From the emails and other reaction I get to this blog, it appears that I portray a purely positive view of my life here. I guess that’s probably kind of misleading. I understand the reason for it, though. It’s only natural to only want to put up positive news and things; who wants to hear about anything depressing, right? But the truth is, it’s just as up and down here as it had been anywhere else.
Of course, my day to day life is not just going to parties and taking pictures of beautiful scenery in Japan. To tell you the truth, most of my days, I am not all that happy. Working days seem to take up more time than they should (I mean both the teaching and the preparation time). I really don’t socialize enough either - maybe once a week, if I’m lucky.
And, as with anything else, there are a lot of things that irritate me about this place. Just like America, it’s impossible to go anywhere and not be bombarded with advertising. And of course, the more Japanese I learn, it only makes more advertising that I can understand. And everything has to be wrapped in plastic. And there is more to life than shopping, for chrissake, although, sometimes, that’s difficult to realize here.
I’m making like a quarter of the money I used to back in the states, so I rarely get to actually sample the wonderful food here, and also have to turn down invitations to socialize with people and that doesn’t make me feel so great.
I’m pretty darn lonely here, too, as the only women I get to talk to on a regular basis are off limits if I want to keep my job, and it’s hard to meet new people without an excellent command of the language. I’m doing my best in that area, but it’s kind of slow.
I really don’t like the weather here at all. The winter here is not that bad, so far, but geez, the pleasant weather of fall lasted, like, two weeks. Today I realized that if I had visited Japan in any other months but October and November in my previous visits, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so hasty to come here. The truth is, I’m spoiled by the weather I enjoyed in San Francisco.
With all that complaining done (and it does feel good to complain!), I still really really love it here without even being able to explain why. There is a feeling of comfort and safety here that is difficult to describe. And even though the more I learn in Japanese, the more I realize it will take much longer to learn up to a practical level than I had ever imagined, I still get a thrill every time I realize I’ve learned a new word. (For example, when I see a character on a sign for a chiropractor that I don’t have to look up anymore, or I hear a word on the radio I now know). I still feel like this is exactly where I belong, as imperfect as it is.