As I was taking one of my usual long drives home, I couldn’t help but think of how Japan has changed me as a person. Much of it is related to driving, but there are some things that have affected how I perceive things. Below are my compiled and peculiarly organized thoughts:
1) Enjoying mountain driving and long distances
When I was in Los Angeles, I wasn’t a big fan of driving mountain roads. I liked my spacey highways and nicely paved roads (though how nicely paved could LA roads be? I digress.) Living in the mountains and having almost nothing but winding, narrow roads, I have actually come to like it quite a bit. It adds variety, spice, and adrenaline to what would normally be a mundane drive from one destination to another. I have to be careful to turn a blind corner and not smash head-on with an oncoming driver. Yet speeding down curves are so much fun! The long distances I have to travel to get anywhere are just fine. When I would complain about driving 45 minutes in LA, now seems like a quick drive, given that some places could take me hours to get to. Which leads me to my next point.
2) More patience- understanding the tactics of crazy Japanese drivers
I have developed a much more calmer demeanor on the road. True, Japanese drivers are as crazy (if not more crazy) than LA drivers, but the fact that I know they are all uniformly crazy and don’t have malicious intentions when they cut me off has made me accept their erratic driving behavior. It doesn’t mean that I feel it is okay with the way they drive; I have just come to terms with it and I adjust my driving style without losing my cool.
3) Appreciating nature and the different seasons
Japan is beautiful. Everywhere I have been in this country, I never cease to be amazed by the gorgeous scenery. The wildlife are so unique and rare that when I see one, I just get so excited (that is, if I see it from far away and in the safety of my car). Spring is probably the most beautiful season as this entire country seems to be covered with cherry blossom trees. All the buds are sprouting, daffodils sparkle the sides of roads and gardens, and the trees are starting to revive themselves from a dreary cold winter. Before I’ll know it, summer will be here with tons of lush greenery, fruits, and fluffy rice fields. Fall will turn the land bright orange, red, and brown, and winter will be a glistening sea of white snow. I realize other places around the world are just like this, but I come from a place where we only have 2 types of temperatures: cool and warm.
4) Dressing more plainly; not being superficial
Okayama has dressed me down. It’s not to say that Japanese people are not as fashionable as LA folks; it’s just that the field I am in (figuratively and literally) has forced me to dress down significantly. For instance, today I came to school wearing a suit since it was the first day of classes. The teachers looked at me in wonderment. Luckily, I packed my track pants and a random sweater in my bag to change into. I pulled my hair in a pony tail, dabbed on the very minimum amount of make-up on so I don’t look sleepy and this is how I am most days during the week. On weekends, if I go out to go shopping, I don’t usually dress up either. Folks here aren’t really into the latest fashion trends and the girls don’t have their own style. They all share the SAME style, which isn’t MY style, so it’s hard to find clothes. Plus everything is so expensive and don’t fit me quite right; it’s hard to shop here for me. Since I dress so plainly now, I have become a little less superficial (not that I was incredibly superficial to begin with), but I am afraid I might be losing my sense of style, which I go out of my way not to by reading up on the latest fashion blogs (:P). Thank you tumblr.
The extent of my weekend wardrobe
5) A new found appreciation of cooking and baking
Coming from a person who isn’t always sure nor confident about herself, I would like to say that I am actually becoming a better baker and cook. Yes, I think I should pat myself on the back once in a while with a self-compliment. Japan has made me more of a homebody and I really enjoying cooking at home. If I have spare time, I cook and bake. My cooking skills now include okonomiyaki, different types of pastas, creamy chicken sauce, nabe, broiled fish, noodles, veggie dishes, and rice dishes. My baking expertise has now expanded to snickerdoodle cookies, pies, and scones. It brings me great joy that I can create delicious edible goods for others (and myself) to enjoy.
My homemade rice-cooker banana bread.
There you have it. These are just a few ways Japan has changed me. Who knows what will happen in a few months or years? Maybe these attitudes will be obsolete or maybe I’ll be changed forever.
Let’s change for the better together,