Two Years. And a Travel Over the Pacific.

 

It’s been a little under two years since I decided to post anything on my blog, mainly because I’ve been trying to get my act together and because I knew I didn’t have many viewers in the first place. Last April, I was living in a relatively large apartment in Fargo, North Dakota with my older brothers and my mom no more than 15 minutes away.

About 5 1/2 months later I found myself here, in Hokkaido, Japan, living in a small one bedroom apartment with no bed (I mean, my futon is still pretty comfortable), no mirror (who really needs one anyway?), no internet (I use my school’s) and no cell phone/house phone. To be honest, I’m so much more happier here than I was when I had a well paying job, a cell phone, internet, a mildly large apartment and my family surrounding me.

But of course, there have been some challenges, some that have left me physically and emotionally drained, and others that have given me bursts of energy after their completion.

The biggest challenge is getting used to having a not-so-bilingual boyfriend. He understands quite a bit of English, but for the most part we only use Japanese to communicate and it certainly makes for some difficult situations when I can’t agree with what he’s saying or doing but I can’t explain why. (I’m getting better as time goes on, but let’s be honest, who honestly wants to be the person who says “No, that’s not how WE do it in America, so that’s wrong”?) I’ve grown quite a bit in the last half year, and I’m certain he has too, we’ve become much more accepting of each other’s cultural differences as well as the differences in our personalities. I’ve even managed to ween him off of only wanting to be a company employee like the vast majority of Japanese men, now he’s searching for his dream, and I’m willing to help, no matter where it may take him/us.

Another one of the challenges I’ve faced is becoming an adult. Just to be a cliche:

“Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”
-Harvey MacKay-

Becoming an adult is a really slow transition, one that I’m probably only about 1/10 of the way through. Becoming self-aware, something that I’ve been my entire life and yet haven’t been, is such a slow but rewarding process. I’ve begun to realize that just accepting I am who I am is okay, and there will always be people who will look at me once and wave me aside, but that’s just who they are too. It hurts, but there are certainly more painful things in life. I may not be a model, and I’m on my way towards better physical fitness, so that’s enough for me.

Another really agonizing thing that you realize living abroad; you don’t get to see your family whenever you want. There are things like Skype to make the lack of communication easier, but really? A virtual hug just isn’t the same as a real one. Sure I can get a hug from any number of friends, but a mom, dad, or brother hug will always win. No contest.

But I guess, as I wrote before, I’m still happiest here despite the struggles and lack of apartment space. My next big hurdle is deciding on where to go to college, and whether or not to do said studies in Japanese or English. *awkward laughter*

Thanks for reading. Comment on this post or private message me if you have any questions.

Kimono
Modeling for Traveling Agency in Kimonos

That’s a Thing!

Sapporo, Japan

It’s been such a long time since I did a blog, and I’m coming back with a better understanding of how to actually get my feelings across. I guess that WOULD happen considering I’m no longer doing this for my Composition class. Haha. I hope that any readers of my blog will find a more… How do you put it… Open-book-type feel as you read these newest posts.

So, onto the important things. I believe that I updated my blog with news on how I would be attending college in Japan and I finally have the details. I’m “uber” excited and cannot WAIT to hop on that plane heading for my what I consider to be my second home.

The place I’ve decided to attend is a language institute on the island of Hokkaido which is the northern-most region of Japan. My school’s name is JLI Sapporo, which I found using a site for students like myself who would like to learn Japanese in order to enter a Japanese university through slightly unorthodox means. I’ll be spending approximately two years at JLI, getting used to the mild temperature and what-not. After that I don’t know entirely WHICH college/university I’ll be going to, I just know that it’ll be in Japan. And it is a necessity for the school to have Korean as an option for study. That’s a total of 6 years in Japan. I thought it was pretty awesome.

But that’s not even the best part! I’ll be taking my buddy Thomas and my girl friend Serina with me as well. Serina has had about 4-years of Japanese, and Thomas… Well, let’s just say he’s a newbie. Still, I think he’ll be okay. At least for the Tokyo portion of the trip. Haha. We’ll be leaving in March, school starts in April. We’re all pretty pumped so hopefully nothing manages to ruin this for us. After all, it’s a once in-a-lifetime opportunity… Or so they say 😉

If you have any questions or any advice for myself or my friends, please feel free to contact me at any time. I really love talking with people 🙂 UNTIL NEXT TIME!!! またね。

Week Two: Kat and Reid

Twisting my birthday present in my hand, I ducked between students, trying my best keep myself on my feet. You’re invisible… This time of year it’d be a miracle if someone actually stopped to talk to a stranger like me; most of the kids around me were too caught up in conversations with friends they hadn’t seen for almost three months. Still, as more of a precaution, I attempted to refrain from eye contact. At least I had the distant comfort that Reid would be at my side in a heartbeat if I needed it.

