I have been here for almost 8 weeks. The experience so far has been amazing. I live in the middle of a city. Arguably one of the most amazing cities in the world. I am 28 and I left the life I knew to create a new one. I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I knew that I was walking I to one of toughest transitions I could put myself in but the adventure outweighed the negatives. I moved here, found my apartment, and started on the roller coaster. I have learned how to order food, I have had some of the best noodles I have ever had, met some pretty amazing people, and learned how to live more simply. I have also learned that moving an ocean away has it's major difficulties. I can't just pick up the phone and call my friends. I can't DVR Dr. Phil and watch it when I get home for work. Finding things at the grocery store is nearly impossible unless you want to spend three times as much for it to be in English or an import. But let me tell you the hardest part:
Nothing is easy here.
For instance, getting on the train seems simple. Then you have to know what platform you have to be on, what exit you need to take, and what you are looking for once you get off that train. It's moments when you are hopelessly lost and realize you have no way of knowing where you are...those are the times where you wish things could just, this once, be easy.
It's easy to become isolated here. For the past couple of weeks my life has consisted of a 6 block radius. I have spent less than $20 on public transportation and I have spent the majority of my time at my house or at work. I have not explored or had the confidence to explore. I have felt uninspired and melancholy. I was tired of getting lost, annoyed about not being to be able to ask for directions, and generally lonely. A new job, new home, new language... tire a girl out making it hard to be extroverted and up for making new friends, and impossible to find the energy to try and be independent.
Today, that all changed. I was invited to an event at another international school where I had made friends at. I wasn't going to go because I was tired of getting lost. But, armed with enough sleep, my iPhone and Google Maps I decided that I was going to embark on a mini adventure. I was going to go see them. I set out with enough money for a $50 cab ride and went on my way. I caught the bus, found the right train platform and made it to my destination. No stoping to ask for directions, no crying on the platform, just going the right way and getting on the right train.
I felt empowered.
Empowered that I could, indeed, get somewhere without anyone but myself. That I could navigate with the help of Google Maps, a good pair of walking shoes, and no pressure of getting anywhere on time or in a hurry, I made it. No tears, no hand gestures, no having to try and explain why I was leaving a station and I hadn't actually left. I just got there. Then I took a bus back.
Do you know how hard the bus system is here?
Hard. It's all in Japanese and I have yet to find a reliable map. I have to match every single kanji in order to make sure I am going to the right place. In general, I usually avoid the buses and try to stick with the metro. But today I felt empowered! So I took a bus and I made it. I made it home in one piece.
Empowerment over my surroundings is a great feeling. I feel like I am back in the honeymoon stage. I can do anything and Tokyo is at my finger tips.