Hello Blog. Tonight I felt compelled to stray from my usual topics of K-pop and J-dramas to bring you an exclusive look into the personal life of this crazy blogger that I am.
Perhaps you thought that all I ever do is dream about going to Japan (which is true) but in 2 days from now, August 29th, I’ll be leaving my quaint, but overwhelmingly dull and restrictive small-town in America to head to about 4 different airports over the course of 4 days. On August 30th, I’ll be boarding my 12-hour flight headed straight one way across the Pacific, my destination? Osaka, Japan.
I’ve been dreaming about this trip for years; the day that I, the silly fangirl of Japan, may actually set foot on that magical island. And now, it will at last be a reality.
I’m only 17 years old, but in about 3 days, I will have officially visited 3 continents. And all just this summer.
Though I am young, I am more mature than the expectations of my friends and family. For years, all they have seen was this crazy little fangirl, the girl who had a map of Japan hanging over her bed, and an obsessive collection of Japanese newpapers, candy, and wall decorations slung across the small confines of her room. A girl who, rather than hanging out with friends at lunch, would sit alone in the cafeteria, scribbling Japanese into a notebook, and muttering to herself “watashi wa…” as she cared more for studying than actual socializing. They’ve seen the silly girl who only listened to “foreign” music, and screamed at the computer screen during a particularly intense scene in her asian drama. The girl who would practice Para Para in her basement, or sing along to Anime theme songs. The girl who walked around her house, constantly narrating her life in Japanese (much to the annoyance of her little brother). The girl who cried even in her classes at school for days on end after the tsunami hit Japan. The girl who never stopped studying, who never even got an A- in school, all because of her immense desire. The girl who’s dedication to this foriegn place seemed greater than any passion any of them had felt in their lives.
I’m that girl.
Yet, the girl who is going to Japan on Monday is not that absent-minded, dreamy fangirl she’s been for years. Rather, she is an adult. Something she has never been before. Something that will scare her as much as it will excite her.
Buying tickets, talking to shop keepers, navigating the streets of Osaka, trains, buses, conversation. All of it, up to this young adult in a few days.
I have taken a leave of absence from school, and will make-up the month’s worth of work via emails on my new laptop. Meanwhile, my mother and I will be staying with our new host family in Nara, Japan, working in a homeschool, teaching English to elementary students, translating the town flier, and playing with toddlers at the daycare. For free.
Sounds too good to be true? Well it’s not. I returned from Ireland recently, where we also went on a work exchange. “Work Exchange” is a fancy way of saying, you can stay for free room, board, and meals, in exchange for your “work” (though I don’t think playing with Japanese toddlers is very difficult labor). In Ireland, for instance, my mom and I (she and I are a work team) merely painted an Irish woman’s house and helped her decorate. In exchange we had two heavenly weeks in the southwest of Ireland, with all the juicy, exciting adventures you could possibly imagine.
And now, it’s Japan. Real Japan. In the flesh and blood. In the soil and water. REAL. Not a fabricated ideal in my fangirl mind, but an actual place, which is now in my grasp. In my power.
I wonder how I got so lucky. How I got a Dad who worked in the airline business so long that our entire family has FREE flight to anywhere in the world. How I stumbled across this magical work exchange program. How I had the patience and, I suppose, intelligence, to learn the frustrating Japanese language. How I ever discovered Japanese Pop Culture in the first place. How I managed to recruit the teachers and principals of the school to back me up and allow me to miss school to go to Japan. How I did all of this at seventeen.
How? I really couldn’t say. Mama? My mom did alot of it. Thank you Mama.
My advice to anyone who desires a far-away thing, whether it be a job, a place, or a person, is just to TRY. I mean, if you want it as bad as you think you do, then just do it, damnit! Stop saying you don’t have the potential, you don’t have the smarts, the looks, the ability. ANYBODY can do what they want. It’s the oldest speech in the book, but it’s true.
I wanted something, Japan, and so I worked hard. I worked so hard in school, so hard at home, that I guess, in a weird way, everything just fell into my lap like “Hey, look, here’s your dream, thanks for your hard work”. I’m only seventeen, but I’ve already done things many people will never do in their lives.
Thought all I did was sit on my laptop and watch dramas all day? Think again 😉
I’ll write when I get to Japan. But…for now? Sayounara. Oyasuminasai!