Home is where the heart is…

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November 5th … 3 months in Japan …

Everyone says ‘home is where the heart is’, it is a simple and heartfelt sentiment, however, unsurpsingly, nobody tells you what to do when you heart resides in two places. I’ll forever be haunted and yet simulatenously blessed to have two places I call home.

Before I left for Japan I vowed that I would be blogging just as I used to and vicariously attempt to capture every moment of my new life here. I intended to move here for one year and make the most of every minute. However, three months living alone in a foreign country can change a person a lot…

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One thing that has remained true is my love for this country I have moved to, I truly am making the most of every minute here and treasuring every new memory made. However, as recontracting time approaches and I have settled into my new life, I realise it would be unwise for me to leave this life after only one year. When I departed for Japan in August I had a set plan, but now it is November, I am stuck, I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life. I always wanted to live in Japan then return to the UK to complete a Masters or PGCE, buy my first house, and do all the typical things a graduate would do. However, for the first time in a very long time, I am truly happy with myself. I am truly happy with the person I am becoming and am truly happy with my own company. I know that I do not want this to change. Being comfortable and stable can bring happiness, but living a life that truly excites me can bring so much more.

All I know for the future is that I need to continue what makes me happy, providing it allows me to live a comfortable life, it shoudn’t matter what path I choose. But for the time being, I can certainly see myself living in Japan for the foreseeable future whether that is in Hiroshima’s countryside, Hiroshima city or somewhere else entirely in Japan, I call this country home. That is not to say I dislike the UK and never want to live there again, far from it, the UK is my home and the home of my loved ones. My heart resides in two places, and there is nothing I can do to change that. For now, I have to appreciate where I live, despite the fact I know I will always long for the other.

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In other news…an update:

How is life?

If that long monologue didn’t tell you enough… Life is good, since arriving the intial excitement has certainly died down and I have settled. Of course there has been some periods where I have been hurt, frustrated, or confused, but I would say that is less to do with Japan and more to do with simply growing as a person and living alone abroad for the first time. You learn so much about yourself, what you want from life and what you need from life, meaning everyday I have to make an important decision, or at least think about decisions I need to make in the near future.

Speaking of life recently, here where I live in Hiroshima’s countryside, the landscape has transformed into something out of a painting. Every morning I wake up to crisp autumnal air and gaze in awe at the beautiful autumn colours during my drive to the office. On days where I carpool I relish in the fact that I am a passenger and lazily become entranced with my surroundings. I think moving back to my plain hometown is out of the question…

Work has also been keeping me busy, I feel like although I am still not a good teacher by any stretch of the imagination, I am starting to get the hang of things. Knowing what works, what doesn’t work and feeling more at ease in the classroom. The most fufilling part of my days at work are my interactions with my students outside of class. At ES the students are starting to know me more and more each time I visit, with the first graders physically grabbing me and pulling me to play oni-gokko, the third graders vicously defending me from ‘kamemushi’ and the sixth graders trying hard to teach me Japanese so paitently and kindly, I am always in disbelief that these kids are only 13 years old. JHS is also a joy, in a very different way. I still feel a little distance between myself and the students that I don’t have at ES, but naturally ages 13-15 probably don’t want to be hanging round with a teacher 24/7. But even three months in, the conversations are still always so inquisitive and ‘eeeeee niju-ichi sai?! Usoooo!!!!! Sophie-sensei wa oneeesaaann!!!’ Or my favourite ‘Come on Baby America!’ to which I reply: ‘NO! Igirisu-jin, no America!’

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Homesickness

So far, I haven’t felt an aching pain that I need to be back in the UK. However, as I highlighted in the opening of this blog post, it is my home and I do indeed miss it. Everyday as Christmas approaches, my Facebook memories and messages remind me of my favourite times back home during this season with my treasured friends and family. I asked my Dad how he was doing yesterday, he replied back that he was on a bus on Oxford Street, looking at the Christmas displays of the various stores that I would very much enjoy browsing at this time of year. I spoke with my sister, she spoke of last November where we would meet during my free time at university to enjoy the beautiful streets and go Christmas shopping in Cambridge. My dear friend Charlotte spoke to me also, all about our simple but lovely visits to Costa Coffee to talk deeply about our futures and confide and comfort each other. To me, those experiences and those people are irreplaceable.

However, I have been so fortunate to have such a wonderful circle of friends and family here in Japan. I work with some overly patient and generous people, and am able to pour my heart out to some trusted friends and go on many adventures week by week. I have forged wonderful bonds from as close by as my little village, to far away prefectures, British, Japanese, and other nationalities. Having such a culturally diverse social circle is a wonderful thing and there are people here who I know their presence will be treasured by myself for a long time <3

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What do you get up to nowadays?

When I’m not at work being super genki for ichinensei at ES or trying to make certain grammar points at JHS interesting, I tend to travel around Japan or enjoy life in Hiroshima. Since I have arrived, I believe I have only enjoyed three days at home watching TV…

This month for example I had the pleasure of running in the Hiroshima International Peace Marathon with my colleagues. We ran 5km, which without any training was certainly doable and I will be aiming for 10km with some training next year! It was such a fun experience and it was nice to try something new. Over the next couple of weeks I will be travelling again, this time to Naoshima in Kagawa prefecture and return to the Kansai region before winter begins to set in…

Since I have been living here for a while now and the initial excitement and buzz has wore off, lets just say my plans are far more spontaneous now, and who knows what awaits me in the coming weeks…

But thank you for being patient with me and reading my rambles, I hope to post again sometime again in the future… Sophie x

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Capturing one of my ‘I feel lucky’ moments, watching the sun set over the inland sea…  Hiroshima I love you <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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