Tonight, while riding my bike back home from a friend's house get together, I took a minute to stop and think (well I did not actually stop- I got lost but found my way back). I thought about how I would ever look back on my time spent living in Japan, when I decide to leave (I cannot even imagine when, even though it has to happen sooner or later). I concluded that, my time in Japan is...
... The most freedom I have had or will ever have in my life.
No one really knows where I am at any given time of the day or neither do I have to tell anyone, I can hop on a train to a different city or on my bike just whenever I feel like it, or eat cupcakes in my futon wearing underwear without anyone ever finding out about my weird habits. I can go wherever I want, whenever I want, and stay up at odd hours of the night.
... The loneliest time I have ever had.
Before I came to Japan, my friends warned me it would get lonely and isolated. And it's worse than I could ever had imagined. Living alone in a rural area or in a big city is one thing, but doing this while living in a country where you cannot fully understand or read the language is another thing. Even if I keep my social calendar quite full, there are certain moments that just make me feel so isolated regardless. When I get sick or coming home late at night, it is a bit scary. I hope to never feel this lonely again in my life ever, it can get pretty exhausting.
... The time when I met the most amazing people.
The friends I met along the way in Japan (or in Korea, for that matter), turned out to be the most unexpected, but also most beautiful friendships I have ever had. Walking in the staff room on my first day of work, or running into fellow foreigners at the train station, or casually exchanging emails through this blog- little did I know that those people would become my dearest friends, my family, my support system, and I'd create lifelong friendships with them. Being abroad at the same time brings people so much closer.
...The healthiest time of my life.
I am physically healthy and active, I run quite a bit, I ride my bike everywhere, I eat healthy, balanced meals, and live on water and green tea. It's also the thinnest I have ever been (in a healthy way), and I don't feel like I have to try hard to maintain my weight.
... But also the unhealthiest time of my life.
For other reasons. Being so isolated and lonely tends to drive me completely out of my mind in difficult times, and the fact that I look different and do not belong sometimes give me a distorted view of myself and my self-esteem. Tears and meltdowns are also a familiar aspect of living abroad, and not having my family or longtime friends around is sometimes unsettling.
...The most independent time of my life.
Living on my own. Cooking for myself. Doing everything on my own, such as securing an apartment, buying furniture, moving across the world, changing jobs, making appointments... all in a language I can barely speak. It's so challenging, but it's the best part of the adventure. I also love being on my own abroad, even if it gets lonely, as opposed to sharing this adventure with a significant other. This way I feel like I can fully experience my time in Japan, meet tons of new people, and participate in so many events, which I would maybe miss out on otherwise.
... The most unstable time of my life.
Which can be a good and a bad thing. Sometimes I wish I was more settled, especially in one place, but I do like the restlessness, and being able to go wherever I want next and be completely, utterly selfish- when will I ever be this way again in my life? Lately I'm faced with so many decisions which is scary, but I like being able to make my own decisions and having options, whether they are terrifying or not.
... The most beautiful time of my life.
In Japan I have seen extremely wonderful sights that I'll remember forever, and experienced cultural things that can only happen once in a lifetime. It's the most exciting, most beautiful time of my life and I am fully aware of that, and this makes it impossible to leave.
I appreciate every moment here, and sometimes a 2:00 am bike ride is the best way to remind myself how happy I am here.