Saying Sayonara to America

Recently, I overheard my grandmother on the phone catching up with an old friend. It was someone she hadn’t spoken to in a while because I heard my name come up. The person on the other end asked what I’ve been up to recently to which my grandmother responded:

“Oh, she travels. Yeah who knew that the ‘shy’ girl in high school, the one who always played it safe would one day travel the world on her own.”

Logically, it doesn’t make sense, does it? There’s a disconnect that leaves my family and friends baffled but amazed. I too am stunned. In retrospect, it was a bold move for a creature of comfort to travel solo to 20+ countries. I didn’t know what awaited outside America’s borders, but damn, I am so glad I went and found out.

Well, the “shy” girl is at it again. Plans have quietly been brewing. This September, I’m going to Japan…for good. Thanks to the help of my wonderful Japanese teacher, I’ll be moving to Nagasaki to teach English, enrolling in part-time Japanese language studies (plus you know, full immersion), and eventually will start doing translation work. Above all, I get to live in my favorite country/part of the world with easier access to the culinary kingdom that is S.E. Asia, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, etc. I’m looking forward to all the food, コンビニ (convenience stores), mountains, friends, sakura trees, bullet train rides, fall colors, and language learning opportunities that await on the other side.

As I sit back in my chair and take in a deep breath, I’m in awe. Ever since I visited Japan for the first time in 2012, I so badly wanted to find a way to live and work there. It took a few years, as is custom, but that dream has finally come to fruition. The gratitude and happiness that comes with accomplishing something I’ve worked and wished for for so long reduces me to tears. As over the moon as I am about all of this, I know it’s not going to be easy. In fact, I’m scared out of my mind, but that’s how I know I’m doing it right.

Wait for me, Japan. I’m on my way home.

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