A Story From Japan That I Never Told My Parents

Living abroad places a huge stress on your loved ones afar. Even though my parents were always 100% supportive of me wanting to live in Japan, I know that they often worried about me living far from home all alone.

It helps a lot that Japan is a relatively safe country. The crime rate is much lower than Australia, and the people are generally kind and helpful. But of course, I faced hardships there, just as I would have if I were living in Australia. There were a few times that I chose not to tell my parents the whole story. At the time, I didn’t want to burden them with more worry than was necessary. Now that I am home, I suddenly find myself wanting to share some of these stories.

This first story is one that I have only told one person. No one else knows. There’s no leaving the best for last around these partsーstraight into the deep end.

That time I ended up at a hospital after calling an ambulance for myself.

I have a mental list of the times that I felt most scared while I was li…

How to Move Overseas Like a Champion

For many people making any kind of change is hard. Even implementing some small change, like going for a short walk every morning, seems daunting and impossible, let alone something as life-impacting as moving abroad. People often ask me, how? How do you move halfway across the world?

I would love to say that it is because I am super brave or know the secret to life, or something impressive like that. Unfortunately, I am not a particularly brave person. In fact, I spend most of my time second guessing my decisions and worrying about what to do. Even now as I sit on the back porch of my mother’s house writing this, I wonder if it was a good idea to quit my job, move back home, and commit to spending the next two years of my life and a substantial amount of money trying to get a masters degree in something that I have trouble explaining. But as I mentioned in a previous blog, at some point I came to the conclusion that doing something is better than doing nothing, and forced myself to …

The Greatest Lesson That I Have Learned From Living in Japan.

Living abroad has taught me a lot of valuable life lessons. Living in a completely different environment, you discover new perspectives. You learn to communicate via gestures and like foods that you never dreamed you would; such as tomatoes. You realise that people are inherently the same yet fascinatingly different, and what’s seen as “normal” is relative to the time, the place, and the company.

These are all important lessons.

While learning to enjoy eating tomatoes was a tough hurdle to overcome, by far the hardest truth to swallow was that sometimes we have to say goodbye.

This is not necessarily a life lesson that can only be learned through living abroad, however, in my experience the number of goodbyes that you have to say is exponentially higher when living abroad. The expat community tends to be nomadic, coming and going quickly. Just when you feel like you are getting close to someone, they announce that they are moving on to the next exciting destination. Or, like this m…

The Heart of Japan

Fukushima became a household name after the nuclear reactor meltdown caused by the Great East Japan earthquake in 2011. Of all the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami, from an economic standpoint, Fukushima was perhaps the most devastated, having to contend with being branded as ‘contaminated’. Even as some of the affected areas begin to reopen, many of the displaced residents are choosing not to return to their homes, and tourism is at an all time low.
This month I had the opportunity to visit Kawamata Town which is a small town in Fukushima that was partially evacuated for almost 7 years after the disaster. The evacuation order was finally lifted last year, with the local school reopening this April. However, only 15 students have returned to the school so far.
Yamakiya Unified School is a joint elementary and junior high school. The school building is almost brand new, featuring some of the best building design I have ever seen in a public school in Japan. What’s more, th…

Finding Tranquility in a Typhoon on Ishigaki Island

Sometimes when I am feeling particularly stressed out, I plan a trip to get out of Tokyo. Often times just having something to look forward to is enough to get me through a slump, but just in case it isn’t, I also have a trip!
I had one such trip planned for the end of September to Ishigaki Island in Okinawa.
To be honest, I had never even considered visiting Ishigaki Island. I had already been to mainland Okinawa once, and felt satisfied that I had experienced what Okinawa has to offer. What I really wanted to do was join a yoga retreat.
I am really into yoga these days and wanted to join a retreat to focus on my practice and improve my skills. I randomly searched yoga retreats on google and found one on a small island off of Ishigaki that was the right timing and price for me. It was only a 3 day retreat, but I decided to go for the week. Lazing on a beach, snorkeling and scuba diving after the retreat seemed like just what I needed!
Two days before I was due to fly to Ishigaki Islan…

Finding Your Passion

I feel incredibly blessed to have been raised by parents who tell me that I can be anything I want to be.
Since moving to Japan, they have supported me, visited me multiple times, liked every social media post, and listened to my constant ramblings about life in Japan. Did they even have an interest in Japan before I came here?
The problem is, I don’t know what I want to be. I have lots of ideas but nothing that really jumps out at me with ‘I am your passion, pick me.’
I am spoiled for choice.
I have always been jealous of people who seem to have it figured out. From a young age they know exactly what they want to do and charge towards it with a kind of confidence that makes me wonder if they know something that I don’t.
I have read so many blogs, listened to so many TED talks, and spoken with so many people about how to find your passion.
Some people tell you to try a variety of jobs to get a better feel for who you are. Others recommend taking a personality test so that you can be ma…

Challenge or Torture?

It's a fine line between challenging yourself and torturing yourself.
Since moving to Tokyo, this is something that I have contemplated often.
I have a friend who said he would never live somewhere he doesn't want to live. Life is too short to waste doing things you don't wanna do in places you don't wanna be. He makes a fair point. Who knows when your last breath will be? No one could say that a life spent doing what you love every day is a wasted life.
On the other hand, you could also prescribe to the idea that life begins outside of your comfort zone. If we put ourselves out there, try something that we don’t necessarily like, we learn, we grow, we discover that we love things we never knew we could love. We change. We adapt. We overcome obstacles, becoming stronger with each day that passes.
It is following this second train of thought, let's call it the ambition train, that lead me to live in Tokyo. Challenging myself to live in a city that I wasn’t particula…