Thoughts on Leaving Japan and How I Hate Change

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This is the official EverywhereToBeFound announcement that I’ll be leaving Japan and moving back to California sometime in early April 2016. I’ve put up a moving checklist for people in the same boat and for people who are curious about what it takes to move back to your home country after moving here (hint: it’s a lot of work!). But I didn’t originally announce anything earlier for a few reasons.

One, I’m living in denial. My head couldn’t get deeper into the sand if the sumo champion himself was jumping on it. If I think too hard about it or go into those countdown numbers (which are hard to get away from when your students are excited for the school year to end!) it’s hard to get back on my feet and smile. I never expected to fall so deeply in love with Japan and with the people I met here and with the person I am here. I didn’t know how full a heart could feel. A plane ticket would have a specific date, and while I am still playing the logistics game with moving out and visas, a part of why I haven’t even opened a webpage to look speaks volumes about my thoughts on the matter!

Enjoying the Ume Matsuri in Mito!
Enjoying the Ume Matsuri in Mito!

Another reason goes hand in hand with my adamant denial; I’m trying to enjoy every second I have left in Japan. While I don’t have the funds right now to go gallivanting off to every place I keep adding to my mental  ‘Places I Want To Go in Japan’ list (shouldn’t this have shrunk after two years, not quadrupled?!), I am living in the present moment and absorbing every second I can’t understand a full conversation and staring at the futons drying in the sun. (Why seeing clothes and futons out drying in the sunshine is one of the things I’ll miss most is still a bit of a mystery, but it’s just such a peaceful scene!)

Drying futons out the window!
Airing out blankets out the window!

So I’m eating ramen and karaage and sushi and curry and tempura and gyuudon and dorayaki and soba and senbei at alarming rates while trying to continue fitting into my work pants, because buying a new pair for a few weeks just isn’t worth it!

I’ll be going back to school to finish earning my California Multiple Subject Credential so I can officially start teaching in elementary schools. In the U.S.? In a brand new country? Back in Japan? The location is still wildly up in the air! But it’ll be nice to have my own classroom and some authority, as well as going back to teaching science. I seriously miss that.

I realize that change is a part of life, and to continue growing and challenging myself, change is necessary. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. It’s not in my nature to take change well at all. My bedroom at my parents’ house hasn’t changed since I redecorated it as my 6th grade graduation present!

Change is hard. Change is sad. Change is scary. And so I’ll try to accept it as graciously as I can, I’ll cry a whole lot more tears while remembering that showing all kinds of emotions is healthy, and I’ll remember that change brought me here in the first place. My life plan going through college never once included this experience, and it’s been the most fabulous two years!

Torii in Hokota, Japan.
Torii in Hokota, Japan. April 2014.

I am returning to people I love more than anything and a climate that isn’t ever cold. I will have the opportunity to study subjects that I love and to enter into a profession I have worked hard for and find absolutely fulfilling. While coming back won’t ever be the same I will keep the friends I’ve made here for the rest of my life. Change doesn’t have to be the end of the world. I have to keep reminding myself that this isn’t the end of all my adventures. It’s the end of only one, and the beginning of so many more. The rest of my lifetime’s worth!

“Do something that scares you as often as possible.”

“Life only begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

I have always loved these two quotes and now I need to embody them. Keeping Japan and all it represents to me and all that I’ve learned about myself in my heart, I’m almost ready to step into my next chapter!

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