Currently: When the Honeymoon Stage Wears Off

I did it.

I packed up my things, and I moved to Japan to live and work for (at least) a year.

Before the flight, people would ask me the same thing over and over again. “Are you ready?”

Hell, yeah! What a silly question- I thought.

The thing is, there are only so many things you can prepare for, but the reality is that things will still be hard in some shape or form.

I remember the day I flew over, rushing with my mom and sister that California morning. I didn’t have time to feel nervous…well nervous about anything other than getting all my luggage. During that flight, all I felt was anticipation for the new chapter of my life that I was soon to start.

Meeting the other two people that I would train with only helped solidify my excitement for my new life (they are awesome). Even after the intense training sessions, my adrenaline must have been continuously pumping that week in a half because I was more excited than anything to be somewhere new on my own, halfway across the world. The food, the people, the possibilities of cool places to visit and explore- all of it seemed amazing.

Then, I moved into my apartment.

This did not upset me. In fact, I was ecstatic to finally  have my own place for the first time. The previous teacher who lived in my current abode and the staff I currently work with kindly provided necessities. Great!

In fact, I was ecstatic to finally  have my own place for the first time. The previous teacher who lived in my current abode and the staff I currently work with kindly provided necessities. Great!

But, whoever is reading this, let me just tell you: I’m an introvert.

What does that have to to do with what I’ve said so far?  Well, let me get to it.

This does not mean that I dislike talking (quite the opposite). This does not mean I hate people (why would I otherwise take a job where I’m around people ALL the time??)

However, this does mean that I’m not a huge party person. I get tired very easily when I’m constantly interacting with a lot of people. I dread the thought of having to interact with a lot of people unless there is a specific task that I could focus on while mingling among others.homesick

My point in saying this is that there are times where I need to be alone. I love being by myself at times. But I realized between the move and the stress of starting a new job in a foreign country with no close friends or family nearby, the homesickness started to crowd in.

This is not a new concept in the expatriate world. From what I gathered from many blogs and vlogs (video blogs), this is a normal thing. People handle it in different ways, (because, you know, we are all different) but no one is fortunate enough to have skipped this stage.

I have heard more than an earful of advice from my mother since she has been in a similar situation. I have researched the internet numerous times to see how other people have dealt with it. I’ve even implemented some of the advice in my life. It’s helped.

I feel bad though. I’m not a partier and not much of a drinker. I’ve been invited to bars and I’ve gone a couple of times, but it’s not really something I’m into.

I’ve been researching to see if I can find any writing, dance, or book groups. I’m hoping to find other foreigners here for me to connect with to do things other than getting trashed after a hard day at work. I’m hoping that, if I can develop friendships like that then being alone in Japan will not feel so lonely.

 

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Me Trying Hard NOT to be MIA

Hello Beautiful People.

Long time, no write. I’m sorry about that.

I’ve been in Japan for over two weeks now and there has been constant activity.

There has not been time for much writing of any kind, for editing videos, nor for much organizing.

So, I will say that my posts will be sporadic. But I will try to share my experiences as often as possible. I already have some pictures in my arsenal to whip out. So be ready!

Until then, Peace, Love, and Chicken Grease.

(P.S. Sheree, if you’re reading this, thank you advance for letting me borrow that. 😆)

Thoughts.

Thoughts a month before the move.

  1. I’m not ready.
  2. However, I finally get to eat authentic Japanese food again..
  3. Wait. Should I have tried to leave after the major holiday season passed?
  4. Ugh. Money…
  5. On another note, this is the boldest thing I have ever done in my life. Adventure Time!

This is the general sequence of my thoughts from time to time.

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Has anyone else who traveled abroad for the first time, for short-term or long-term stay, had similar thoughts?

Americans May have more Manners than the Japanese?

One of the more common adjectives associated with Japanese people seems to be “polite.” However, I have seen the dark side.

Yes, I have seen- and heard- Japanese like slurp their noodles at the table. Of course, these experiences happened 13 years ago. Some things may have changed.

Perhaps not as ferociously as this girl eats down below…

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That is NOT polite in the west. We actually find it a bit rude to slurp.

When I witnessed this as a child, I was very confused. Of course I asked questions. How come my mother told me to always excuse myself if I did such a thing, but in Japan, people were congratulated? Why?

Well, it maybe rude in the United States but in Japan, this is a technic that actually helps the noodles cool as they travel to your  mouth. Women also slurp. Men aren’t the only one’s who get to have the fun. Any you know what? It’s perfectly fine within Japanese etiquette.

