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Opinion – Challenges and Direction

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Travelling brings with it a lot of interesting experiences and challenges, that is definitely certain. It is often said that travel is good for the soul, a saying I wholeheartedly stand by and believe to this day. It is a bit unfortunate that I did not catch the travel bug until I was almost 28 years old. I felt as though I missed out on a lot of time to learn the many life lessons offered through the experience. Be that as it may one cannot sit around and dwell on the regrets.

When I finally broached the lack of international travel it introduced a lot of direction and drive in my life. Sitting here I know that has no abated in the least despite the fact I feel as though I have found “home”. That in itself may sound like a bit of a weird concept. Many people would sneer their noses at such an idea, being of the mind that taking steps outside of North America and calling it home is tantamount to a personal treason of some regards.

I have spent most of my physical time in Canada however it is not a place where my imagination roamed. Despite the many years of what seamed like inaction and water treading I would find myself eventually making it here to Japan under the strong minded personal premise that this is where I belonged. At the time it was very much what I believed despite the fact that I heard countless stories online of similar approaches that ultimately lead to a hard impact of the realities of life here.  I have found, after over a year’s time living in this country that despite the challenges that I’ve endured during this course, my love of the country and experiences has only grown.

Living here you will encounter a lot of foreigners with varying opinions on their experiences. Certainly, people will have many different experiences here but on a general level those that stay here a while fall into a number of categories. For the better part I try and avoid most of these groups as I’ve found it to be counter to personal growth. For one, I have an absolutely terrible time being around individuals who have spent a good portion of their life working within Japan, being married with a Japanese national and having little to no interest in the culture or the language.  It’s something I will not dwell on beyond saying that I plainly don’t understand it nor have any interest in being involved with it.

There are then the individuals who have grown weary of some cultural quirks or daily life oddities that are different from countries back home and spend a good deal of their recreational time comparing the differences between countries and being quite vocal about their distastes, despite having a life here. I am of two minds in regards to this. Overall it makes for negative interactions. Who knows, perhaps in a number of years I will have a bit thinner skin on points of contention but I doubt it. I am of the opinion that if you have creative criticism you should do your part to help drive growth or change rather than sitting around complaining about it. For the most part I don’t want to hear it though. While not exactly a slogan for international growth and change, those individuals who find reason to be overly vocal about the challenges of life in Japan as an expat should feel more than free to return to their place of origin. A strong statement no less but one I find a hard time finding a middle ground on.

You will also come across, though in much rarer form individuals who have tried to fully adapt and integrate into the lifestyle here. These are the people I actually feel most at ease with. By no means am I certainly there, at that stage, or even a respectable example of this sort of individual but it is where I have my sights set.

Life here may be challenging and different but for me it is something that I genuinely enjoy on a daily basis and something that has given me drive to grow and continue to find new aspirations and goals. While certainly it can be nice to blow off some steam on some of those challenges I am finding myself actively distancing myself from a rather large portion of the expat community here. This year I hope to keep a greater focus on the people and experiences that have helped develop my interests in this place. There is still so much so see and do and I hope I can bring those experiences on a presentable level with my photography and writing.

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