The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

After the last vlog I took, I've sort of put my camera away for a few days, for a few reasons. I've been feeling pretty ill since arriving in Japan, which I'll chalk up to the changing weather and jet lag, however I've also not been in a 'vlogging' mood. 

In this post I'm going to detail some good and bad experiences I've had in Japan so far, some of which are exclusive to foreigners. Warning, this post is long. 

Mini disclaimer: This is simply my expierence after living here for a few days. There is no doubt in my mind that my opinions can and will change over time~!

The Good

I've found Japan's strict trash regime to be a really refreshing wakeup call to how much paper and plastic I use, and how I use to usually discard something without a care. At the bottom of the staircase on the ground floor of my apartment there are several trash bins with various labels on it such as 'PET Bottles' (aka water bottles) and 'Combustible'. I now pay more attention to my garbage than I ever have before, and I kind of like it.

I really enjoy the trains here. They are on time, affordable, relatively easy to understand, and very clean. I can travel tons of places and only spend like 200 yen on my ticket. I also really like the train pass cards such as Pasmo or Suica. I can just scan when I get on, scan when I get off, and charge the card as I need to. Not only that, but I have to admit that I feel cool when I just touch my wallet to the scanner and it reads my card. Lastly, the AC is a blessing in the heat.

Restaurant prices for full meals are relatively cheap compared to NY. I can get a decently sized meal for under $10. I go to a local place called 'Mama Kimchi' for Korean food, and I can get Kimchi fried rice (sans egg) with two side dishes for 800 yen. Also, Japan doesn't have a tipping culture, so I don't have to worry about that at all.

I love the style. Japanese stores take pride in their decor, and I love being surrounded by incredibly stylish restaurants, clothing stores and cafes. I will often see themed cafes or stores that painstakingly decorate their windows to attract customers. A lot of up and coming cafes have either that woodsy homey vibe or a very millennial, black and white with plants chic that's popular on Instagram. I love both those styles, and I get to expierence them a lot more than I did back in suburban NY.

I actually enjoy the language barrier I encounter in my everyday life because it helps me fill in the gaps in my Japanese. I've found myself downloading dictionary apps and keeping a notebook on me at all times to write down new words I encounter.

The Bad

Despite living in this bustling city, Tokyo, I find that I've never felt more alone. This is my first time living on my own, and so I knew some loneliness would come with the territory, however I could have never imagined that I feel how I feel now. I went to a cafe today to have dinner, since my groceries haven't come yet, and I sat alone and ate my food. Sitting there, eating in silence as I watched others chat with their tablemates, I can't really describe what I felt. I ate, paid and got out as soon as possible. I think this loneliness will fade as I build up confidence as someone living alone, but for now it hangs over me everytime I go shopping alone, eat alone, or come home to an empty room.

I'm spending a lot of money. Okay, this one isn't really about Japan so much as it's about living alone and stocking up on stuff. It's hard enough to make the initial investment in getting things like furniture or appliances for your place, but it's even worse when you know you're only going to be there for a short amount of time. Since I won't be able to take anything I buy here back with me, I'm making an effort to get the absolute cheapest things I can, however I still feel like I'm spending (and wasting) a lot of money, and the guilt is unshakeable. 

I tend to feel out of place. Perhaps this is because I'm alone, but a part of me feels like I don't really fit in or belong. I also think this is due to the fact I'm a foreigner. The past times I've been to Japan I've been okay with, even embraced, this feeling, but right now it makes me feel very 'othered'. I'm not sure how to shake it, and I know it's just something I have to get used to.

The weather is very hot and humid, even though it's September. I'm a naturally sweaty person in the summer and I really do not enjoy looking shiny and feeling hot.

Because I don't have a car or bike, I have to carry everything by hand. Meaning I can't have more than two bags of groceries because I have to lug everything back to my place. Because of this, I ended up ordering a good amount of food from Costco Japan, which will be shipped to me hopefully very soon.

The Ugly

I'm sure most Japanese people have some expierence with this, but two nights ago there was a roach in my apartment. I have no idea when or how it got in, but it was sitting there right in the middle of my floor. I threw my slipper at it and killed it, but then I struggled to clean it up and put it in the trash. 

Usually my dad or boyfriend would 'take care of it' when there was a bug, but being alone in this situation and doing this myself for the first time, I burst into uncontrollable tears. It was a mixture of loneliness, fear of the bug, and disgust for the situation. 

After several failed attempts to clean the bug up, and probably hearing my cries from next door, my neighbor came and saved the day. I thanked him with my tear stricken face, thoroughly embarrassing myself at 12 am. I thought that was the end to my terror. I was wrong.

Not less than 10 minutes later I noticed another roach. Again, I threw my slipper, but this time I was more annoyed than afraid. I dropped a wet paper towel on the bug, used two pieces of plastic to scoop it up, and threw it away.

Now I was looking for bugs. I called my boyfriend and decided to head for the convenience store to buy some bug spray to arm myself. This was around 1 am. I asked the man at the counter if they had roach spray, but sadly the store was not stocked. 

I returned home empty handed, only to see the biggest bug I have ever seen in my life (about as long as my pointer finger and black as night with WINGS), wandering around the corner of the room. At this point I was angry, my apartment was infested with bugs! 

I headed upstairs and knocked on my landlords door, and informed them that there was a bug issue. The landlords daughter came downstairs with me, and now the big bug was on the ceiling crawling around. As it crawled, it made a small scratching noise that made me shudder. After a few minutes, it fell off the wall and unto my table, then unto the floor, and the landlord's daughter sprayed it with bug spray for 10 seconds straight. 
Alas, it was dead, and she cleaned it up for me. However, the damage was done. I was now afraid of staying in my apartment, for fear of another bug. She gave me the bug spray and promised that tomorrow she would get repellant, and tried to keep me as calm as she could. Honestly, she was really kind about the entire situation. 

Bug spray by my bedside, I stayed up until 5 am, watching the floor like a hawk to find any critters. I knocked out from exhaustion and woke up 4 hours later, and continued to watch for bugs.


All in all, I'm trying to not only adjust to life alone but also to life in a foreign country, and it's a bigger plate than I thought I was taking on. As time goes on, I'll become stronger, wiser and hopefully happier! That's not to say I'm not happy right now, but adjusting has put a bit of a damper on my initial excitement. 

Tonight I made my first meal, and it helped me feel a lot more comfortable in my own space. I know as time goes on I'll continue to grow and acclimate to my new life here!!!

Hopefully I'll have another vlog up soon, or at least some photos to share~