(Updated August 15th to add some more of my current feelings.)
Over this coming weekend, I'll reach the halfway point of my time in Osaka. It's also 1/4 of the time I'm allowed to spend in Japan on my Working Holiday Visa.
I've been here 3 months already. Where did it go? Seems like just yesterday that I stumbled, jetlagged and hungry, into a completely new life. A life that involves considerably more food and drink than life back home did. And that's by my personal high standards of gluttony.
So far, this trip's been amazing. Easily the best decision I've ever made. (Becoming a copywriter is a close second, I swear.)
I've seen, done, eaten and bought a hell of a lot. If you've been following my Aji WOW posts, you'll know how hard I've tried to be adventurous when it comes to drinks and snacks. There are hundreds of photos to prove it, maybe getting on for a thousand or so.
I've met loads of great people too. All at once, because they're all friends already. Everybody knows everybody here, as long as 'everybody' is an expat...
When I arrived, I was determined not to get stuck in what's commonly called 'the gaijin bubble'. It's shockingly easy to get around without knowing much Japanese. And surrounding myself with English speakers was never going to do much for my language progress.
I was adamant. No bubble for me.
But how was I to know everyone else in the bubble would be a damn lovely person? There's got to be a reason it's so full, after all.
Sure, maybe I was just homesick and clung to the legs of the first foreigners I met. And as summer hit properly, I fell into the clutches of the dreaded natsubate (夏バテ) - summer fatigue. There's a whole other post about that to come. At lower moments, it's not hard to start chiding myself for just latching on to other people so I didn't have to strike out alone.
By now, I'm still hanging out with people because I genuinely like them. It's not a life support system, just a life. Osaka's not a comfort zone by any means, not even with English on your side.
Knowing who I know has led to unforgettable days and nights. Mostly nights. That's been where working freelance comes in really handy. Oh, we're not going for dinner until midnight? Came out of the bar and it's unexpectedly light outside already? Cool, I'll just have to write more tomorrow afternoon once I've slept it off.
There is not a single second of the last 3 months that I regret. Not even the drunken ones. If I regret anything, it's that this can't/won't last forever. It's going by so fast.
On Sunday, the clock starts ticking for my next 3 months. It'll probably go just as quickly - and then on to the next adventure, whatever that might be.