Usually when I tell somebody that I'm going to Japan, they have a friend or family member who has already done the same. Usually I'm told that it was an amazing experience, worthwhile, fantastic, eye-opening, life-changing, etc. I'm always glad to hear that, of course.
Yet, I also get my fair share of less positive responses. Some people look at me like I'm crazy. Some people immediately embark upon vicarious horror stories of exchanges gone wrong and overseas teaching adventures much regretted. I don't mind these stories too much, as it's probably good to keep my fantastical imagination grounded in coloured reality and accept that there WILL be challenges, or even the possibility of immense difficulty. Something could go wrong, though the fine repute of this particular exchange program should preclude any major financial or contractual mishaps.
Wo. I need to sound way less pompous in my writing. Sorry, I've been reading Herman Hesse, who uses so many striking words and poetically crafted sentences; my years of training at University have poked many holes in my brain to turn it into a sponge that absorbs and spits out other peoples ideas and, apparently, writing styles. Not that I'm comparing my writing ability to Hesse. Ok, digression complete, back to J-Spot concerns.
What's worse than these horror stories, however, are the random warnings with no background context. For example, 'they'll treat you like crap.' Or, 'you'll lose yourself out there.' What else, hmmm. 'If life's not good enough for you here...' (and yes, somehow they included a ... in their spoken warning.)
In all these cases, I'm not sure if the people are xenophobic, or speaking from personal bad experiences, or what. All I know is the random warnings - threats almost - really frustrate me. I'm trying to be openminded, and I'm trying to accept advice and info from anybody who offers (just as a general practice in life). But that means every once and a while I'm confronted by some fearful and bigotted statement that just makes me angry/disappointed in the speaker, while at the same time ever so slightly increases my own anxieties.
I just got another warning tonight about the Japanese mafia coming after me. See, I didn't really take it seriously, or personally, but I still had to unwillingly absorb some of the negativity and fear couched in this ridiculous statement.
I'm not sure what I'm trying to accomplish with this. I want people to tell me what they've heard and what I should expect but I don't need their negativity and fear, especially when it's based on no experience whatsoever. The whole POINT is to lose myself out there, to be squashed by whatever I encounter, in order to see how I truly shape up, in order to find myself. (sorry about the cheesy line). (and sorry about ending on a chessy line).