Strangely enough, we’d always been this way. I’d always looked to him for comfort, support, and understanding. When we’d first met, he had treated me like I was something precious to be protected and I never quite understood why. Even now, he still seems to think I’m a fragile person who needs to stay behind him whenever something bad happens. He always takes the brunt of things for me, and I wish he could just live his life without me sometimes. But I’m selfish, so I can’t tell him to leave me. Because he’s important… He probably thinks I hate him…

“Kat, wait up.” Reid grabbed my arm and spun me around. I looked up at him, analyzing. Thick lashes circling beautiful, soft green eyes that constantly captivated me. High cheekbones and a firm mouth which gave him the appearance of being grumpy. He ran his hand through his shaggy black hair, revealing an all too familiar scar on his left cheek. I pursed my lips, I shouldn’t be watching him right now. It’ll make him uncomfortable.

“We have the same first class, right? Let’s go together.” he grinned. I just nodded and allowed him to lead me to our Humanities class. “How’d you like the present?” he seemed to choke on his words, as if he was embarrassed or something.

“Haven’t opened it yet.” my voice was small, nearly lost in the overly crowded halls, but I knew he’d heard me. He always did.

As we trekked through the thick forest of students, Reid paving me a path between them, I began to wonder just what in the world he saw in me. What made this friendship so special to him? He had the looks, intelligence, and personality to be something more than… Well, THIS. It made me kind of sad to see all of that potential wasted. I needed to find ways to thank him for everything he’s done. Somehow… There had to be a way…

“Reid?” I grabbed his hand and pulled him to the side of the hall. He looked down at me cautiously, evaluating my current state. “I know I already said this, but thank you.” I kissed his cheek, and quickly looked away. He’d probably think I was some kind of freak now, but I didn’t care. I hardly ever spoke or did what I truly wanted, I was tired of it. This time around I was going to do my best to express my feelings and get him to understand better. So maybe he won’t feel the need to protect me all the time.

When I looked back up at Reid, I jumped. His face was slightly flushed and he appeared horrified. Somehow, a single kiss had rendered him speechless and thrown him completely of kilter.

I clenched my jaw, feeling horrible, and booked it as fast as I could away from the boy I had called my friend.

Week One: Kat and Reid

She looked kind, yet she was anything but. Her heart had been closed off for years, an impenetrable shell so thick even our lifelong friendship was unable to make the slightest crack.

How long had it been since she had actually laughed? Not the fake giggle she produced in front of her younger siblings for their sake. Really, how long had it been since she’d actually had fun? I couldn’t remember a single moment in the years I’d known her, always keeping that quiet composure.

It was too long. Yet no matter how much I tried, I could never pass her defenses. I really was a sorry excuse for a “friend”.

“Katrina…” I looked over, catching a quick glimpse of her face full of concentration, “You’ll need to be more careful in this school. There’s quite a few more people here than you’re used to.” she watched me quietly with her permi-sad violet eyes. Her black hair cascading around her small, pale face. “There’ll probably be more girls like Savanna here who don’t care about anything but themselves.” she tipped her head in acknowledgement and unbuckled her seat belt. When I didn’t say anything more she got out of the car and started toward her new life.

I sighed, knowing she would be waiting for me at the top of the stairs despite how independent she acted. You’re so weird. Always making me worry.

Trying not to think of all the horrible things that could happen on the first day I managed to force myself out of the car and take a breath of crisp, fall air. “Well, here goes nothing I guess.” This time I’ll protect you for sure, I silently promised, making my way over to Katrina. My cell phone beeped, a reminder that I had yet to giver her her birthday present.

Smiling, I pulled out a small box from my backpack, “Kat! Catch!” I tossed it into the air, watching it land safely in her tiny fingers, “Happy birthday.” Naturally, I didn’t expect any sort of reply, it was the same every year after all. When I’d reached her she just looked up at me intensely.

As I turned to head inside I heard it.

“Reid.” the high, melodic soprano made me freeze.

I nearly stumbled over my own feet trying to face her, “Yeah?” my eyes were wide as I stared down at the girl before me. It was so rare for her to speak that I had no idea how to react aside from being shocked. Almost like each word she spoke was painful.

“Thank you.”

I held my breath, stuck in a mild stupor, as she disappeared into the crowd of students.

Finally.

At Long Last!

Recently, I’ve started up my search for colleges/universities once again. At first I was looking mainly for those really nice Ivy League schools which would have me hopping straight into my career. Then I took a nice long look at the tuition and expenses and nearly peed. That was too much for one girl to afford fresh out of High School. So I decided to look more at colleges… And that went nowhere.

It was around last month that one of my best friends, Thomas, called me and asked what in the world I was doing after graduation. I told him my initial plans of either joining the military or perhaps just hopping on the college train. Neither of which honestly seemed to be working for me. He offered me a solution. Go abroad, like we had planned nearly two years ago. (Which I’d mentioned in a previous post.) I began, yet again, searching for colleges/universities abroad. “Another tedious task”, or at least that’s what I’d thought.

