Aug 6, 2017

2nd Japaniversary

As of last week I have officially lived in Japan for two years.

I could go into the typical posting about 'time as flown by' and 'I can't believe its been two years!' - all of which I do feel, but I don't really think that all needs to be said in some long dramatic post. Instead I want to just take a look back at what has changed in my life since I came to Japan and Kobe, and what I'm looking forward to over the next year!

Coming to Japan has been pretty much a life long goal of mine - whether to visit or live in some capacity. So finally moving here was very overwhelming, but exciting. I'm so thankful for the chance to partake in the JET Programme, and get placed in such an amazing city.

When I first arrived it was all very exciting and new and shiny - very honeymoon faze. I met some great people and got to experience so much right away; junior high school life, all night clubbing in Osaka, summer festivals, traveling on the shinkansen, visiting friends in Tokyo and Nagano, jetskiing in Fukushima, concerts and musicals I've dreamed of seeing, and more.

That era changed into one of a bit more turmoil and adjustment as I battled twins of culture shock and social anxiety. I went through struggles with deciding what I wanted out of my life here in Japan and had to let go to some things that was very hard. Making good friends was difficult (and still is) and I often found myself feeling a bit isolated.

It came and went though, and I had a few great people around me that first year, and started a new relationship. The first year was a bit of a roller-coaster - ups and downs over and over, very frequently - but a lot of my fond memories in Japan so far are from that very new and exciting year.

My second year was a lot more comfortable, and when I really started to realize that I could see my life continuing in this country long term. Life here started to feel more normal and I didn't feel the need to do something exciting 24/7.

I had a really rough patch around my birthday that really opened my eyes a lot. I realized more that I can't hold myself up and compare my life to others around me, and that I need to try and just enjoy the things I have in my life and live more in the moment instead of sitting around dreaming and longing for a life I will never have. It's still been a struggle, especially with so many amazing individuals in Kobe around me - its hard not to compare myself to the amazing lives they post about and talk about.

After last fall. I've been growing more and more OK with spending time solo or being to the one to reach out to people if I want something. I used to feel the need for others to actively want to be with me, so I never felt satisfied unless others asked me to hang out. But I've realized that while it feels nice to know others have thought of you enough to invite you out, its not as important as I was making it to be. If I want to do something, I'll ask others if they want to join. If no one wants to, I feel a bit sad.. but I move on and just enjoy the activity solo if I can. I know deep down I have friends and people who enjoy my company, and just because they aren't available or might have other friends they hang out with more, it doesn't make my life any less valuable.

All of that has been my main struggle this past year, and I don't think its necessarily Japan related. These feelings have been something I've always battled with, but in moving to Japan I've had to start a whole new social circle which made these feelings come to the surface.

Aside from internal struggles, my second year hasn't been too much special. I've traveled a bit within Japan; Ishikawa, Wakayama, Fukuoka, and Nara. I've become closer to my boyfriend and his family, worked more at becoming involved in the ALT community and Board of Education, and just focused on being happy and comfortable.

Looking back overall at the two years I've been here, I've matured a lot and learned a lot about myself - very cliche but also true, as I think most people who have lived overseas for an extended period of time can agree to. I also still have a long way to go, but I am started to see my future more and more clearly, at least from where I am standing at the moment.

This next year I am staying in Kobe for my 3rd year on the JET Programme. I am staying at my same schools, at least until April when I *may* request to transfer to a high school for the experience. I hope to travel a bit more - thinking Okinawa for winter and hopefully Canada with the boyfriend next summer or so. I don't have many expectations or big goals, but I do hope that I can feel more comfortable in my own mind and body, and continue on the path I've started for myself.

Last, thanks to everyone who has been a part of my life up to this point; supporting me from back home in Canada or from here in Japan.