I honestly don’t know where time went — one minute I was bidding my family goodbye as I walked past the departure gates, and the next thing I knew, a little over two months had passed since I started my new life in Japan. I’m not sure if anyone expected a regular stream of new places I’d been to, new scenery, and generally speaking, new experiences; but living in Japan as a resident is vastly different from visiting the country as a tourist. Whilst I’m still able to explore previously undiscovered parts of the city, most of my time here comprises routine aspects of everyday life, from figuring out my bills, to juggling studies and work. As a naturally introspective person, this has given me plenty of time to reflect on my new chapter so far.
Arguably the biggest lesson I’ve learnt so far is that starting life afresh in another country doesn’t magically place me on a clean slate. What this means is that the issues that I’ve been struggling with back home won’t disappear in a new environment — for instance, my notorious tendency to procrastinate continues to haunt me every single day, and is something I continue to battle against despite knowing what’s at stake. If you’re looking to run away from problems by moving far away, just know that it will not solve all your problems.
In my case, this also includes the weather; my teacher just casually told the class the other day that Kofu is actually the hottest place in Japan, even beating out Okinawa. This is mostly due to its geographical location — Kofu sits in a basin surrounded by mountains, which effectively traps heat. My classmates and friends can testify to me whining about it almost every day, because part of the reason I moved to Japan was to escape Singapore’s swamp weather; alas, it has followed me here, albeit not forever.
Nevertheless, one of my smaller aspirations was to make content out of the mundane things in life. Being caught in routines doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t beauty to be gleaned from them, whether it’s the same old path I take to school every day, or the same old buildings I regularly pass by. If I am convinced that every person has a story to tell, then surely the same should be said about inanimate objects. Coincidentally, it goes hand in hand with the Japanese belief that there’s a spirit in every object, both living and non-living.
Above all, I would say that Japan has been turning out the way I had imagined it to. I’m speaking the language and living their way of life every day, facing and overcoming new obstacles, and being forced to grow up quickly in order to adapt to the challenges constantly posed by living on my own without much of a safety net at all. I’m sure I will have opportunities to travel around Japan and revel in spectacular sights all over the country, but until then, I’m equally content with cycling down the same old path to school, with wind in my hair and a hope for tomorrow that I pray will stay alight.