This time I was actually interested, the prospect of going abroad for the next four years of my life had me flying through college after college, searching high and low for a school that would fit my language needs as well as my “night life” wishes. And I finally found it. The ONE. Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Oita, Japan (near Fukuoka). I’ve changed my mind so many times this last year, probably because of the stresses of being a senior, but I honestly feel that this is my future. I have everything planned out and can’t wait to begin my journey along my path to language proficiency.

Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

The percentage of foreign students who attend Ritsu is over half providing really great opportunities to immerse yourself in more than just one culture while on Campus. For your first year you live in dorms provided by the school, after that they help you find your own apartment or some other place to live. (i.e. Share house, host family, etc.) You’re given the opportunity your first year to discover Japan through a program called F.I.R.S.T., and many more exchange programs are offered for students who attend Ritsu. I personally plan taking advantage of a year long exchange to Korea in my Junior year if I’m accepted.

My plan is to apply by June of this year and depart April, 2015. It’s a scary feeling for a high school senior to think they’ll be so far away from home for the next four years, but I most certainly prefer this over attending an Ivy League school or any other college/university in the States.

Japan, here I come!

From Tundra to Paradise

We all kind of wonder where in the world we’ll end up as kids. Sometimes we dream of a castle and knights in shining armor, our prince charming, other times we think of our bedroom and believe we could stay in that house forever. There are few who, as children, look to the world around them thinking they want a change of scenery. But as time progresses, most of us decide we DO want a change of scenery. We move, from one place to another trying to find where we feel most comfortable. Even fewer truly find that place and instead adapt to their surroundings, learning to love what they have even if it isn’t exactly what they’d planned on having.

I also wonder sometimes where I’ll end up in the vast majority of the world, especially after college. My four years in Japan, and my plans to travel to Korea, Italy as well as Germany in that time, I could end up almost anywhere. It’s kind of scary to think of the people I’ll leave behind, the people I won’t see for years at a time. I’ll miss so much, just as those before me have. My parents went through the separation of their friends and family, their parents before them. Every human seems to have to give up something precious to them in order to gain something even more precious. It’s a hard process. But the actual thought of not being able to see my brothers whenever I want makes me feel the loneliness of being the only person on the planet.

Even so, I want to travel the world and find my home. So where will I go? Like I said, I honestly don’t know. However, I have plans to end up in a rural town somewhere in either Asia or Europe, in a small community where everyone knows each other and I don’t have to worry about suppression for my own ideals. I have hopes for mountain ranges, beautiful fields and vast rivers that children spend their free time swimming in enjoying the sun. But I also want winter. As a child of The Frozen Tundras of America, I kind of have this undeniable urge to stay amongst my element (which just so happens to be frost and snow).

I’m curious, which of you will end up moving outside of your element? Which of you are willing to part ways with those you’ve grown up with in order to find your place? I assume there will be few, but I still hope everyone can still manage happiness.

Decisions

As a high school senior with only seven months left of school, it’s stressful to imagine the next four years of my life being stuck in a dorm, constantly studying for college tests. I personally believe that’s enough to make anyone want to just curl up in a ball and sleep those years away. But of course, that’s not possible, so we have to find ways to spice up the nearly gray future.

So, what do we do? We decide. Where do we want to go? How long? What do we want to study? All of these magnificent ideas that we’ve been locking away for the last 18 years are finally getting the chance to roam free, and they’re taking us–

To Tokyo.

Tokyo, Japan at night.

And yet, another journey begins. As I apply for a visa, discover possible colleges to attend as well as how I will pay for them, stare at photos to keep me excited, and hide under my covers when I feel overwhelmed. It’s scary and daunting. Those ten months away from home are nothing compared to an entire four years, possibly six if I go with a Master’s. Still, I continued to search.

Of course, after only two weeks of searching, I find TUJ (Temple University Japan). It’s everything I’ve been looking for and more. And just as I apply, happy with my decision…

I get an e-mail for the military saying they have an opening as a linguist. My recruiter knows how much I love languages, and this opportunity is almost enough for me to just throw away those four years of college abroad. I could still pursue my chosen career, but the problem would be I wouldn’t have a choice which language I’d learn. And I’m not sure I’m willing to do that. But the prospect of having two paths has me doubling over, hiding even more, and sleeping less. I have less than two weeks to decide if I want the job, and I have five months to decide if I want to go to TUJ. Neither is enough. It will never be enough.

Now I’m sitting down and writing about all of my confusion on my blog, wishing I hadn’t been contacted in the first place, and at the same time, wishing I’d never found TUJ either. I have two choices, both of them hold bright futures, but I have a decision to make. And I know I’ll regret it no matter what I choose.