Last week, when I visited my regional Japanese consulate to complete paperwork, a young Japanese father repeatedly said “sumimasen” (excuse me) when addressing the clerk. It was almost like he was apologizing to her for bothering her, even though her job was to serve him.

The image of the girl slurping her noodles at the table and and a guy repeatedly saying “excuse me” to a clerk may seem to be on the opposite ends of the courtesy spectrum. But in reality, even something considered rude in the west is still a show of courtesy and gratitude in Japan.

 

Go figure.

 

 

The Law of Life

This is a poem I’d written some time ago. It gave me pause when I was going through some old writing. As individuals, sometimes we have more power than we credit ourselves.

“The thing to fear

is fear itself,” someone once said.

What is more to fear

than to fear yourself?

You can break

and take

and never give back.

You can make

and shake

and create a new fact.

Never underestimate what God gave you

because what every you create can destroy you too.

This is to you, you, and you.

 

When you are given permission by society to travel by yourself as a woman

travel-alone-womanI’m a coward.

I’ve known this for a long time. It’s hard to get out of cowardly habits quite frankly. I was definitely one of those people who cared incredibly too much what other people thought.

But let me first tell you about my mom, the one person who inspires me.

She is fearless. She may say otherwise, but to me, she is the bravest person in the world.

It is bravery to travel and live abroad with two children by yourself not once, but twice. I could not have possibly done it.

That being said, growing up I was always told to be careful because it was dangerous for a woman to be told to travel alone. There was an increase in human trafficking, reports of rape and murder, etc…

This was drilled into my head as a young age. My father was definitely nervous one about it all. I’m sure we all have had this experience.

I may have been hard-headed about a lot of things, but I took this seriously. I knew that this happened. I wasn’t that stupid of a kid not to listen.

All of a sudden, blog posts, youtube videos, tweets…have all been talking about traveling alone. This is not just getting on a plane by yourself to meet others at the destination. This is to travel by yourself. Sightsee by yourself. Get a hotel room by yourself.

Now you must understand, I didn’t get it. For one thing, money. But another thing: isn’t that sort of dangerous? I thought.

But then, I just think about my mom traveling across the world to a foreign country with two young kids. I’ve had an example, among others, of a woman being bold enough to have an adventure despite the naysayers. What’s different now?

Validation. The world is finally given some indication that it is actually okay to travel and explore on your own…and that average people can do it!

I shouldn’t have needed it. Like I said, I’m a bit of a coward. But I’m glad there are other fabulous women like my mother who travel to follow in their footsteps.

Twenties, Broke, and Happy

This has nothing to do with travel. This has nothing to do with culture. But it is everything that we, the twenty-somethings, are going through after college. I hope this inspires you.

MoCurls

From the title, I hope you can tell this is a journey post. It’s probably a post many people in their twenties can relate to. It’s probably a phase many people have gone through in their lifetime. I just wanted to make this post to say; you’re not alone.

I graduated in 2015 and I had plans. Plans to find a job that made 30k a year (for a starting career I believe is decent), move out of my mom’s house, and living the life I dreamed for my TWENTIES. A week before my graduation, I was able to line up two interviews (School doesn’t teach you about mastering interviews, you learn on your own) and I saw my future bright like a diamond.

After a few weeks, my graduation day had come and gone. The recruiters from the two interviews had my mind in limbo everyday as I…

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Prepare to Live Abroad (For the Disorganized)

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So, I’m packing for my big move to Japan that will happen in a few months (Whoop Whoop!). So, much to do in so little time!

Pretty soon, I’ll start a career overseas. I will be the renaissance, carefree black magical curly- haired woman I have imagined myself to be ever since I was a young girl. (Well, not the curly-haired part. We may talk later about my once-upon-a-time inferiority complex of my now loved curls to the once adored idea of having straight Euro-centric hairstyles.)

Anyway.

Besides the stress for the most obvious preparation checkpoints (visa documentation, plane ticket, brush up on my language skills), there is a much deeper concern here.

I’m not a planner.

This, you may say, is no big deal. Just get a planner.

As a soon-to-be instructor of the English language to those who are learning the language as a secondary language, I need to get my ish together.

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Well, this is my journey I have been steadily attempting to wrestle with for the past several years, and there are some things I a slowly am figuring out for myself.

Let me share.

Desk Calendars/ White Boards

Now, I hear all of the praise of the use of a daily planner. All the time, my mother tells me to write things down to remind me of dates and times that have been scheduled.

