It is now confirmed that I will be moving to Japan this May. A few folk have asked me how I’m feeling about that, and having had a week for the truth of my departure to sink in I have an answer.
(In case you’re new to this blog, a quick update: I’m heading out to Japan for my first 4-year term with OMF International. I’m going to Sapporo – in the far North – for the first 8 months. After that is still to be decided. I’ve previously spent a year in Sendai, and a couple of months in Sapporo, so Japan is not totally new to me, but it is my first time going out proper long-term.)
So, how am I feeling?
This is the main emotion I’m feeling. Good thing really.
I’m mainly excited at the idea of staying there for a long time. When I first went to Japan it was for only 1 year and that meant that I had to return to the UK just as I was getting used to live in Japan. 4 years will be long enough for me to get stuck into the community, to make friends… to make Japan my home.
I’m then generally excited about Japanese food, onsen, catching up with old friends, canned coffee, etc.
I’m also excited (and this is a bit geeky) at the prospect of full-time Japanese language study. I’ve been learning Japanese for something like 6 years now, but always fitting it in around other stuff. The idea of being able to focus for 8 months purely on sharpening my Japanese is very exciting to me.
I have only made it to this point because of the help and support of many people. So my excitement is deeply coated in gratitude for the people who have helped me get this far.
Expressing thanks is honestly something I’m not very good at. I’m working at it, partly because I’m increasingly realizing the unavoidable link between expressing thanks and experiencing joy.
I believe that we are hardwired for fellowship with God and with other people, and that gratitude is a key ingredient in those relationships. Receiving help without giving thanks is like trying to breathe in without ever breathing out. Sure I could suppress the need to give thanks (acting as if I, and only I, should take credit for where I am and what I have) but that would only be to my own detriment.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is… thank you. Yes, even just for reading this blog. I appreciate it. I really do.
Well, not nervous. I just can’t think of the right word. Pensive, perhaps. What I’m trying to say is that I’m aware of the costs of going. I will miss family and friends. I will miss my nephews growing up. I will miss weddings and other celebrations. I will miss mature cheddar.
I’ve long been aware of these things of course. But with the date being set, I have started to feel it more acutely.
Yeah, I know this contradicts the previous point. I guess that’s how these things go. I’d like to think it’s because I’m really deep and complex, but I giggled like a schoolgirl throughout the whole of Expendables 2 so probably not.
Anyway, I hadn’t thought of expressing it like this – “at peace” – until a friend said that’s how I seemed to be, and I realized she was right (thanks Sandra!).
I feel at peace. Not that I think it’s going to be smooth-sailing from here on, but I am convinced this is the right thing to do. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, but I am now sure that Japan is where God wants me to be. As someone somewhere once said, “The safest place you can be is the centre of God’s will.” I believe that. And so I am at peace.
OK, I take back what I said at the start. This is my main emotion.
Moving out to Japan long-term has been my plan for the last 3 years, and has been a vague idea for about double that. I’ve wavered on that slightly at times, but deep down I was never able to shake it. But I’d gotten used to Japan being an “one day” thing.
Even when I started to get more solid plans, it was “hopefully February” then “hopefully April.” It just feels weird to say, “I am going to Japan. I’m leaving on the 20th April and after 3 weeks in Singapore I’ll be arriving in Sapporo at the start of May.”
So that’s how I feel about moving to Japan: Excited, grateful, nervous, at peace, weird – in short, mixed.