You’ll have to excuse the cheesy title. My boyfriend made fun of me a while ago for never having heard the phrase “have your cake and eat it too,” so I felt compelled to use it. At the same time, I felt like it really fit the topic of this post. I wanted to take a moment to remind you that it is possible to travel and have a normal life.
Category: Inspiration and Lessons Learned
This category contains posts about the lessons I’ve learned while traveling as well as posts about things that have inspired me to travel.
I am convinced that a majority of hatred and stereotypes that exist in the world today at least partially originated from a bad first impression. Being aware of what kind of impressions people might be making of us is always something to be mindful of, but it is even more important for travelers. You could affect a person’s opinion of an entire race, ethnicity, religion, place, and more. You are a representative of who you are and everything you stand for.
I don’t know about you, but I hate working out. On more than one occasion I’ve decided that I was going to get in shape, but it never lasted long. For whatever reason, I don’t get that “satisfied” or “fulfilled” feeling that a lot of people seem to get when they finish at the gym. I just walk away feeling exhausted and question why I went to the gym in the first place. Thankfully, you don’t need to go to the gym to get physically fit. You just have to start traveling!
One of the things that has truly allowed me to succeed in life is my ability to listen to other people’s advice (and their mistakes) and then plan my own actions accordingly. For most people, that is a great trait, and most days I am grateful that I am able to do so. However, I also found that my need to plan everything in order to get the most desirable outcome can possibly have the opposite effect. I could actually end up limiting myself. Travel made me realize that.
If you are not Japanese, you will never be Japanese. This may seem like such an obvious statement. Duh, of course if I’m not born Japanese, I won’t magically become Japanese. To most people, that’s not a big deal. However, it is a fact you have to learn to accept if you intend to live in Japan, because it will come up again and again even after you’ve lived there for 20 years. You can walk like a duck, quack like a duck, but you still won’t be a duck. Sorry.
The day I left my dorm, I said goodbye to many of my friends, and spent a good part of the train ride in tears. However, I was on my way to Chiba with one of my friends, so I had that to hold onto. I spent the day with his family as he showed me around his hometown, and he and his family took me to the airport when it was finally time to board my plane.
Back at my home university in my Japanese classes, we learned about the word “chikan”, which refers to public, unwanted molestation. In general, it’s often used to refer to perverted Japanese men. I’d heard stories about Japan having problems with men that would grope women, usually while on trains. Yet, it was never anything I took seriously, because I’d also heard that these types of men usually avoided foreigners. Foreigners usually weren’t afraid to retaliate, while Japanese women, especially the girls, were less likely to speak up. Since arriving in Japan I’ve seen some women only trains, but other than that, I hadn’t thought much about it.
On Saturday I went to the Ueno Zoo, which is the biggest zoo in Japan. They had all sorts of exhibits and the entrance fee was pretty cheap. Today I was supposed to go adventuring, but unfortunately there is a 100% chance of rain pretty much all day. That’s one of the joys of rainy season here in Japan. I look at my weather forecast for the week, and it’s pretty much entirely rain.
The whole process for this trip has been an emotional roller coaster. These last few days in particular have had their ups and downs. Saying goodbye to my mom and boyfriend in a few hours is probably going to be one of the hardest parts of this entire trip. This will be the first time I’ll be away from home for an extended period of time.