But who will remind me to look at my planner? No one will be there to remind me months from now when I am living in a foreign country on my own.

More recently, I realized that I needed visual reminders. Therefore, I have a couple of wall calendars on the wall above my bed. That way, I don’t have to search to look at any scheduled appointments. Everything would be right in my face. No excuses.

A white board is great for many things. But for me, I decided to buy two small boards from the dollar store. With one, I create a daily to-do list. This helps me organize my thoughts so that I am not overwhelmed.

I also created a done-list with the other. Many times I am not done with all of the tasks that I have set for myself for the day. Seeing the done list reminds me of my productivity and not to be so hard on myself.

Down-sizing

I realized that I cannot own too many things. Honestly, I do not have a knack for organizing and decorating. I have too many things in my possession for no reason, and at times, I cannot figure out a way to have some organization that is functional.

My solution? Give everything away.

I can’t say I’m going the minimalist route (I have nurtured an alarming obsession with buying books). Many things may have to stay in storage during my time abroad (i.e. book collection).

As far as moving abroad, it’s best to pack the necessities. The general rule: if it’s something that can be bought at your destination and/or it is not a thing of high importance, don’t bring it.

I’m pretty sure there are more things to share with my fellow disorganized wanderers.

 

4 Semi-Free things to do in Orlando: a City of the Sunshine State!

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So you guys, I’ve been doing a bit of traveling, including visiting family down in the sunny, incredibly humid, and surprisingly rainy state of Florida.

 

I know this isn’t exactly glaringly novel information. But it is new to me. I never traveled to Florida before.

 

This is the land of alligators, popular beaches, and a wealth of amusement parks. As you can see, there is plenty to do in this state. If you decide to vacation here, there is definitely a list of options. Especially in Orlando.

 

What can you do that’s free? That’s the million dollar question ( no pun intended).

 

If you come from a walkable city like me, you may understand my pain. In Cleveland, there may not be attractions that could live up to Orlando’s universal studios, but people who live there, have found ways to beat around the usage of a dollar.

1) Shadow Bay Park

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A sight during a walk on a nature trail.

This is just a community park located in Florida that the locals go to. There are nature trails, playgrounds, tennis courts, and a basketball court. That park was one of my favorite places to travel to. And it didn’t cost a dime.

2) Universal CityWalk

Now we all know about the theme parks that are spread about the city.  From DisneyWorld to the new water park that is in construction, all are a lot of fun and a lot of money. But did you know you can enjoy some of the perks without having to be in any of those parks?

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A hub of lights, sound, and activity!

 

Well you could come to this hotspot! This is a hub of entertainment, eateries, and (seemingly) endless shopping options. Parking is $20.00 but is free for residents after 6pm. 

3) St. Petersburg Beach

Now, if you love the beach, then you are a friend of my own heart. I love the beach!  This is a popular spot that sits outside of Tampa. Resorts have this area covered to give their guests a great view and great time near the water.

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 4)  Black Hammock Adventures

On Lake Jesup, there is a free live alligator and bird exhibits. Watch trainers feed the 12-foot (3.6-meter), 650-pound (295-kilogram) resident gator Hammy on Sunday afternoons. At the restaurant, listen to free live music every Friday and Saturday night. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see this. Even though I’m not a huge fan of reptiles, I still think that would have been an interesting experience.

 

Even though all of these options are not entirely free, they will help prevent the burn in your pocketbook from getting any deeper. Orlando is definitely an expensive play to have fun in.

 

Rejection Makes Success

Traveling the world is something that many people dream, and in many cases leave as only as a pipe dream. Like many other fantastical goals, this dream is locked in their heads like a forbidden fantasy, with excuses of w

Money. Family. Careers. Responsibility.

I’m young and broke. I graduated with my undergraduate degree a year and a half ago, and I feel no richer than I was in college (Loan payments. Ugh.). Responsibilities are all I know.

But recently, one of my deepest desires is now an opportunity for me. (Travel) This only happened after the hurdle that I struggled against was pulverized. (Fear)

I feared that I was not good enough. I feared that I didn’t deserve to travel abroad because of the many rejections I received.

 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return.” ~ Galatians 6:7

Oh no. She’s going to start preaching….

No.  The meaning of this is that God will provide the consequences for whatever work man has invested, whether good or bad. Believer or not, results are shown with hard work.

After pushing my fear aside, I never stopped searching for opportunities. Then, one popped up.

Persistence is key.

I now think rejection is a good thing. It toughens you up. Plus, there is that proud feeling you get when you finally succeed.