Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Middle Space

When people talk about traveling, the topic of culture shock invariably comes up. Japanese people loved to ask me what surprised me the most about Japan, people back home wanted to know all about the weirdest food/fashion/vending machines/anime and my fellow foreigners loved bonding over our shared experiences of bewilderment and frustration. My post about life as a gaijin was partially about culture shock. 

Mm, nothing sounds better as a light snack than dried, whole fish.
But there is something even more bewildering and disconcerting that you very rarely hear about: reverse culture shock. It happens to people who spend a long period of time in another culture, experiencing all those jarring moments of regular culture shock and slowly becoming accustomed to them. Eventually, you become so used to your new culture that your native culture starts feeling foreign to you.

For me, it always starts at Narita as I'm waiting to board the plane home with all the other American ex-pats and tourists.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Travel Photos

I've been a very lazy blogger recently, but you can check out some of my travels and day trips via my Picasa albums. Here are some of the highlights:

Farewell Tour: Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo and Yokohama




Friday, May 10, 2013

Japan Farewell Tour

Before leaving Japan, there were a few places I had to go visit and a lot of people I wanted to see one more time. As soon as I finished work at my kindergarten in Tokyo, I caught the bullet train up to Sendai to start my "Farewell Tour" around Japan. 

I spent about a week in Sendai visiting my favorite places there, like Matsushima, and catching up with old friends. A number of us had decided to leave that March and return to our home countries, including my girlfriend and two of our friends who joined me on my farewell tour. The first stop on our trip was Osaka.

Osaka has always been one of my favorite cities in Japan. There is just something really vibrant and fun about it that makes it stand out. The people are famous for being much friendlier and more outgoing than people in other parts of Japan. Plus, Osaka has awesome food, like my favorite okonomiyaki and takoyaki restaurant, Tako Tako King. While we were in Osaka, we went to see a performance of The Count of Monte Cristo by Takarazuka, an all female musical revue. The show was so much fun, and the costumes were as sparkly as ever. We also visited Osaka-jo, the castle in the middle of Osaka city.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A small change of plans...

In my last post, which I realize was ages ago (oops!), I listed some of my goals for this year. Top among them was going to work in an international school in Europe. But for several reasons, I have decided to push that back a couple years and visit some other places first. So I'm happy to announce that I've accepted a new teaching position in Santiago, the capital city of Chile, and will be moving there at the end of June!

Santiago, my new home for the next year! Photo found here
I'm really excited about going to Chile. Latin America has been high up on my travel list for awhile, especially after my good friend Teal visited it and made me jealous with all her awesome travel photos. You can check out her photos and stories at her blog.

My main reasons for choosing to move to Chile were to pick up a new language and to see a new part of the world. I feel like learning Spanish and experiencing a new, completely different culture will help to make me more well-rounded as an individual and a better candidate for a teaching position with an international school. Also, I love hiking and outdoor sports, and Chile has got some absolutely stunning mountains- not to mention deserts, beaches and glaciers. I can't wait to go on some more backpacking adventures down there!