Living Abroad Log: Month Four

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This past month was all go, go, go. We made our first trip out to the countryside of Japan and even jetted off to Dubai for a week! It is now December, although it feels more like October here, and we have four full months of living in Tokyo under our belts. Here are the things that I’m currently loving, liking, and wanting to leave behind.


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Daiso. It’s just the best store in Japan. I had heard great things but was truly amazed by the selection, quality and price of the goods! Around Japan you will find 100 yen shops which are like dollar stores back home. The difference, is that Daiso (a branded 100 yen shop) is not your average Dollar Tree. They literally have everything from food, to crafting supplies, to dress shirts. Some things are more than a dollar but I haven’t seen anything over $5. In general, the quality is very good for the price and the selection will leave you laughing if nothing else. In fact, just writing about the store has me itching to go back to find more treasures!

The Expat Experience. Truthfully, moving across the world was a bit of a gamble. We had no idea how it would really be once the honeymoon phase wore off and real life began. It has been challenging in ways we did not expect but overall, we could not be happier with expat life to date. In just four short months, not only have our lives completely changed, but we have as well. And in my mind, it is all for the better. We are more adventurous, more patient, and much better travelers than when we left.ristorante-4

Eternal Fall. I felt the same with Summer but it seems as though we’re living in an eternal season of fall. The leaves just really started falling a week or so ago and the weather is just perfect. I know winter is coming but I also know that it won’t be anywhere near what Wisconsin winter is like. Still, I do fear that we’ve already lost any resilience to the real cold of the Midwest and will probably be frozen as soon as we step off the plane in Chicago.

City Living. For the most part, I love living in the city, especially Tokyo. There is always something to see or do even with a toddler in tow. Our apartment location couldn’t be any more convenient with a metro station right outside and 24 hour valet parking at our building. Still, getting around via train or car or taxi just takes a while. I miss walking out my back door, hopping in my car, and being somewhere, anywhere, within 15 minutes. The train is always at least 4o minutes for me because I’m traveling with William, and although traffic isn’t crazy, it goes slow and there are a ton of traffic lights. Having said that, even walking places takes a while due to all the lights and the fact that no one jay walks. People follow rules here and jay walking is illegal…ristorante-3

Christmas Trees. I left all our Christmas decorations, including our tree behind in Milwaukee and yes, I regret it. As we were prepping everything for the move, holiday decor was put on the back burner and eventually, I was just too sick of packing and tired of organizing to even think about it. What a mistake… I’ll get over it eventually, maybe. Anyways, of course you can buy decorations and trees here. I was able to find most of our holiday decor at Daiso, because it’s the store of plenty. But the tree is another issue. A real tree, just a standard size, is extraordinarily expensive ($300 – $500) and then you still need all the accessories, plus there is a disposal fee at the end of the season. We may have just caved and gone real but since we’ll be gone for 2.5 weeks it just didn’t make sense. Then a fake tree would be the easy answer except that we’re still contemplating where to store the monstrosity. So guess what? No tree this year. We did get a great wreath though, just in case any ghosts were planning a visit at midnight on Christmas Eve.

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Language Barrier. It’s not impossible to get around or enjoy Japan without speaking any Japanese. Most signs and the entire metro system are also in English. Hotels speak English and restaurants usually have an English menu or the point and nod works. Still, when you’re actually living here and say, want to return a sweater, it’s frustrating. More so frustrating because we take a language lesson once a week and I still feel like I don’t have the words when I need them.

That’s a wrap for Month Four, thanks for following along and happy holidays! The log will take a break next month as we’ll be gone for half of it but will resume in February with Month 5.

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