I have always wanted to tour Europe and Asia. Mostly I want to visit Japan. I love beautiful scenery and being in a place that's different from the average everyday U.S. sounds ideal.
I was surfing around, trying to find personal accounts of Americans living in Japan. I ran across a lot of negative ones. Most of them were single people who hate being alone or looked at funny by natives, married women who have unwelcoming relatives, and a lot of prejudice and judgemental perspectives. What happened to respecting and accepting our differences? I imagine I have a rose-glassed view, which was the whole point of looking it up, but no one gets to decide where they come from.
Then I found a lot of optimistic blogs. One was very sweet, about a mom who married her Japanese soul mate and was living happily in a rural town in Japan with him and their two cute little boys. I was getting all mushy over it, so I had to stop reading. Something about children stories makes my biological clock tick pretty loudly. I'm not big on the idea of just marrying someone, but people who find their perfect mate make me jealous. C'est la vie.
So yeah. I followed the path of blogs from that one and found a community of perfectly happy expatriates. There's always two sides of any coin. People who go expecting to be treated wonderfully without respecting the culture probably have a lousy time. I don't know how true it is, but I figure if things don't work out when I go, it's not like I'll have to stay. If anything, it might make me appreciate home more.
I was shocked to learn that Wal-Mart and Costco have branches in Japan. I didn't realize they were international. I'm impressed with the slightest mention of a Wendy's in Tokyo. I already knew that KFC and McDonald's were big over there, but never expected Wendy's. They even have a mail-order club for importing American brand food.
The Japanese are far more diligent about preventing cross contamination than I was led to believe. That in itself was a huge relief since I can't eat shellfish, crab, lobster, or shrimp. I was worried, seeing as Japan's primary products are seafood and rice. I was being paranoid for no reason.
Japan isn't any more tropical than Florida, so I'll probably feel right at home, until the cold weather starts. I'm such a wuss in winter.
I'd like to meet up with some of the Japan blogiverse. I'm sure they dread the idea of meeting an over-enthusiastic new arrival. I'm too self-conscious to force myself on anyone, even a whole country, which makes me think I shouldn't go. Being an Anthropologist means learning about cultures, and what good am I if I'm won't even visit another country?
I'd rather travel and find out I hate it, than stay home and never know.