February 11, 2009

The Truth About My Japanese Adventure

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 Posted by Mary , , No comments

My dearest friend while I was an exchange student in Japan, Annie, is back in the Land of the Rising Sun. She made a post about her new experiences that made me ponder on things.

I've always been somewhat indifferent, if not negative, about some of my experiences during my stay there. Japan, as a country, has never been an interest of mine. The main reason I applied for the scholarship was because I wanted to study abroad, and it was the only one available. But I'm wondering, if I had given it the chance, would Japan have been more appealing? I've never really pondered that much about my stay there, and I've never told people about the things I loved and hated about the country. Maybe it's time I did.

I loved the trains. I loved how the leaves changed colors in autumn. I loved the food, karaoke, and the grills found in the middle of the table (Korean, I believe). I loved the vending machines, green tea, and the absence of cars on a lot of the roads. I loved the temples, shrines, and the abundance of World Heritage Sites. I loved the not-so-cold winter.

On the other hand, I hated the extremely hot summer, made worse by cemented pathways all around. I hated being the object of racism. I was horrified watching men take seats on trains and on chairs while their wives either stood up or sat on the floor. I didn't like the too hot baths and warm air conditioning. I disliked the fashion, and how their malls were set up. I disliked having to bag my own groceries, and how everything was so expensive. I hated how no one spoke English. Japan is a fun place if you have special people around you, but if you are alone, it's one hell of a lonely place. Most of all, I hated how the Japanese men seemed really sleazy, and how girls were portrayed as sex objects by the society.

Having said that, I realize now that I might have dwelt too much on the bad instead of appreciating the good. I will probably always have a love-hate relationship with Japan; but that's normal, I guess. There are pros and cons to everything in this world. Despite my sentiments, I am still eternally grateful for the experience, and most especially, for the friendships I forged.

I swore to myself that I would never, ever live in Japan again. Now, I find myself wishing I had the resources to visit. Today, thanks to Annie's post, I had an epiphany--and if I did get the chance to visit in the future, I will be more open and will try to embrace the country and culture without any prejudice.


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