A year in Japan.
One year ago, at this time (10pm Japanese time / 2pm English time) I was standing in my room in West Kensington, London (think Earls Court/ scummy area NOT South Kensington / museums / posh bit) and feeling a mixture of emotions: relief that I was getting the hell out of London and away from a life of shared housing and stressful jobs; excitement that I was finally, after all the planning and preparation, going to be off to Japan; a little bit of nervousness as I wasn't sure what exactly to expect; and a huge huge huge amount of stress as I'd left so much important stuff to the last minute.
I had a taxi due at 3.30 and an ex-boyfriend due at 2pm to help me. He was late; the taxi got postponed. I'd already run out to the post office once to buy boxes to post stuff. They hadn't been packed. I still hadn't, in fact, finished my packing, let alone taken the boxes to the post office and lots of bags to the charity shop. My room was still in a huge mess while I was desperately trying to fit as much as possible into my bags, whilst well aware I was probably well over the luggage allowance, and I still had lots to throw out, organise to send to Sarah to look after, Linda to look after and to me in Japan. I also still had cleaning to do. Oh, and a plane to catch. The ex ran me to the charity shop and he eventually sorted out the boxes too. We lost touch once I got here. That's life.
I can still remember the stress and disorganisation.
And the taxi fuck up that stressed me even more. (See here: Post from this time last year.)
And I remember bursting into tears at the airport when the taxi dropped me off and not appreciating the relief of not getting any hassle at all for having so much luggage. And finding some of the people from my course in a bar (where else) at the airport. And I just smiled reading over my first impressions from the post I linked above.
What's changed in the year? Me, I think. I've never had a whole year in my whole life where I've been, effectively, without any stress. It's quite something. Embarrassingly, my Japanese is still little better than when I got here but it's annoyingly easy to get by without it. I do intend to try and ram some into my head in the next 12 months though.
And I'm proud I've kept the blog going regularly the whole time I've been here: it's quite rare for me to stick to anything. And, whilst I may never get the huge amount of hits many blogs get, I like it that people read it from all over the world - even if there is only an average of 30 of you! Sadly, I'm pretty sure some of the people this was originally intended for don't check it ever. But that's life.
I love it that I've taken advantage of my location and have been to Sapporo, Taiwan and Hong Kong in the last 12 months, with Vietnam to come in December. I've been to sumo and kabuki and sung more drunken karaoke than I care to remember. I've eaten and drunk loads of things that I'd never tried before and, more to the point, I actually enjoy what I'm doing here. Most of the time!
Sorry, this is a bit of a jumbled bitty post but I'm trying to keep it brief!