My visit with hubs to Japan has brought me right back down memory lane. It’s hard to believe we actually lived there 4 years ago. Where has the time gone?!?!? Being an expat is an experience like no other I’ve ever had. It tests every part of my being and pieces of my being I didn’t even know existed. It has, however, given me an opportunity to grow and change … for better or worse, I’ll never be the same. I’m thankful today I had Japan as the first go around. I don’t know if I could survive the PRC without having been prepped in Japan. Below are some of the things I’ve taken with me from the prior and current experience as an expat.
I know…completely random. The Japanese are really conscious of this and today I’m grateful to have their habits and carry them with me going forward. Our apartment in Japan had a trash room where everything was literally divided into the smallest segments. A pile for newspapers; One for magazines; Another for paper products; Plastic containers but not to be co-mingled with plastic bottles; Yet another for glass bottles and so on. Finally, there was a small trash can for waste. It was amazing to see how much could be recycled and how much “waste” one really has. If we had half a small grocery bag of waste every week, that was a lot. Everything else was recycled. I always felt that every country could learn a lot in this regard from the Japanese.
I never thought much (well, as much) about food until I came to Japan. I could tell I felt a lot better eating the food there over time. I didn’t feel weighed down like I did sometimes in the U.S. and food there wasn’t chalk full of preservatives and sugars the way U.S. food is. Our bread went bad in a matter of days – 3 tops. I got all weird going home watching the bread sit for 3 weeks on end without change. I also became highly sensitive to sugar when I would visit home and could barely eat a third of a normal portion of ice cream. I know. It’s sad. I was missing out. It really caused me to think about what I was putting into my body and how it affected my health in the long run. I know there’s always room for improvement in this area and realistically, I don’t know that I could ever do without a good ole’ American burger, french fries or ice cream. Let’s be real. However, I do try to consider the long-term impact of food on our overall health. The PRC is no exception. Food is always a thought/concern I’m thinking of.
Where’s that quote I heard about a country not being designed to make you comfortable but rather its own people comfortable. Truth. Nothing is quite the same. Simple tasks take eons longer to carry out and the lifestyle you have become accustomed to no longer exists. At all. Anything and everything that could test ones patience at some point tests yours. Sometimes multiple times. It’s a completely blank slate where you must start from scratch to function. I look at it as good practice for kids.
Pushing the Comfort Zone
I’m living everyday outside of what’s comfortable. It’s not really so much of a push to expand the comfort zone as it is a plunge into the depths well outside of the comfort zone with no foreseeable end to the discomfort. The exception is my strategically placed home visits. However, I am doing it. And with time, it has been getting easier and dare I say it … more “comfortable.” Sort of.
…of what I want life to look like in 5 years. I was perfectly content in the U.S. having done our little adventure in Japan. The PRC came up and we decided it would be a good chance to have another adventure before settling in to sleepless nights and poopy diapers…and the other cool stuff that comes with kiddos 🙂 It really gives you a new perspective that no other experience could. The lens in which you previously saw the world has changed. And with it, our lives and what we want our future to look like.