…and what have you learned? – A Japanese Year in Review

Fushimi-InariJust about everyone… and their brother, and their cousin and their cousin’s lawyer do year end posts. The arbitrary changing of the year based on the Roman calendar encourages us humans to look backwards over the past year and look forward into the next one. You will read many top ten lists of things from the last year. Likely, you will see even more “resolutions” for 2014.

I guess I am no different. 2013 was a life changing year for me. I moved to a foreign country. That is a lot. I guess I could stop there with the reflection. But… blogging… so, nope.

My reflections for 2013 centered around some things that I have learned since moving to a foreign country.

Check out Shana’s 2013 reflections here.

I’ve learned…

to gesture more effectively. I don’t speak Japanese and I live in Japan, Is that gesture, “crippling frustration” OR “delicious sushi…?” Sometimes I have to get by with pointing and gestures. Japanese people are also very patient. This is helpful.

Mabodofuhow to say “I’m sorry,” and “excuse me” in 7 languages; including Japanese, Greek, English, German, French, Spanish, and Thai.

that I can indeed ride my bike in a driving rainstorm. It’s just not very pleasant. By not very pleasant, I mean unpleasant. Other unpleasant things include: strong wind, intense heat, sleet, snow, freezing temperatures, and direct sunlight.

how to cook mabodofu. A Chinese dish that is staple of many households in Japan since it is incredibly easy to cook and is extremely filling. I can make it all in one pot. It has meat in it. It’s spicy. Suki desu!

sweaty shirt

sweaty shirt

that it’s so humid during rainy season, no matter how much rain gear I wear I will still get soaked. The choice is between being drenched in sweat or dripping with rain water.

how to play babanuki and karuta. Two children’s card games that require very little speaking and come in very handy in class.

that I am a way less picky eater than I thought I was. Every day school lunch is a complete surprise. For that matter sometimes just going to the grocery store can result in unintended ingestion. One of my favorite snacks here in Japan is o-nigiri because I usually don’t know what’s inside until after I bite into it. SURPRISE! Fish Eggs!

how to properly express disbelief in Japanese. This is important because often times students will say absolutely unbelievable things to me and simply expressing disbelief in English isn’t good enough. Try it out on someone you know!

that it is possible to continue living even if I don’t see 100% of every football game. I was shocked to find this out. I still am not 100% convinced that it’s even possible. I might have to wait and see what happens with hockey season.

how to appreciate nihon-shu. Japanese sake is delicious, this was an easy lesson. Also beer is stupid expensive in Japan.

that Japan is really green, like the color. Seriously. BRIGHT Green. It looks like the pacific northwest but with skinnier trees.green japan

how to sing a harmony. Watch out CSN+Y. Shana and I are coming for you. Shana has diligently been taking my awful singing voice and making it some what less offensive. We don’t have a TV so we fill some of our evenings by annoying our neighbors with acoustic renditions of Alt Rock hits from the late nineties like Shine, by Collective Soul, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Deep Blue Something and Wonder Wall, by Oasis.

that I like yuru kyara. Japanese mascots are great. No really. They are fascinating.

how to be more polite. I am sure that I wasn’t particularly rude when I lived in America but now I am so conscious of being rude to people that I have become overly polite.

I only laughed a little bit when I first saw this, SUPER POLITE.

I only laughed a little bit when I first saw this, SUPER POLITE.

Finally I learned…

that I want to keep traveling. Treating my wanderlust with a heavy dose of Japan has made me fall in love all over again with adventure. I plan on seeing as much of Japan as possible and then we’ll see where the next adventure takes us… India? Southeast Asian Archipelago? Scandanavia? Alaska? Traveling makes me excited to simply be alive.

One comment on “…and what have you learned? – A Japanese Year in Review

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