Engineering Manager | Trail Runner | Stockholm, Sweden

If I had my way

A lot of people replied to my ‘State of SeSam address‘ for which I am thankful. I completely agree with most of the comments, especially since I too think that staying home wouldn’t have been necessarily better. In fact, if I look back, the reason why I even tried and accepted the scholarship back then was my need to be different. I don’t think of myself as the person who’d be satisfied with doing the same thing the majority of his peers do. I don’t mean it in the cliché be yourself way, more like I dread being boring and ordinary.

Had I stayed home and finished university there I’d probably be complaining about my dull life, my nine to five job and the horrendous payments on my mortgage. And I’d be convinced that I wasted my good years without doing anything interesting.

I fondly remember the moment when I watched The Family Stone and I realised that everything Meredith was saying about her time in Hong Kong I experienced. I knew all the locations she mentioned. And also – unlike Everett, who confessed his regret about never getting around to it – I shared meal with the monks in their uphill monastery. I could have missed all that.

(I’d swear I already wrote about this but none of the keywords resulted in any hits in the archives. Should I be repeating myself, please accept my sincerest apologies. My brain is getting old.)

On the other hand, who am I kidding. There is nothing special about studying abroad, not even in Japan. I also can’t think of anything I can do better than anyone else. Much as I like to brag about it the only time I’ve been outside Japan was the aforementioned trip to HK. And no matter how much I tinker with computers I don’t think I qualify for being a geek even. So what should I be proud of?

It’s all ambivalent. I can’t decide if I really am the worthy person I like to think myself to be or it’s all just deluded arrogance and I embarrass myself by even hinting it.

Anyway, I don’t think I’m alone with my view of the country though. Just this week I bumped into two kohais on my way home. We talked about being in Japan. They said the exact same things I usually bring up: complained about the impossibility of making friends with the Japanese, the lack of understanding, the latent inhospitality. One of them expressed his wish of  transferring to Osaka due to the more foreigner-friendly credit point system. Seemingly the really comfortable scholarship cannot counterbalance the instilled depression. ‘I wouldn’t mind staying for Master’s if life here was any good.’ I was told.

I admit I’m not the most tolerant and open of all people, but I’m not just making up the Japan I write about.

As for my last couple of months I don’t think I will have too many opportunities. Without the steady influx of scholarship I’ll probably have to restrict my expenses to (cheap) food. That removes any chance of travel unless I walk or ride the bicycle. As a fail-safe plan I am taking boatloads of classes so even if I end up failing a bunch I’d still gather enough credits to graduate. Which means even less free time than I used to have. The area is also teeming with native speakers of English who are all per definitionem more desirable for a teaching job than me.

To finish the title, I’d burn this whole building down.