Soooo, I moved to Japan….

[note: This post originally appeared on Oct. 26, 2014, in my other blog “Counting Down“.]

I took a chance, accepted the offer and now live in Japan!
I’m a week into my new life and have spent it navigating the required paperwork, figuring out how to get to and from work, learning how to drive on the opposite side of the road and looking for new digs.
One week in and i’ve figured out convenience store sushi: good; Japanese Fanta in cherry: bad.
I have not yet had the time to fully submerge into Japanese culture, but so far I have had some amazing food and tried a bunch of different fish and snack foods with food wrappers that I did not understand. I LOVE IT!

I came here for the job, of course. This is a great opportunity to diversify my resume and add a new experience professionally. On top of that, though, I came here to challenge myself. I saw a path I could have continued on in Iowa, but I didn’t want that. Nor will I ever. I knew my time in Iowa was over long before this job offer came along.
This is an opportunity to grow as a professional and as a human being!
I’ve met some great people so far. Most of them are co-workers, but if they’re anything like my amazing co-workers in Iowa, (which they are), I know I’ll be pretty happy in my new newsroom.
I am very stoked to continue to work in an industry I love, doing a job I love and now in a place where I will learn more about myself and about another culture.

I am desperate to learn the language and explore. My first week here has been about getting all of the proper documents in order that will allow for that to happen. The Japanese people that I have encountered have been both gracious and patient with me in spite of the language barrier. Not knowing Japanese makes things rather difficult, but I am happy to report that I have not been without food, shelter or help with getting to where I’m going.

It’s pretty humbling to see the way other cultures handle migrant workers in their country in comparison to how we treat migrant workers in America. Bureaucratically, it may be a difficult thing to become a Japanese citizen, but no one has been rude because I can’t speak nor read the language. And as far as I know, no one has told me to go back to my country. 🙂

I do feel at home here, though. The area where I live reminds me a lot of Cd. Juarez in the architecture and traffic but of course instead of road signs and billboards being in Spanish, they are covered in Japanese characters that I don’t understand. Oh yeah and also, the streets are very clean as I was forewarned.
It should be quite interesting to check out the area where I’ll be living once I get a pair of wheels. I can’t wait.

A few brief notes and observations I’ve made:
– In Japan, it is rude to hand your money to the cashier. Instead they put out a little tray, similar to the one the waiter uses for check in America, for you to put your bills and coins in. I’m told it has something to do with cleanliness. Peculiar thing is that they hand the change back to you (and not in the little tray).
-Coca-Cola tastes the same as it does in the U.S. just in case anyone was wondering.
-There is NO CHIPOTLE IN JAPAN. BUT, there are other American restaurants in case I ever get a hankering. I had McD’s one night when my friends and I were starving and it was the only thing open near the train station. Fries were the same, the cheeseburger tasted a little different but I think it was the mustard that caused that.
– You can buy Sake and beer at vending machines.
– Vending machines are EVERYWHERE! That is not a complaint; I love being able to turn a corner and get a coffee drink/beer/juice/soda/or water whenever I want.
-I have not had one bad piece of sushi AND I HAD SUSHI FROM 7-11 HERE!
-The public transportation system is as reliable as you may have heard, which for an chronically-late like myself is a curse. Hoping this will help cure me of it once and for all.
-Some produce is expensive here. like REALLY expensive. like, I bought jalapeños at $13 US Dollars PER POUND EXPENSIVE! (worth it).

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