On the courage of losing sight of the shore (or lack of such)

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So I’ve moved to Japan, like I dreamed to, like I made it my Goal to, like I planned to. Yes dreams do come true once you stop thinking of them as of dreams. Now it’s time to find out how it feels to have made your dream come true, how to live that dream. That’s what they don’t prepare you for. How to remember why you aspired for this in the first place.

And if you can ever get close to regretting your choice of dream.

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Inspirational quotes tell us in powerful phrasing to be strong and aim high, yet they don’t mention how many tears there would be shed after you’ve made it. Because that’s where and when you’re most fragile. Having a goal you believe in and smashing everything on your way towards it (or taking each and every step with care and due precision) is like running your distance. As you cross that long-awaited finish line, you’re thrilled but out of breath and your heart aches. Well mine does.

It’s all good to have the courage to lose sight of the shore, yet in order to actually cross that ocean you need more than just that. You need all that courage to keep going all the way you have so bravely planned, plus a whole lot of other supplies.

 

*****

The following part of the post was typed at various times during my first days in Japan – in the street, on the metro, at my workplace (more about that in future posts).

 

***** First day things *****

As soon as I’m out in the street or even better on the subway, I start smiling involuntarily. That’s when I remember what I loved about this country in the first place and why I’ve come here at all.
Everything around me so far seems right and close to heart, like I got to know it and knew it to be. Streets, neat houses, pavements, cleanliness, small private businesses, trains with their warm seats that make you drowsy any time of day, people who I’m not afraid to address for help, shop windows, little details I pay attention to, like a bronze owl placed on top of a very ordinary tiled column at a metro station. The language that I want so much to learn as soon as possible so that I could belong to this place more. Because I want to.
It is now more home-like in my apartment thanks to the things I brought from home, but it’s cold and lonely.
***** First week frustrations *****
When the initial shock of being away and alone wore off a bit and with the day spent at school, for a couple of days life got down to almost normal. However, Friday brought me back to tears in a new way. Frustrations that came out were about me not being able to communicate in Japanese. For the first time out of all my time in Japan I felt an alien, clearly an outcast.
In a nutshell, I went to a bank to open an account but the lady refused to deal with me because I could not speak the language. She kept repeating the same thing over and over again and it just did not help – besides, I got stuck, paralyzed and couldn’t utter a word in Japanese, or English, or even Russian. My face must have looked dumb and eyes welled up with tears. When I was out in the fresh air and about 3 minutes passed, I knew it was all fair. I am a foreigner, they don’t have to speak English, I should have taken care of this communication issue myself as opening a bank account means you need to discuss important points and security. I felt low for the rest of the day and it even rubbed off on my English as I felt unconfident while talking with colleagues.
This unpleasant situation made me feel sorry for students who struggle understanding English in class if it’s the only language spoken by teacher. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it in my future posts, as soon as I get into an actual classroom and lessons begin.
*****
I would like to thank all those people who have wished me luck, supported me and keep doing so with their good words in public comments or private messages. I appreciate it ever so much. I would like to give a mostly useless but 100% sincere digital hug to the people who tell me they know it must be a hard time. It is.
Bottomline: a week and many tears past, I don’t regret my choice of dream yet.
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Thanks for reading.
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17 thoughts on “On the courage of losing sight of the shore (or lack of such)

  1. gemmalunn says:

    Hi Ann,

    Firstly, congratulations on moving to Japan it’s amazing that you’ve made the move! I’m sure others have said this already but if it’s any consolation I think your experiences are totally normal. I had similar frustrations when I moved to Korea and I didn’t go alone and had a lot of support from my school (they opened bank accounts etc for me) so I can imagine it’s much harder if you have to do all those things by yourself! I remember someone giving a presentation when I first moved to Korea saying how all your emotions are soo much more extreme so highs even higher and lows much lower and I think this was pretty accurate!

    I’m sure everything will work out great, good luck and can’t wait to read more about your experiences.

    Sending you a big digital hug 🙂

    • Cheer you up Ann. I hope you will enjoy your life in Japan soon

    • annloseva says:

      Hi Gemma,

      Thank you so much for supportive and wise comment – a week later and things look much better to me now!)) My colleagues help me when I need Japanese, I had my first classes, and I made myself more at home in my new home. I am indeed very emotional still, and as you said, it appears extreme at times. But you know, I smile more often than cry)))

      Thank you and hugs back!!

  2. paulreaduk says:

    Well done on leaving sight of the shore.. it’s easy to dream wistfully about doing something, but actually getting on and doing it takes some determination and courage.

    As someone who has been in a similar situation to the one you’re in, when I was in Moscow (although it was a lot easier for me than it is for you!), I sympathize with the difficulties. I am sure I speak for a lot of regular readers in wishing you well… your readership probably comprises a lot of people who have felt similar to how you felt that day…! 🙂

    I am looking forward to reading more about your experiences. I know for a fact that in a matter of months you’ll be able to look back at things like this and barely even recognize the situation… it’ll seem like from a different life.

    Much respect to you… fist raised in solidarity…!

    • annloseva says:

      Paul, I thank you heartily for being my regular reader and for always fnding time and right words to comment, especially on posts like this, when I truly cry out for understanding and support, or at least a nod. Thank you!

