Its strange to arrive in a country for the first time and think “Right, this is my new home”. That's a whole lot of pressure on your first impressions. It was going to be very hard to swallow if my first thoughts weren't good ones... Very fortunately for me (and James), the moment I stepped into Narita airport in Tokyo I felt totally fascinated by the place.
I was bedraggled by the flight and feeling queasy. However, the corridor up to passport control distracted me, it smelt good, it looked so clean and orderly. I stepped into the toilets and it was an amazing sight! Now you may be thinking “Wow Jesse, you are easy to please” but seriously, you need to see the toilets over here! If you are a bad traveller like myself, you know the breaking point of getting off a plane feeling sick is when the place smells funny, is a horrible warm temperature and the toilet is dodgy.
I came out of that lovely, spotless toilet with all the snazzy buttons with a sense that Japan and I would get along.
Toilets aside, my impressions after the first few weeks have been a list of endless positives. Despite us both having jet lag for the first four days and consequently being both irritable and overly emotional we have loved it all.
The only thing for us, being used to the english climate, is that the humidity is slightly undesirable. That is no fault of the Japanese of course and every eatery, shop and even the public transport provide air con meaning you can be in a constant state of coolness; it just depends on how long you want to expose yourself to the outside. Consequently, you just have to man up, purchase a fan, a sweat towel and keep yourself hydrated- a totally acceptable compromise.
An element I have struggled with is the distance of those we have left to be here. The goodbye at the airport was a lot worse than I expected. Resulting in what I think may have been a state of shock for the first few days. When we went through security at Heathrow and sat in our terminal I cried constantly for at least half an hour. I didn't feel like it was going to stop and my mind filled with thoughts such as 'I don't think I can do this' and 'maybe I won't last more than a few months'.
It sounds very dramatic but every time thoughts of my family came into my mind, I felt a deep sense of sadness. I kept telling myself how ridiculous it was as I hadn't even been away for a week, I should just see it as if I was on holiday. And yet, it felt really painful.
I can honestly say that those feelings felt doubly worse, when jet lagged, there was one sleepless night containing quite a few tears. I lay there, asking God why it had to be so hard. I felt Him saying to me that this was where He wanted us to be. That with Him, I could do this, James and I could do this, together. I still don’t get how God can suddenly lift off such horrible feelings and give comfort and hope. I was able to fall asleep feeling totally the opposite to how I had just a few minutes before.
After those initial days, it didn't feel so final or so stomach dropping whenever I thought about someone at home. Not to mention, FaceTime and Skype are beautiful creations! One or two conversations later to Mum and Dad I realised it wasn't going to be so hard. So really, I find it quite strange to look back and think about how hard it all felt just over two weeks ago.
Although we have been here for just 18 days it feels like double that. We have already lived in four different locations, visited a new church which we loved, eaten our body weight in ramen and gone out with some friends to experience a proper Japanese night out. We are currently in Fukuoka City and loving it; which is helpful seeing as we plan to make it our home for the near future.
James has had two interviews this week, and yesterday he was offered a job that he really hoped he would get.
So here we are, one job down and visas in the bag.
We are here to stay… for now, and we are both very excited.