In recent years, traveling has become more accessible than ever before. We can fly, drive, or take a train to all kinds of exotic and exciting destinations in just a few short hours—for a price, of course. Until college, the furthest away I had ventured from home was a nine-hour car ride to Florida. My single mother simply couldn’t afford to jet us off to Europe or Mexico for the holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed and appreciated our summers at the beach, but I grew up longing to see the world for myself instead of through the dull flicker of a small TV screen (4K Ultra HD wasn’t a thing back then!)Continue reading “Travel Won’t Solve all of Your Problems, but You Should Still Do It”
Disclaimer! I am not a medical professional. The following post is based on my experience and personal research alone.
Many people are on birth control for one reason or another. In addition to preventing pregnancy, these hormone therapies can regulate menstruation, treat a host of medical conditions like PMS, and even reduce acne. If you want to travel the world and don’t see yourself having a baby any time soon, it’s probably a good idea to research your birth control options before going abroad. Of course, foreign countries have their own clinics and healthcare providers who can assist you. But it’s definitely nice not to worry about scheduling an appointment in another language while adjusting to a new life and culture. Getting your contraceptives well before you disembark can buy you some time and peace of mind during this exciting transition. If you’d like to know my thoughts and experience, please keep reading.
Since my last post, the general attitude towards COVID-19 in the United States has shifted from annoyance to fear. Sure, I still see quite a few people on my social media feeds posting memes about the virus and declaring the world is just overreacting, but with the sudden widespread cancellation of flights, schools, and important events, the world seems to finally realize how serious things could become if officials and the public fail to take appropriate precautionary measures.
I’ll admit that in the early stages of the novel coronavirus outbreak that originated late last year in the Hubei province of China, I was not too concerned and felt quite safe in my small city in Japan. No one seemed worried, and it was business as usual for weeks. However, as infections began popping up in increasing numbers around the world, the looming threat became harder to ignore. On one sunny weekend visiting a long-lost relative in Yokohama, I was constantly reminded that somewhere in that beautiful bay, a quarantined cruise ship housing roughly 621 ill passengers floated uneasily in the waves. Now, I certainly don’t have the expertise to criticize how the situation was handled, but I do know from research that the method of containment was less than ideal for stopping the spread of infection. A few weeks into the quarantine, Japanese passengers who were deemed healthy departed the ship and returned home via various routes of public transportation. Some experts warned even those who tested negative for the virus and showed no symptoms could potentially spread COVID-19 before becoming sick days later due to the virus’s relatively long incubation period. This could rapidly accelerate the rate of new infections in Japan.
Beauty standards are ridiculous and frustrating all over the world, but Japan can be an especially difficult place to live for people with curvier and more voluptuous figures. Since moving here, I’ve lost about 15-20 pounds due to making some extreme lifestyle changes, and I am incredibly proud of my hard work. While there are still a few goals I am working toward, I feel happier and more energized. However, that doesn’t stop the inappropriate remarks from colleagues or rude stares at the gym, nor does it help me squeeze into certain clothes in the fitting room. So how can people who “don’t fit” into the very narrow range of beauty in Japan learn to embrace and love themselves?
To anyone who reads my blog, I apologize once again for the hiatus. I was working on a post related to travel, but I decided to write about an unfortunate event that occurred to me last week instead. If you’ve glanced at the title of this post, then I’m sure you can guess what happened.
Last Wednesday, after a long day of helping students prepare their speeches, I went to an ATM to pay some bills via furikomi (I’ll have a separate post up on paying bills in Japan soon). The darned machine wouldn’t accept my phone number. After a few minutes of drawing kanji on Google Translate, I finally realized I needed to enter my area code. To be honest, I use my phone number so infrequently that I completely forgot about the area code. It’s a poor excuse, but most of my communication happens through the popular Line app. Fortunately, it was an error easy enough to fix, and I successfully entered the number and paid the bill. Hurray for keeping the lights and gas on another month—now I could get out of there. But in my rush to leave so the other customers queued in line could withdraw their cash and stop gawking at the silly foreigner unable to use an ATM, I failed to zip my bag properly.
You’re planning to move to Japan and starting a new life and job overseas. Now what? The process of uprooting everything and settling down somewhere unfamiliar can feel overwhelming. Unless your Japanese is already fluent or conversational, there’s a good chance you’re lacking some key grammar and vocabulary. Even if you speak zero Japanese, learning a few basics can make all the difference in your first weeks of work. I use these phrases frequently in my role as an assistant language teacher, but they can be used by anyone.
If you’ve managed to survive the sweltering, sticky, 蒸し暑い (mushi-atsui) Japanese summer, you’re in for a great reward. Depending on your region, the arrival of October and November means you’ll soon enjoy cooler temperatures, delicious foods, traditional festivals, and changing leaves. Seasonal treats and sweater-weather aside, the bright hues of Japan’s trees during autumn are magical enough to rival the beloved springtime cherry blossoms. Green landscapes slowly transform into rolling hills of bright yellows, burnt oranges, and crimson reds. It’s a fitting last hurrah before the leaves finally fall and the first snow touches the ground. Locals and tourists alike flock to the best spots to see nature’s limited-time performance. This tradition is known as Momiji-gari (紅葉狩り) or autumn-leaf viewing. If you’re in Japan, you don’t want to miss out!
Japan is one of the healthiest nations in the world, and moving here will almost certainly alter your lifestyle for the better. The food is also incredible. Japan offers a wide range of cuisine to sample, but just like anywhere else, the nation has its fair share of unhealthy foods. Fast-food chains are increasing in popularity for their taste and convenience, and many beloved dishes like ramen and okonomiyaki are loaded with sodium and high in calories. Contrary to popular belief, it’s naïve to think while living in Japan you can eat anything you want and still be healthy. I’m not saying you can’t indulge in ice cream or kaarage (Japanese fried chicken) but take care to get all the nutrients you need from various fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats.
You’ve been in Japan for a few months or years now, and the novelty of everything is slowly wearing away. You’re growing tired of eating traditional Japanese food known as 和食 (washōku) and just want the taste of something familiar to comfort your palate. But to your disappointment, the import store nearest to you seems to only sell small amounts of your favorite foods at an exorbitant price—I’m talking the tiniest jar of peanut butter for nearly 12 US dollars. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, now is the perfect time to either order Dominos, which is good but not quite the same, or plan a trip to the nearest Costco: a warehouse style big-box chainstore famous for selling bulk items at a reasonable price. I didn’t know this until recently, but the true beauty of having a Costco membership besides all the amazing deals is that you can use your member card to shop at any store location in the world. The chain has locations in the US, Mexico, Korea, Canada, and even Japan. There are 26 store locations scattered across the main island of 本州 (Honshū) and the smaller island of 九州 (Kyūshū). So hop onto Google Maps, or your navigation app of choice, and determine which store is easiest for you to access.