Hello my dear readers, it had been a while but you know when you come back into “normality” (it is all relative of-course!) and need to find your bearings all over again; getting in touch with your inner self takes some time.
Kiribati wasn’t the first time I went away into a culture that is very different than mine. The other day I happened to be speaking with my good friend Mak over Skype who is from Croatia and we were reminiscing over our times together in Japan and Germany, in Mak’s words, “when we were younger, less experienced and more naive to life”. Years later, six this month (since we first met) to be precise, we still keep in touch and in some ways still help eachother out just like we did scratching our heads over new information, studying for the chemistry paper or working out carbon emissions calculations with our learned friend Rana in the “….chamber” (which by the way was our nick-name for Mak’s room ;)). It was rather interesting as all of us came from different cultural/educational and professional backgrounds. This entry really was a result of our conversation about the years that have gone by and to raise a toast for having come out the other end 😀
I first met Mak in the elevators of my dormitory in Japan. Both jetlagged, tired and emotionally high, we looked at eachother (red-eyed from the jet-lag and an excess of emotions) and pretended to smile while I tried to hide my expressions of intimidation by a fairly typically sized Eastern European “dude” (aka Mak, the gentle giant. He he he). Little did we know that a friendship would form and that we were on a roller coaster ride both professionally and on a personal level.
We have both grown through this experience but trust me, going, making that decision to move, to leave our loved ones behind, to let go of life as we knew it, to take on that challenge was hard, really hard. That was the beginning of it all though. Neither of us has stopped since and no, not a single regret :).
Life before deciding to leave was also like a roller coaster for both of us! Feelings I experienced again when I prepped to leave for Kirbati 4 years later. Making decisions and compromises made for an interesting few months before getting on that Japan bound plane. I still remember crying like a baby for hours before I boarded sitting with my whole family at the airport. Now things have changed so much that they don’t even come into the airport to drop me off. That first leap was hard. Since then, every decision has been easier decisions more courageous.
The food, the culture, the education system, the people, the tsunami, the friends, the sceneries, the public baths, the odd conversations, the shots of whiskey after succeeding in exams, the late night study sessions, the karaoke, the anti-suicide railings on our dorm windows, the heated toilet seats, the martial arts for me and the running for Mak, the heat and humidity and the warm rains, the overnight ferries and the cherry blossom salty tea, the shared cooking, the tiny rooms, the hard beds, the green tea ice cream, the 9-5 atm machine with the bowing girl and guy, the 4th floor, the half hour every few hours air conditioning breaks, the rules, the vending machines, the changing seasons, the cherry blossoms, the autumn leaves, the perfect cakes, the fake dishes as menus, the animations….. Ah….. The thousand photos a day!!! Ha ha ha….
So glad we did it.
Peace out! Until next time 🙂