Today I finished the most grueling segment of my study abroad prep so far–and hopefully the most grueling, period. I feel as though there must be a better system for getting credits to transfer between institutions, but right now my only thought involves hiring an employee dedicated to the task. Probably overkill. As it was, I spent the last couple of weeks running around to various departments and trying to convince them that my host university’s courses were close enough to my home university’s that they should count. Not exactly fun times for the introvert.¹
However, with that accomplished I am one step closer to a long-awaited return to Japan.
I suppose I should introduce myself. In 2001, I was a not-so-young military spouse who had managed to never even get on a plane, never mind visit a foreign country. When my husband came home and told me we were headed to Japan, I cocked my head and made a list, ticking them off on my fingers: “Sushi, geisha, samurai, ninja, um…kimono.” That was all I knew about the Land of the Rising Sun.
But by the time we headed back to the States three years later, for the first time in my life I dreaded leaving behind a place–not the people I knew or my favorite restaurants, but everything. I cried on the plane out of Tokyo. If I think too hard about it, I’ll cry now. I never really knew what homesick meant before.
I could not rely on the military to ship us back (or for much of anything else, really, but that’s an entirely different blog), so I had to figure how to do so under my own power. With the support of my wonderful 夫 (otto – husband), I began to slowly work toward a degree in something that would hopefully translate into eventual work in Japan.
In the nine years since, I have–to be somewhat melodramatic–pined. I like to tell myself I’ve been working toward my return, but my language skills have not progressed as I would like, and I accidentally became an anthropology major somewhere along the way. I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with myself when my schooling is done and 夫 retires from his military career, only that it still has to be in Japan and probably ought to have something to do with this degree on which we are spending thousands of dollars.
So, that’s the nutshell version of me, at least insofar as relates to this blog. In April, I should be in Japan, all alone for the first time in a while and trying to peel back layers of culture shock for you, Theoretical Audience, to enjoy.
¹It’s probably worth noting that only two of the five classes involved were actually an issue. My Japanese professor signed off on the Japanese language class without a problem. My Anthropology adviser, although I was ready to do battle with him since the class I wanted to transfer said “sociology” on the tin, barely blinked at my explanation before he scrawled his illegible name on my forms, approving both that and my back-up anth option. The one that was actually a huge problem? Japanese Performing Arts. Nobody wanted to claim it.