Okay so it’s been awhile.
Honestly I have been trying to find things to write about — obviously I have been doing things, but I have found myself so stressed out and angry on a macro scale that I don’t even really understand what the point is of the minute details of my trip.
On the outside I am in Japan. I live in Musashi-Kosugi in a lovely neighborhood surrounded by children. My room seems like a shoebox sometimes but it has everything anyone would need and is very enlightening on my perception of size. I have friends that I go out to eat with, go to the gym with, I hike mountains and ice skate and spend hours in arcade centers that you literally cannot imagine the US having, and I acknowledge, truthfully, that I live a very good life here.
But I have exited the honeymoon phase of my trip — turns out when you live in another country it just becomes home, and home is often not interesting. I have fallen into the mundane, I have finals — school is very different here and yet the same.
I genuinely feel like I am learning everything but nothing that they say you would. Classes are held once a week so you can take more — which I enjoy. Attendance is the only thing that truly matters and as long as you have a credible school your GPA doesn’t matter; people sleep through their classes or don’t show up and it’s still so strange how little ambition people show in the classroom. Once you get in it’s not competitive until you look for a job. It’s similar to home in that everyday I think of dropping out and becoming a stripper, everyday I struggle with knowing that I love to learn but I hate school (it’s toxic and this environment is too much like high school drama, truly chaotic stuff).
Though I have become a more informed person, more critical. I have met with outstanding human beings and shed tears with ones that would make a difference if only the world really wanted that. I think I have realized just how unimportant we all are. I work with kids here — one told me she wants to work at the OECD when she’s older (I was stupefied because majority of adults don’t even know what that is). She was eye-opening because she was the first young girl I have met here that has said something other than “mom” and “teacher” for careers (I acknowledge that both of those careers are tremendously hard and deserve more recognition but you know what I mean). What I meant by that is that there is very rarely an “out of the norm” experience here. Things that happened in the past, will happen today because to try to change is upsetting the social rules that dictate law. I feel as though we are unimportant because when she told me what she wanted to do in the future, my first reaction was “impressive,” and the second was “enough people will tell her she can’t by the time she gets to uni.”
Learning more has made me feel more helpless — hopeless. There is a lot I can do as an individual, but nothing happens unless there is social change, and ultimately corporate change because I have learned that politics follows the money.
How can everyone live their lives facing facts and still prioritize their own selfishness over collective good? I ask myself this everyday.
On the opposite hand I have met some remarkable people. My professor of American politics is an advisor for the Japanese Defense Department and knows more about U.S. Presidents than I ever bothered considering. I have spoken with a 75 year old man who lost his wife (he gave me the best advice on love I ave ever received). I have met a Japanese girl who is 22 years old and lobbying the government for women’s rights. I felt the thickness in the air as she called Japan “a backwards country,” one that ‘has created refugees’ (sexual assault victims) while only allowing 10% into the country (that’s 20 families btw). I have met classmates that are the only two women in their law classrooms and others who want to legalize same-sex marriage. These are outstanding human beings.
I am happy here, despite this. I want to scream most of the time — this is not a country for those who want to think outside the norm; not vocally. But this is a country based on culture and tradition, and for me, coming from a country that has no consistent culture (culture is based off of every family’s ethnic background and environment in the States), and traditions that are deeply related to your environment and the color of your skin, it’s refreshing to only be an other by my nationality and not what I look like.
I understand that this was not fun or inviting or entertaining in the least. But I have had writers block for four months now and I have desperately needed to get this off my chest.