Ever wondered how your life would turn out had you not took that one brave step to conquer your dreams? That thought crosses my mind everyday while on a train packed of people on my way to work.
My life in Japan is like a jigsaw puzzle. Everyday, you try to find the missing piece that would make your puzzle complete.
Today marks my husband and I's 11th month in Japan. We came to Japan leaving everything behind and gambled for our future. Promising careers, pets, family, friends and even sold majority of our assets. We started thinking about this move wayback 2013 and finally had the courage to materialize everything in October of 2015. We did tons of research and paperworks for our school and visa application. We resigned from our jobs February of 2016 and prepared for the big move. Our families had our back but friends had second thoughts on our decision. They were not positive that leaving all behind to start a new life in Japan is worth it. We were half nervous and half excited at the same time. We were elated to the thought that we are going to live in Japan and would be soon calling ourselves as Tokyoites.
Looking back, I sometimes think that they were right. After experiencing the life I once thought we want and need.
My husband and I came to Japan as students. We had a solid vision and plan ahead of us. Study, find a job that can pay our dues and can support our daily living comfortably. We were ready for a few roadblocks and setbacks because we know it's not going to be easy and that we need to work hard for what we planned. But we did not imagine that living here can get really tough.
Our funds started to deplete and we know that we need to find a job fast to make ends meet. There were lots of job openings but 95% of them would require you to speak Japanese on a business level. Which that time is impossible for us. We ended up doing arubaitos left and right. From distributing flyers to wiping tables, cleaning after someones left overs and cleaning hotel rooms and toilets.
It was hard. We never imagined we would do those things that we never experienced doing back home. Nobody knew back home that we did those types of job because we don't want them to pity us. We tried our best to protect our pride at least. We were rather emotionally and mentally tired than physically tired.
But like what other people would always say, nothing is permanent. I don't believe in the saying just go with the flow because only dead fish would do that. I'd rather swim against the current and fight hard to survive.
I luckily found a decent part time job as a visa submission officer for one of the embassies in Tokyo. After 3 months, one of the full time employees resigned and they offered me the post. I did not even think twice and immediately answered yes as it will make our lives change.
Things started to get better for us. We could now afford to dine out on weekends, go to the mall and explore places. Living in Tokyo is no different with other cities. Only that it's routinary. You get up in the morning, get ready, go to work, go out for a drink after work with colleagues sometimes (this is obligatory in Japan culture) then go home, go to bed and get ready for the next day.
I know it has only been 11 months since we moved here but it felt like years for us. There are a lot of pros and cons but it would still depend on how you look at it. People here can be cold but if you get to know them, you would know the answer yourself.
Japanese people tend to keep everything to themselves because they do not want to be a nuisance to others even to their own families. It is not normal here to open up their private lives and they are not comfortable being asked about it too. They have a high respect for privacy. They could come across as snob and discriminatory but they are not. They just mind their own business and be on their way. I learned about it by observing them and from a Japanese colleague. She is the unconventional type of Japanese. She isn't the shy type and has a cowboy personality.
She said that she's happy not to work for a Japanese company where abuse of power is rampant and overwork is an understatement.
I wish to inspire and enlighten co expats who read this that everything is going to get better. That we might not get what we planned at first but through hard work and determination, a bright future will unfold.
Everyday is a journey. Dreams are meant to be lived. Just hold on and think Japan as a home away from home. :)