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Enya

Life Lessons for an English Teacher

It’s been months since I arrived in Japan and in those short months, I came to discover and realize A LOT of things not just about this beautiful country but life in general. In this blog, I will be sharing with you five of the most significant life lessons Japan has taught me so far.

1. “Life isn’t perfect but your hair can be.”

Let me just get one thing straight, I am and will never be a “morning person.” And for that simple reason, there have been countless of times when I had to leave the house looking unacceptable. To be honest, I really didn’t care much about it until I started living in Japan. I’ve been working here for a while now but up to this very moment, it still amazes me how Japanese people put great effort on keeping themselves tidy and presentable at all times. From the men’s sharp-looking business suits to the women’s snazzy hairstyles, I just couldn’t help but appreciate Japanese people’s sense of style. Physical appearance may not be the most significant thing in the world but I think the way one carries himself in public still speaks a lot about the kind of person he is. I may not be as stylish as the women around here but I will  for sure “try” to look my best as much as possible.

2. “Eating is a necessity but cooking is an art.”

Whenever people ask me what I miss most about the Philippines, I only have one answer– FOOD! In fact, I would usually spend most of my free time just daydreaming of barbecue and unlimited chicken wings (I’m not kidding!). Don’t get me wrong, Japan offers a lot of mouth-watering dishes as well, although it may cost you a bit more just to have a taste of authentic Japanese cuisine. So to solve my cravings and stinginess, I’ve decided to resort to the one thing I’ve always failed at– cooking. It was a struggle at first but I could say that I’m now slowly getting the hang of it. I learned that aside from salt and pepper, another very important ingredient for a delicious dish is patience, lots and lots of patience. Although it’s never wrong to treat yourself sometimes, it’s still good to try something new once in a while and enjoy something you know you’ve worked hard for.

3.“The time goes by faster than you imagine.”

Maybe you’ve all heard of the saying, “Time flies so fast when you’re having fun.” However, in Japan, whether it’s a hectic or a boring day, time still goes by in a blink of an eye. Now I understand why every second counts for Japanese people because you can easily lose it without you even noticing. You may find it convenient at times, especially when you just want a bad day to end. But if you’re someone who’s always trying to reach deadlines, it may not be as beneficial. In my case, I learned to treasure time more than ever. For me, time may just be numbers on my watch but for some people, time means meeting an important person, or income to provide for their family, or simply an opportunity to enjoy the things they love to do. As for me, I just need to learn to make use of my time wisely and enjoy “every second” of being here.

4.“With languages, you are at home anywhere.”

If you ask me what the hardest part of living in Japan is, it would be, without a doubt, the language barrier. To be honest, I used to think that I could easily get by without learning Japanese but time, once again, has proven me wrong. I also thought that knowing some few basic words was all I need to survive the “outside world” but now, I feel like it’s more than just survival. The fact that I can’t relate or connect with the people around me, that’s what distresses me the most. I want to be able to interact with others by not just using hand gestures and get to explore the country without limitations. I know it’s going to be a long journey before I can finally be well versed in the Japanese language. But as what I always tell my students, it’s better to take things one step at a time and have fun while learning.

5.“A man who masters patience, masters everything else.”

Although Japan is probably one of the best things that ever happened to me, I do admit that life can also be tough sometimes here. No matter where you are, there will always be people and circumstances that will push you to your limits. It can be as simple as the rush hour in the morning or as complicated as a difficult person you have to deal with everyday. But of course, I’m not new to these things anymore. Yes, there were moments when I almost lost it but I’m always reminded of why I’m even here in the first place. A lot of people think that working abroad simply equals to making more money but it’s not as easy as that. In order to reach success, you must go through all the hardships first. You just have to be patient and wise enough to know that everything will pay off in the end.

My time in Japan is not even close to ending and I’m looking forward to more discoveries and realizations. What are some of the life lessons you’d like to share?