Recently, I've received some questions asking about how I dealt with what people thought before I moved to Tokyo, or how it was to leave close people behind, or how I adjusted to life here. Those aren't really easy questions to answer in a few words or even sentences. Maybe it's not possible to clearly explain at this point. But what I definitely felt, in the months before my departure from California to Tokyo, was this overwhelmingly strong sense, perhaps intuition, telling me that I was going to find something at my destination. It was simply where I needed to go then. There was no specified time period, nor sharply concrete goal. It's just where my path lead me to.
I'd like to chat just a bit about adjustment, then.
As an American in Tokyo, and arriving right away into an English teaching job, I was forced to get accustomed and fit myself in to the ticking clockwork schedule of Tokyo workers and students. Yet at the same time, of course I didn't melt in quite completely, because the cultures, perspectives, and ways of thinking between Japan and the US are just so different. I found it hard to get used to the Japanese-style stooping bathrooms at schools I taught in. I first found the huge and complicated train stations - Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya - mindblowingly difficult to navigate. Within a month or two, I was finding my way around quite easily. (Having to navigate different stations every single day due to my work.) At first I wasn't quite sure what to talk about with Japanese students who had never been overseas, spoke limited English, and seemed quite shy. After a while, I began to learn how to adapt different ways of communication with different personalities of students.
In those kind of senses, I would recommend an English teaching job in Japan as a way for foreigners to get to know what life is like in this country. You may also get a flexible or non-typical (aka non-office worker) type of schedule depending on the company, and this would leave you time to explore your surroundings. Just take time to walk around, experience the naturally quiet spots as well as the bustling centers of Tokyo.
As a foreigner coming to live and work in Tokyo for the first time, you will probably feel lost at times. Looking around in the train station, you might feel like everyone is walking so quickly and with such purpose, knowing exactly where they are going. But don't worry. In Tokyo, people sort of just appear this way... and you might even find yourself joining in on the walk. But it's okay to be lost. You are definitely not alone.
It helps to come across a purpose, a hobby, or just something you enjoy other than work. Taking pictures, playing music, doing sports, meeting up with new people and practicing your language skills. This city is so huge, you have to carve out your own space and not be afraid to grasp for the things you want.
If you guys have any other questions about what it's like to live in Tokyo, feel free to let me know in the comments or via email!
I may address your question in an upcoming post :)