“Our time is running out, you can’t push it underground, you can’t stop it screaming out. How did it come to this?” –Muse, “Time is Running Out”
Today marks one month left in Japan. It is so hard to believe that I’ve been here for almost a year, as I remember leaving SFO like it was yesterday. On the other hand, it feels like I’ve been here for so much longer, and when I think about my life back home I feel a sense of detachment, almost as if it was simply a very vivid dream. I’m sure this life will feel like that soon enough.
Blog updates have been thinning out, I realize, but things have kind of normalized for me here, as I feel that I’ve adapted as much as I will to life in Japan. I am still in school and will not go on break until July 13, which is a bit inconvenient since everyone back home is on summer vacation, but it also means that I get to spend more time here. I plan on taking a trip to Tokyo with a couple of my friends after school lets out, and I will be back in the States on the 24th of July. I actually arrive in San Francisco 15 minutes before I depart from Osaka. What are things like in the Japanese future, you might ask? Maybe you’ll wish you hadn’t. Unfortunately I have no current plans to travel by way of TARDIS.
Lately my life consists mostly of schoolwork and pushing through the last stretch of papers and final exams that will consume my life these next few weeks, but I still manage to go out with friends about once a week. I have discovered the miracle that are BBC dramas over the past few months, and needless to say if you’ve had any contact with me since March, I have become a shameless slave to all things Moffat and Cumberbatch. I was occupied for a while with a speech competition, in which I was regrettably chosen at random to write, memorize, and deliver a 5-minute speech in front of a lecture hall full of Japanese people. Being the introvert I am, I can guarantee you that it was not fun, but at least it’s over and I can say I did it.
At some point, and I’m not sure when, I started counting down instead of counting up. It was definitely past the halfway point, but my pattern of thinking gradually has changed from “I’ve been here for 6 months,” and “This is my first time eating okonomiyaki,” to “I only have 2 months left,” and “This is probably my last time going to Kyoto.” It’s not as much depressing as it is interesting to me. Of course there are things I will miss terribly about Japan (karaoke, drinking culture, public transportation), just as there are things I will most definitely not miss (squat toilets, “You’re so skillful at using chopsticks!,” killer Japanese hornets as big as your thumb that will literally kill you with two stings). The same goes for America of course, but I’m trying not to think about that just yet. For some reason I find myself more frustrated with missing the 4th of July than Christmas, perhaps because no one knows what US Independence Day is here. I can’t wait to see my family again, although I know it will be strange for a while, and I am going through clarinet withdrawal, which I plan to resolve as soon as possible upon my return.
The fact that I’m leaving and not coming back anytime in the foreseeable future probably won’t hit me until I am on the plane headed home. Or perhaps even later. I’m guessing it will just feel like a vacation (one that I am ready for regardless) from my “real life” in Japan, and when it comes time to go back to school only a month after returning to America, I can guess that I will be in internal conflict with myself. Reverse culture shock is very real, and many people disregard it completely, only for it to later hurt them and those close to them. Think about it: when you go abroad, you learn to adapt to a different culture, and you are given leeway when it comes to mistakes and misunderstandings. But when you return home, all of a sudden you are expected to immediately reacclimatize to your own culture, even though you have been living in a different one for whatever length of time, and you are not given the same freedoms to make mistakes because “aren’t you an American?” It will be difficult, but at least I am aware of it and have prepared myself as much as possible. I will definitely blog more about this after my study abroad comes to a close, as it is just as much a growing experience as the time spent abroad itself, though often overlooked.
Stay tuned for Japanese baseball, Tokyo, and more as my study abroad comes to a (presently) rather stressful close!