      As many of my regular readers are people who in fact inspired me to take this step in the first place, I can’t express how happy I am to be in this life I’ve chosen. For now, those low days are almost gone and I’m glad they were recorded here. I know I’ll find empathy and sympathy when I keep writing about my experiences. It is a precious fact and thought.)

      Thank you again and especially for the respect. It is interesting how little I think about my big decision from that angle that I actually might have done something big. Thank you for reminding me.

  3. Hello there, fellow-gaijin! A friend of mine gave me a link to your blog, saying that you’ve moved to Japan and might need some support. So here it is!
    Life in Japan can be really tricky sometimes, if you don’t know the language (I’ve been there). There are ways around it though, for instance, there are bank offices where they can speak English and gladly willing to help foreigners. And in general people are really supportive here.
    But still, you’ll have to get used to feeling of being alienated. That’s not how most Japanese people are, but sometimes they may unwillingly make you feel so.
    But don’t lose the spirit! Life in Japan is really amazing, you’ll start to fully enjoy it pretty soon, trust me 🙂
    By the way, I’m in Japan and I’ve been here for a while now, so if you need any help or some questions answered, feel free to contact me.

    • annloseva says:

      Wow thank you, that was a very pleasannt surprise of a comment. All good words and I’m now (a week later) more ready to not lose the spirit.
      And I’m glad to know there’s a fellow-gaijin out there somewhere willing to give a helping hand in a time of need. How would I contact you then?)

  4. iidaruth says:

    Oh, heavens–have you gotten your bank account settled yet? I remember trying to do that myself as clearly as if it were yesterday…..and it was nearly 20 years ago. I didn’t succeed either, and I spoke Japanese. Rely on friends, rely on strangers–people will help you, I promise. Sometimes it seems cold and unfriendly here, but that’s often other folks’ nervousness around “foreigners” and lack of confidence in their own English. You will need all your charm and positivity, all the patience you can muster, and an inkan(Japanese wooden seal). Do you have one yet?

    • annloseva says:

      I certainly am sorry to be replying in a week’s time, but now I can safely say that I have an inkan and a bank account! What I want to thank you for specifically is for giving great advice about charm and positivity. Indeed, I have the patience (a lot of it as most Russians do, I believe) but I was too easily and too quickly upset and thrown off by this communication problem. I am not saying I have improved my Japanese in this week, or that I expect no more problems…but now I feel more adequately judging the situation I’m in. THank you for support!!

  5. Chewie says:

    Hi again!

    I’m happy to hear about your move to Japan! It’s too bad about having to try to set up your bank account alone. When I was in Korea, I had plenty of help from coteachers for that stuff. But the feeling of losing all sense of ability to communicate, of having no language at all…oh, I know that feeling all too well. Maybe it’s part of expat life. I felt it often during my time in Korea. Hang in there! Things will get better.

    • annloseva says:

      Hi Chewie, nice to hear from you! Thank you so much for the words. I guess I will jst embrace this new life that I started, with all it has to offer! Feeling better now but aware of the difficulties ahead and happening at any moment)) Happy to not be alone and to have all of you in this online therapy room))

      • Chewie says:

        “I guess I will just embrace this new life that I started, with all it has to offer! ”

        Well put! That’s exactly it, Anna.

  6. Sandy Millin says:

    Hi Anya,
    I’m so proud of you for making this leap, because I know how much work it has been for you to get there. Well done! As everyone has said these frustrations are normal, but they are also what makes you stronger. They are the points you will look back on and laugh at because they are the lows that make the highs seem so much higher. I look forward to reading more about your life in Japan, and I hope it all works out the way you want it to.
    Good luck, and keep writing!
    Sandy

    • annloseva says:

      Thank you so much, Sandy! You are undoubtedly one of those people by whose example I was inspired and continuously driven to go forward with my plan. Thank you for this and for support all the time!!
      Hugs

  7. swisssirja says:

    Dearest Ann,
    I read your post yesterday but it hasn’t stopped lingering in my head and heart. Especially the part at the beginning -Now it’s time to find out how it feels to have made your dream come true, how to live that dream. That’s what they don’t prepare you for. How to remember why you aspired for this in the first place.

    That is so powerful. But it can only come from someone who’s made it so far. Otherwise it’s just empty words. But when you write them, I believe them. Because you’ve made it.

    I’m at the beginning of something new too and these lines just hit home so powerfully. I agree, dreams do come true. that’s why we have to be careful what we dream to have 🙂

    I wish you all the best and then even better.
    You’re amazing!

    Big, big hugs
    Sirja

    • annloseva says:

      Dear Sirja,

      Your beautiful comment came unexpectedly and was a nice chance for me to look 4 months back. Thank you so much. At the moment I am still digesting the experience and the outcomes of this big change (which was certainly for the better, no matter how challenging!), but I feel I need to start thinking of my next step, my next goal or dream. I need to formulate it ,and that is what I am not ready to do just yet.

      I wish you all the luck, strength, mental and physical energy you need in your new endeavour!! You can count on me for sending those vibes and well-wishing your way.

      HUGS

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