Happy New Year! Okay, so New Years was three weeks ago, sorry for the delayed reaction. With a new year comes a time of reflection of what we’ve done in the past year, and what we would like to change for the upcoming year. These past three weeks I have been doing just that. I have been thinking about many things but one topic is weighing on me particularly heavy this evening, so that is the topic I will be writing about.
I have been reflecting on my negative attitude at times about my experience here in Japan, my unwillingness to accept parts of the culture, and my desire of wanting to leave Japan every time I got a break longer than two weeks; and as much as I’d like to tell you I’m going to rid all of this from my life…I know me. (Although I am starting the New Year with a much better attitude than I ended it.)
I think a lot of my revelation came from my time in China. I traveled back to China for the holidays to spend 10 days with a friend I hadn’t seen in a few years. Being reunited with my friend and China was amazing. I also met a lot of new friends during my time in China. They were mostly other ex-pats who were staying in China for 1 or 2 months partaking in Internships. The newness of the Chinese culture still left some of them living a more comfortable western style of living…which kind of bothered me. I then began to reflect on why this bothered me, and I concluded that it bothered me because I was on vacation in China. If I had wanted the western experience I would have went home, I wanted to go to China to EXPERIENCE China again. It was so easy for me to critique the way they were experiencing China because I had lived there before and knew the “real” China. This then got me looking at how I spend my time in Japan… and realized anyone who has lived here before could just as easily critique the way I’m living. Everything I did while staying in China to absorb their culture, I realize I neglect to do on a daily basis while living here in Japan. It could be as simple as speaking Japanese instead of English when I know the phrase, eating Japanese food, or going exploring to see more of the rural parts of Japan. I live in my Tokyo bubble and surround myself with comfortable things, and English speaking people…which is rather easy to do. But when I move back to America that is not what I am going to want to remember.
Therefore be it resolved that this year 2011, I intentionally spend more time speaking Japanese and exploring the culture. Be it further resolved that I realize I am living in another culture and learn to adjust rather than trying to make those around me adjust to MY culture. I hope 2011 will bring me more patience and acceptance than I was willing to have in 2010. And with that I leave you with some pictures of my recent visit to China!
The Beijing Olympic Stadium: The Bird's Nest and Aquatic Center
Beijing's 798 Art District
The Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai
Random Assortment of Pictures around Beijing and Shanghai
Hopefully after looking at these million pictures you too can feel like you were in China! I hope you enjoyed these pictures as much as I enjoyed my time back in China!