Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thoughts on Leaving Japan

OK, so I actually left Japan about 3 weeks ago (has it been that long?), but I’m just now getting around to writing this post. I felt really sad about leaving Japan. I’m leaving behind some amazing people and I’m really going to miss them. I’ve made some great friends and I’m not sure if I’ll ever see any of them again. As I was walking through the airport thinking about it, I got a little misty eyed. I am ready to see my friends and family at home.  I missed the familiarity of America and being able to read whatever I want, but now l miss my Japanese friends.

I’m not really looking forward to returning to reality. In Japan, every night seemed like a wide open possibility. I could do anything and I had all kinds of crazy adventures. Just by being a foreigner I could talk to people and they would instantly be interested in talking to me. When I stayed home, it was by choice, to rest up. In America, it's practically impossible to do anything special five nights out of the week. On the weekends I can go out to the same places, but I rarely meet new people. In America, I'm just another while dude. I know that part of the fun in Japan was simply being in a new place. I had a lot of crazy San Francisco adventures when I was still new to the city, but Osaka is a whole different level. Not only is it a new city, but the culture difference is gigantic and the language barrier is huge. Talking with locals was an entirely new experience, but as a foreigner I also became a member of an exclusive club with people from countries from around the world. 

The fact that I wasn’t working obviously contributed a lot to my Japanese experience. I probably spent a good 4 hours a day attempting to learn Japanese, but it was more like a hobby than work and I had a lot of free time. Reality means interviewing for a new job. Engineering interviews are always challenging and I usually end up questioning my abilities. What do I really want to do? Am I really a qualified programmer? When I do get a new job it’s going to be challenging getting up to speed and learning the new environment. Japan was an escape from all of this, and frankly, it loved up to expectations. Oh, I am ready for a schedule again. I know it’s time to get a job and I actually miss the challenges associated with being an engineer, but it sure was nice getting away for a while. I liked hanging out with people who don’t know the difference between Javascript and Java. The tech scene permeates San Francisco so much that sometimes it drives me a little crazy.

In any case, things are changing as they always do and it’s on to the next thing. I’ve got to look forward instead of backward. After lugging my overstuffed bag through trains and subways, my roller handle broke off as I was about 20 ft away from the check-in counter. I guess it means I’m done.


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