Happy 2018: Myself

As I round out my 7-day trip through 2017, I had a hard time thinking of a final thing to be thankful for.  And then it hit me like a ton of bricks:

Myself

When I consider everything I’ve been through in the last year, and how I’ve managed to continue pushing through, I have to be really thankful and appreciative of who I am as a person.

Life enjoys throwing curve balls my way, and I’ve become quite an expert at dodging them.  I could get into nitty-gritty details, but that would spin this back around into a negative.  And that’s a place I don’t want to go.

So I’ll leave it as this:

I am strong.  I am smart.  I am adequate, I am enough.  My world does not revolve around the choices or actions of others.  I am my biggest fan and my best friend.  There is no one I would rather be at the end of the day besides myself.

And for that, and many other things, I am eternally grateful.

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Hello 2018: Living in this Century

It’s fitting that I’m writing this entry from my iPhone rather than my computer, which is where I usually write from. When I took the time to think about things I was really thankful for, I really had to appreciate the advantages living in this technologically advanced age afford.

Living in this Century

When I first came to Japan I’m 2009 living abroad was much more difficult than it is now. I often found myself lost and confused, trying to read maps and feeling downtrodden and tired frequently with my attempts to do anything outside of the University.Now, ha, I can whip out my iPhone and locate a place, get directions, the phone number, read a plethora of reviews and start walking all within the 3 minute time span. If that’s not convenient I don’t know what is. It makes living abroad much easier, but at times can be a crutch. I try to do things on my own as much as possible, but when I feel overwhelmed I turn to technology.

The other nice part about technology is now I connect and contact with friends and family back home much easier. I can call my mom on Skype for free whenever I want. It’s just like talking on the phone, but we use an app instead of the calling function on our phones.

SMS also makes it much easier to share and communicate about my life abroad. If I had been even 20 years earlier, I wouldn’t have been able to document and share with so many people. It’s amazing what technology can do.

Makes me wonder what’s next…

Hello 2018: Living Abroad

I’ve lived in Japan since I made the jump in 2013.  I’ve had the opportunity to live in two different cities while I’ve been here (not including my study abroad in Kansai in 2009).  Since I’ve come here, I’ve fallen in love with the island that is Kyushu.  So today, I’m thankful a thousand times for this chance!

Living Abroad

I’ll be honest, living in another country where English is not the native language has been a challenge.  And even though everybody studies English from Junior High School, their communicative skill in English is not very good.  Hence the reason why conversation skills are really popular.

But, when you have a challenging situation and you can power through it and be successful in another language it’s way more rewarding.  I’ve had plenty of situations where I’ve had to bumble through with my Japanese skills and though I was nervous and scared at first, but when I finished I felt such a sense of accomplishment.

Living abroad has taught me a lot about myself, and a lot about patience and acceptance.  We’ve talked a lot about making study abroad mandatory in some of my higher level classes and I truly believe that we should be encouraging more students to study abroad if they can.  It helps to make more well-rounded and diverse global citizens.  And I think on this global stage and as we continue our slow, seemingly slight descent into the future, we could use more people with level-heads on their shoulders.

Just about 2 years ago I moved to Kumamoto, Japan and I think I’ve finally found a place where I can be comfortable and happy.  When I was living in Fukuoka I felt happy, but I always felt like something was missing.  Coming to Kumamoto gave me a city full of amazing and accepting people, a wonderful night culture and the most amazing friends.  It was a bit strange how I came to be here, one day I’ll address it, but I wouldn’t change this decision for the world.

Hello 2018: Books

When I think about what has shaped me throughout my lifetime, and what is my #1 go-to when I’m feeling down, it’s definitely books.  So when thinking about things that helped me through 2017, I want to take a time to shout-out reading.

Books

As soon as I could read, books were all I thought about.  One of my favorite stories to tell in my classes is a contest we had when I was in second grade.  For every 20 books we read we would get pushed down the hallway in the principal’s chair.  And whoever read the most books would get a prize at the end of the year.

Every week I went down that hallway.  Every. Damn. Week.  And it was exhilarating.  I blew the competition out of the water.  There was no contest.  I was the clear winner from day 1.  I remember one of my classmates trying to keep up but that didn’t last long.  I was barely 7 years-old but that always sticks out at one of my fondest memories.

Every time we had a book fair or a guest author my parents continued to help foster my love of reading by buying me books and getting autographed copies.  I still have most of them, and very rarely if ever have I sold a book to a used bookstore.  Even the really awful books that I have to slog through over the course of a couple of months I’ve kept because one day I want to have my own floor to ceiling library in my home.  With a small sitting area in the window…  One day.

This year I didn’t read a lot, mostly because I went to work, came home, slept… rinse and repeat month after month.  I finished Game of Thrones earlier this year and have been trying to read through a couple other books.  My goal for this year is to read at least 24 new books.  (I re-read Harry Potter all the time, so that doesn’t count)  I’ve always wanted to read through a list and post reviews, I’ll look into doing that later this year as well.

Books.  They just make me happy.  The smell, the feel, the pages as I turn them.  Ahh, books.

