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Japan, 5 years 1 month later

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View from my room - the school is on top of a mountain

View from my room – the school is on top of a mountain

I’m in Japan, and will be for the next 3 months or so. This blog will be temporarily co-opted to be used as a travel blog, even though I’m really here for work, not travel. Obviously there will still be many many food posts. I also have to write up about my Korea trip still. I don’t have a particular coherent plan for this, but it’s my blog, so I’ll do whatever I want damn it!

Besides sitting next to a sophisticated high school student who was selected by his city to go to Japan, who’s been to China, who saw Brokeback Mountain a long time ago (um, why did your parents let you do that?), and who had a strong opinion about “Her”, the plane ride was pretty uneventful. You know, screaming children, bad food, and lots of mindless movie watching. Long flights always humble me – forget ambitions, forget overseas travel or grant or career advancement, just let me off this flight and stay in Boston forever please!

Most planes eventually land, though, as mine did, and I even got through custom despite being so out of it I did everything wrong and could not answer the officer’s questions in a coherent manner. Orientation started almost immediately, and it’s been somewhat exciting. I said “somewhat” because I’m not really keen on reading 1000+ pages of information, and my level of energy is very different from those who are in Japan for the first time. I remember what it was like, 5 years ago – I was that excited too! This time, the excitement is calmed a little bit by nostalgia – which is to me an endearing feeling! but a low energy one – and anxiety. I was here as a pampered student, whose day-to-day minute details were all taken care of. This time, I’m in Japan as a Full Adult, and it’s exciting in that nerve-wracking way to think about my life as an adult who will have to pay rent, cook my own food, and figure out my own insurance. In a foreign country.

Orientation is also exciting in that tiring way because we constantly have to meet new people. It’s part networking, part “let’s get along well because we’re going to see each other at work every day for the next 3 months”, neither of which is bad, per se, it just makes me pause sometimes between genuinely fun conversations because I have to remind myself to enjoy the moment, and stop questioning whether these relationships are real, or whether they will last. It’s the peril of trusting people too fast.

For now, I’ll try to adjust myself to the overwhelming feeling of meeting and talking with 100 different people at once (no, really, there are 115 of us), and just enjoy the lush greenery of Japanese summer. And the constant rain. It’s almost amusing how constantly it has been raining.

Next up: meeting with the Japanese Emperor and Empress. Nope, not kidding!



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