26/03/2016

The Beginning of The End


After what felt like an eternity of waiting (and an unbelievable amount of patience) , I can finally see the end of my time in my Japan in the horizon... But I'm not as excited as I thought I'd be. I'm around 3 weeks away from starting the beginning of the semester and it was only today I realised I'm actually gonna miss Tokyo, that son of a bitch.

Living in Japan was particularly difficult for me because a lot of my high school friends ended up studying close to each other, whether it be the US, Europe, or Australia. So seeing photos of them hanging out and having to listen to them plan where they'd meet up over their holidays gave me the worst 3 and a half year FOMO you could ever imagine. I always wished I had chosen any of the schools I had gotten accepted to in the US, and sometimes I still have moments where I wonder how much happier I had been if I had done so, but even with all the shit I had thrown my way in the past 3 and a half years, this adventure was totally worth it.


I did make friends when I began university, but they always seemed to come and go with the seasons--literally, I'm not being dramatic... Ok, only semi-dramatic... I seemed to get along more with the exchange students, so I had a different set of friends every semester. My first crew from Autumn of my freshman year inevitably didn't last: a couple I occasionally talk to, a couple turned out to be poisonous people, another I outgrew, and others I naturally lost touch with. My second season of friends in Spring I still am pretty close with, especially this one guy who I've kind of been dating since then, he's pretty chill. But because I constantly made friends with exchange students I had a total of 4 seasons of friends, and at the same time I grew tired of having to say goodbye every semester and start fresh, so eventually I tried not to make friends with them anymore. I now have a very small handful of friends that I hang out with: a couple from university, a few I know from Manila, and some I met at my gym. I've weeded out a lot of people from my life in the past few years, so everyone that's left are pretty stand up guys and gals, and I don't know how I could possibly leave them.


But despite the wonderful people I've gotten to know, Tokyo still gets pretty damn lonely. If you've ever asked me how it's like to live in Japan, I'd most probably begin with hesitantly saying "it's.... chill," awkwardly laugh, then tell you that it's a nice place to visit but unless you love the culture so much, living there can be a total nightmare. I think the appeal Japan has (besides their food) is how different they are from any other culture, and there really is nothing like it. It's nice to take a break from what you're used to and delve into an environment that's completely unfamiliar to you. It's a refreshing experience and also the reason why I've done internships in Hong Kong and Singapore, but it also gets overwhelmingly exhausting, especially in Japan. In my 3 and a half years in Tokyo, I don't think I've ever felt at home, I just kind of got used to feeling like an outsider. It might be my fault for not properly learning the language, but even then, I don't think you can ever fully assimilate yourself into the culture because even the most fluent of foreigners need to pull out the gaijin card once in awhile... And don't even get me started on how frustratingly backwards Japan operates sometimes.


But having said that, I still get this weird sense of pride whenever people rave about Tokyo. When I see photos of people I know in Tokyo or they talk to me about going to Tokyo, in my head I'm like, yea, that's where I live! I know ALL the places you're going to! I guess somehow despite the loneliness and occasional aversion towards it and its seemingly unwelcoming attitude towards foreigners like me, when people start asking me about Tokyo, it becomes my city. When I get asked for tips on where to go and eat, I'm always more than happy to rave about the places that I've been to countless times and have the advantage of going to anytime I want. I like that I can say that I'm one of the few that have the opportunity to live in and experience firsthand this weird, foreign land that many people only get to see for days or weeks at a time, but I get to call my "kind of home, but not really."


I've been counting down the days 'till I got out of these weird ass place since day 1, but now that I'm in the tail end of my Japan experience, I'm hoping the countdown goes a little bit slower as I attempt to savour the last few months I have in the city that I love-hate so much. 

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