Hello 2018: Family

Heading into Day 2 of 2018, I want to take this time to focus on another aspect of 2017 that helped me through the year:

Family

I would not be half the person I am now without the help and influence of my family.  We may have our ups and downs, a lot of drama (as I’m sure many other families can relate to) and not understand each other all the time, but we always support one another at the end of the day.

I had the pleasure of spending the first day of 2017 with my Mom, shopping and getting things together for my return to Japan.  Then I got to spend the evening with my Grandpa as well before I headed to the airport the next morning.  Leaving is always a bittersweet moment, because I enjoy the time with my family but I’m always ready to get back to work and settle back into life in Japan.

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I treated my Mom to some Painting with a Twist while I was home.  It was a great time, I definitely recommend it to everyone!

Throughout the year, anytime I have a question or something I need advice on, I know I can call my Mom and chat with her about it.  My favorite thing about her is that she never tells me what to do, she listens to me ramble on about what I’m thinking about and then supports the decisions I make, whether she thinks they’re good or bad.  We’re similar, so we usually agree on almost everything, but it’s just nice to have someone in my corner who supports me unconditionally.

Besides my Mom, the rest of my family supports my decision to live abroad, though they may not necessarily agree or understand why I want to continue living here.  But nobody agrees on everything, so all I ask for is the love and support of my family.  My aunts and uncle, my grandpa, my brother, sister and her kids… extended family, cousins, second cousins.  I love you all and I’m so happy that you continue to love and support me on my adventures.

I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings for my family.  I wish everyone good health and luck in the coming year.  Let’s take 2018 and make it bow to us!

Hello 2018: Friends

I decided to start the New Year off with a week-long look into 2017 and the things that have motivated me to make this an even better 2018.  I want to take this time to focus on the positives rather than the negatives, because believe me I had plenty of both this past year.  But I’m planning on starting this year with my head held high and a skip in my step as I tackle on all of the new challenges that are going to come my way.

So, without any more fluff or flare, let’s start with Day 1.

Friends

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My best friend and sister, who I spent the end of the year with!

When I look back at 2017, the first and most important thing to me that sticks out are the friends I’ve had the pleasure of meeting or deepening our relationship with.

I took a brief look back through all of the pictures I’ve taken throughout the year, in an attempt to find a good one to attach to this post, and was reminded of all of the amazing things I’ve done with friends this year.

I had many wonderful opportunities, including but not limited to:

  • A two and a half day trip to South Korea
  • The chance to visit many different shrines and castles all over Kyushu
  • A wonderful hanami party
  • A traditional Japanese tea ceremony
  • Plenty of parties
  • My first Japanese wedding ceremony
  • Among dozens more…

I have been really blessed with a very amazing and beautiful group of friends that is ever expanding.  I could be long and cliche and discuss all of the reasons why I love them in great detail, but I’ll save that for another day.

I just wanted a quick and pleasant reminder of one of the many good things that happened to me in 2017.  And to remember and work toward maintaining these relationships throughout 2018 and the future.

I spent my vacation watching Korean dramas…

I’ve been on vacation for the last week.  New Years is a really busy time in Japan and is relatable to the way we celebrate Christmas.

I had to work on Christmas, so we went to McDonald's for lunch.

I had to work on Christmas, so we went to McDonald’s for lunch.

Christmas in Japan is a lovers holiday… Usually you spend it with a special someone.  (PSA – Me and Parker are NOT dating.  You’ll see him a lot, but we’re work BFFs, there’s no attraction there, hah.)

Then on the way back to my job we posed with Santa Claus.

Then on the way back to my job we posed with Santa Claus.

And then that night we had KFC.  Eating fried chicken and Christmas cake is a MUST in Japan on Christmas.

And then that night we had KFC. Eating fried chicken and Christmas cake is a MUST in Japan on Christmas.

New Years is the big family holiday.  Everyone returns to their hometown and spends it with their families.  They eat a lot of special food and visit shrines to wish for good luck in the new year on New Year’s day.  Parker, our friend and I all went to Tenjin on New Year’s day just to check it out and it was dead.  We went the next day as well, and there were so many people I thought I was back in Osaka.  It was insane.

Other than a couple days of shopping (IKEA and Canal City in Hakata) we haven’t done much of anything.  Christmas day was when I received my first full paycheck, so we couldn’t really plan anything for the holidays because I had no money.  Our friend came up from Nagasaki, which was nice, and we relaxed a lot.

Which brings me to what I’ve done: watch Korean dramas.  I’m not ashamed of my love for Korean dramas.  It’s the only reason I have a HuluPlus membership.  I also got all caught up on Grey’s Anatomy and Glee finally as well.  I took a break from my current drama to write this.  I’m thinking of doing a Top 5 things I love/hate about Korean dramas.

I’m an expert, if you didn’t know, hah.  I’ve seen over 15 different Korean dramas at this point… some have been period pieces, some have had a lot of flower boys and a couple have had really masculine male leads.  I like a little bit of everything.  Currently I’m watching Secret Garden and I’m really enjoying it so far.  We’ll see what happens… I might finish it tonight.  We’ll see.  ^^