Today is the first day of my last year working in Korea. Seriously. This time I really mean it. If you don’t believe me, take a look at my phone. I’ve got a countdown clock going to the last day I officially have to come into work. As of right now I have 11 months, and 12 days. After that, the future is very blurry, which is both terrifying and exciting at the same time.
I spent some time in Tokyo on a solo trip recently. I had no idea what to expect when I got there, except for things friends had told me and some Youtube videos. I didn’t know if I’d get lost, lose all my money or worse. This was my first solo trip that didn’t involve a visit home, and my first trip to Japan. And, you know what?
It. Was. Awesome.
I went shopping, I ate food, I got NAKED (not in public). Even though the weather wasn’t that ideal while I was there (crazy wind), it was the most calming trip I’ve ever had. My head tends to be very busy, particularly when others are with me, and it can be frustrating when I can't get some time away from that. But here I was, in a new place with new people. I couldn’t read the language, or understand most of what was being said, and my impulse was to respond in Korean (what little of it I know). Overall, not a good indication that I’d survive 5-ish days by myself.
But I did. And, even more importantly, it was probably one of the least awkward trips of my life. I slipped into the daily Tokyo routine relatively easily. There were no children gawking at me, like they’d just seen a bear wander into the building that no one else could see. None of the children randomly shouted “hello!”, running off like it was a ding-dong ditch without a door. I did have a girl wave at me from her stroller, but I think she did that because she likes to wave at people. I waved back.
The children, and adults, didn’t particularly care that I was a foreigner. And when it became clear that I didn’t understand most of what they were saying, they were professional and friendly. And, in turn, I was the relatively calm, curious foreigner. .. I hope.