I'm sitting in my apartment for the last morning of my life in Okuizumo. In the past year my Japanese ability has quadrupled, I've eaten more rice than I have in the other 23 years of my life combined, and I've made some really great friends. There are many things I am glad to say goodbye to, and many things I will greatly miss. Here's a top ten Japan
Top Ten Things I am glad to say goodbye to
1. School lunches- a great quantity of food I am required to eat every day regardless of whether or not I like the menu.
2. Being stared at- sometimes it feels like I've grown a second head the way people stare.
3. San'in- a girl who lives on sunshine should not have been sent to an area known for its dreariness
4. Ceremonies- The Japanese love ceremonies like crazy. Most of the time while they're occuring I'm plotting an escape route
5. Lonelines- Being in foreign country combined with one of the highest eldelry populations in Japan is not conducive to a swinging Friday night
6. Language barrier- anytime I have to do anything it requires a great deal of brainpower. Everyday tasks like buying laundry detergent or ordering food is a lot more difficult when you can only understand half of what's going on
7. Boredom- They don't work me very hard at the schools, which I suppose most people wouldn't complain about. But I'm a girl of action, and sitting at a desk all day makes me want to chew my leg off.
8. Expense- Even out here in the inaka everything is a lot more expensive than America. In the future when I am charged 8.50 for a movie ticket I will cry with joy.
9. Body issues-most Japanese are naturally thin, so their clothing is meant to accentuate a flat body type. This makes clothes shopping around here enough to warrant a therapy session.
10. Sun- Japan isn't known as "the land of the rising sun" for no reason. Even in the winter the sun rises crazy early here, and in summer as early as 4 AM. Even on cloudy days the sunrise is so bright it usually wakes me up. And in turn it sets really early- in winter before 5 PM. Now that's a downer.
Top ten things I will miss (besides the people)
1. Kaitensushi- God, I love that stuff
2. Safety- I never lock my doors. If Iwere to put my purse by the side of the road someone would probably stand guard at it for me. Vending machines and bicycles stand proudly in public places without fear of vandalism. The Japanese communal society means that idiots generally don't mess up things just for the hell of it, as Americans are so prone to do.
3. Cheap, delicious fish- Indiana is somewhat lacking in the fresh seafood department
4.Landscape- Okuizumo is quite beautiful, with its grand mountains and rice fields as far as the eye can see
5. Customer service- People who work public service jobs here are great. They actually want to make sure you get what you want. Who would have thought?
6. Being a celebrity to the kids- Although being recognized immediately by everyone in town has its downside, the kids here really seem to like me. Wherever I go I hear shouts of
"It's Natalie-sensei!" and get hugs and high-fives
7. Cash moneys- I have a good job that pays well. I can buy the things that I want and even pay off my student loan. Pretty sweet.
8. Universal Health Care- Japan already has implemented the health care system so many Americans are fighting so hard against, and I love it. Once I got sick and had to go to the emergency room in the middle of the night. How much did it cost me? $30. I went to the dentist and took care of many cavities. The bill? $16. I know money comes out of my paycheck each month not only for my expenses but for those less fortunate than me but you know what? I'm ok with that.
9. Learning- I learn new things here every day, whether it be some sort of grammar point or sometime about farming or the seasons. For example, did you know rice plants have flowers? They only bloom for about 3 days. Who knew.
10. Adventure- Every day is an adventure, and I've had the opportunity to do so many interesting things. Although living abroad can be really stressful and draining, it also opens up so many opportunities and makes us grow a lot.
I'm so thankful for this year of adventures, and a little sad that it's over. But I know that there are many more exciting things to come.
Hello, next challenge!