Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. It’s really happening. I know it’s still early days since I heard the news but I’m struggling with not pinching myself every few minutes to make sure I’m not dreaming. I haven’t slept properly since I heard the news so my eyes feel like they are about to come out of their sockets to try take a break from me and my overthinking.
Anyway, this isn’t really a reaction post, I actually wanted to write down my expectations for when I get to Japan. Call it an accountability list of sorts. Of course, expectations are dangerous things because when they are not met, we often go on a psychotic spiral, but that’s exactly why I like penning mine down. Once I see them on “paper”, I know where my disappointments might lie, so I tend to deal better with the inevitable disappointment. Let’s get to it:
1) Trains are fast and we fly on our bicycles
Even though I don’t know my placement yet (clearly I wrote this ages ago), I’m really keen to be put somewhere semi rural. One of the main reasons for this is because I want to explore Japan on two wheels! I’ve been driving for 7 or so years now and I’m tired of cars, being placed rural might mean I have to drive everywhere which is not on my to do list to be honest. I’m not a city girl but if I where to get placed in a city, I think I might spaz out from being able to ride the train everyday and actually get to places quickly. It’s no secret that South Africa’s Metrorail trains are not the best but of the two times I’ve managed to take a trip on the train, I really have wished it was more normal for everyone to do (The Gautrain is obvs an exception when talking about South African trains as it was created for a specific higher income portion of society).
2) Everything and everywhere is mountains
I currently live in Pretoria with my sister and the area where we live is basically in a valley between two mountains so I’m no stranger to these monstrosities on the skyline. Of course I’ve heard that Japan is this on the scale of times one hundred and fifty percent. So yeah, I’m expecting to see some new land masses that make me awe and wonder at God’s creation even more.
3) I’m going to be an other. Again!
Growing up, I got put in an Afrikaans nursery school where I was one of only two black kids for the longest time. My brother loves retelling tales of my time as an Afrikaaner. He found it funny that I was the only one in the house who spoke this language when everyone else had a great distaste for it (see post-Apartheid-era-black-culture-reactions-to-Afrikaans). Anyway, a few years after that at my second primary school, luckily an English school with more variety this time, I was once again placed in a class where I was the only black kid. These two tidbits of information are just to highlight that I’m no stranger to being an other, heck I’m a Joburg Zulu so that comes with it’s own realities of being an other within my own culture. I’m expecting to continue my adventures of being an other in Japan and taking it in, as I have my whole life, with a pinch of sugar. Being an other has always made me the most interesting person in the room, yes sometimes that has meant unwanted or rude attention, but other times it has meant automatic conversation which later led to friendship. I expect the same will happen in Japan and I’m already preparing a thick mental skin to deal with all the bullies who would have me die for being different.
4) Where is my God?
I’m Christian. In fact I’m very Christian. I love God and Jesus and I thank Him every day for this opportunity but I’m worried that I’m going to a country with exactly vaguely less than 1% of Christians. I’ve made sure to join the Christian JETs facebook group and to pray into my time there but I still get scared sometimes. What am I scared of? Well I don’t want to start practicing shinto like beliefs unconsciously as a byproduct of being in the environment. But I guess that’s why one needs to be strong in their relationship with Christ above all else because he will walk with you through those times.
5) Food is life!
I’m no stranger to Japanese food and that means I know the deliciousness that I’m about to be faced with. Yes you could say this is an expectation that I really do hope will not be crushed into nothingness so I’m holding all thumbs.
And that’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll think of more stuff as time goes but as I was writing this I came to realise I have other posts to write about South Africa in preparation for my departure. Check you next time.