want to get outdoors more. I’m so excited about when the weather gets better and the snow is off the ground; I’d like to explore some of the great nature that they have around here.

    Anyway, way to find ways to get out of your funk. And isn’t it amazing how we can become so habituated to things? Like, I can’t believe you’ve been in Japan for so long already… and your sentence about walking outside your door and being in Japan really struck me… it’s so easy to adapt and fall into our old patterns, but we gotta keep trying and keep remembering the things that make us happy and the opportunities that won’t be around forever. :)

    • Mallory || Sweet Smores

      Oh winter, it gets the best of us. I can’t wait until it starts warming up! It’s March and it snowed the other day and it was spring weather literally two days before. Ah! I’m slowly going out and doing more things, but I wish I had things to do on the weekdays after work. I’m usually just sitting here until it’s time to go to sleep. I’ll have to incorporate walking or reading at a cafe into the week days too. I hope it warms up for you too soon! Let’s go explore our homes more :)

      It’s crazy how long I’ve been here already. Time is flying by so quickly. I need it to slow down so I can catch my breath sometimes!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s