Then and now: Things I’ve learned in moving to another country

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It’s May. Damn.

It’s actually the end of May and I’m realizing that I haven’t posted on here in some time.

The last time you heard from me, I was talking something bout buying gifts for your travel-minded family member or distant friend. Wowzers!

Anyway…In case you’ve been wondering, I’ve been busy getting my life together and preparing to move to another country. Yes, you read right! We’re moving away from Japan to Ethiopia! (No worries, I’ll probably back date a post or two about that dark and desolate time in my life later on)

But as I’m packing away my 50 square meter apartment here in Tokyo, I’m thinking about how much more on top of things I am now than I was before. When I moved from Philly, I ended up calling a moving company to come and haul everything away for me just days before I left. But here I am in Japan nearly 2 years later. The shipping company is coming in a few days and I’m basically all packed up, most of my furniture is gone, and I’ve been eating bento meals from conbini because I sold my refrigerator last week.

As chaotic as things are right now, I’m taking some time out to reflect on some things I’ve learned in this process, particularly with the whole moving process. I’ll get sentimental when we officially leave Japan June 22. Till then, here are some things I’ve learned during this time:

I hate moving. I actually knew this about myself, but I am reminded of this every time I have to do it. It’s not even really the packing and sorting through stuff that irks me. I mean, it does. But not nearly as much as realizing how much shit I’ve accumulated or how much useless crap I’ve brought from my previous house to my new residence. I realized that I brought all the way from Philly to Japan this friendship bracelet kit that I impulsively bought at Target before leaving. I can’t even remember why I decided to do that, but I have yet to make one damn bracelet and yet I sit here debating whether or not to throw it away. I hate moving because it highlights my hoarding tendencies and forces me to see this ugly side of myself.

There are so many rules. When I moved from Philly, I could have tossed so much in the garbage or left it outside and someone would have claimed it as their own. I’ve done this many times and decorated my house with discarded items. But in Japan, you have to make an appointment with your Ward Office and tell them the items you want to leave out, schedule a time for them to come get it, and then go to the convenience store and purchase these stickers so that they can pick it up. Even if you trash something, “the people” go through it and deem your bag of freezer foods that you didn’t eat before you sold your fridge has to be specially picked up by some special discarded food division of Japan. It’s irritating.

I’m also trying to ship my items to Ethiopia and there are rules to that, too! Itemized lists of what’s in what box, no food, or tea, or alcohol or you run the risk of it being scanned and then “the people” will have to dig it out and you will have to pay for them search for your contraband. I admittedly packed up my teas and non-perishables and then I decided against it because I’d be the unlucky one that gets caught while they are trying to find my hidden jar of Trader Joes Dulce de Leche.

I hate selling shit on Craigslist. This has always been true. But now I don’t have a car and people want me to try to ride the train to meet them with the item at their transfer station. It’s even more irritating when they try to hustle you down to nothing and THEN have the audacity to ask you to deliver it as well?!?

Even trying to sell things on Facebook gets frustrating because people are crazy. Some dude wanted to buy a $5 plant from me. I told him that I didn’t get home until after 4 on a certain day and he took that as “be at my house at 4”. I wasn’t home yet. So he called me several times and then spammed every post that I had on the Facebook garage sale page. Really?!? So I just ended all that drama and called the Recycle place to come get everything. But THEN these mickie fickies are like “we’re gonna have to charge you $100 to take your couch”. WHAT? Like, I pay you to take a couch that you’re going to in turn sell? Nah, son.

I hate moving. I’m just reminded of that again as I look around my messy room and loads of boxes that need to be repacked. Carry on.

I am incredibly organized when I need to be. Not always. I don’t even really like to be. But when I have a deadline and people coming to take things away it forces me to get things into gear. Blast music and dance around the room as I pack up boxes and toss the majority of a t-shirt collection that should have never come to Japan in the first place.

I’ve made itemized packing lists and consolidated things to make better use of the space and even sorted boxes according to where they are to go in my new house. Okay, that last one was a lie. But I have been super organized and know what is in what box. Unlike when I moved from Philly, I had no idea what was in those suitcases until I was able to take everything out.

I feel like those small people in Fraggle Rock, the Doozers, are inside my head working steadily toward some prolific end goal with their little hard hats and grunting work-like sounds. I push and sort and organize my way through the maze of boxes and random items I haven’t seen since I moved here. Their persistence is my motivation until I sit back, pleased at the open space in my floor. Evidence of my hard work.

Then other days I am a Fraggle. Longing for a 30 minute work week to spend the rest of my time to play and do other things of enjoyment. Often, I destroy my hard work remembering I need something I previously packed and go looking for it within the boxes. I have found this is what happens when I pack too early.

I hate going away parties. I have them for the boy. He likes closure and those kinds of things. He also likes the attention. I, on the other hand, do not. Sometimes it’s good. Nice to see people you haven’t in a while and you moving to another country being the reason they decided to connect with you one last time. What I don’t like are the empty promises to keep in touch or, worse, visit you in your new host country. Don’t lie to me. Just say you’ll message occasionally on Facebook and keep it real.

Nevertheless, I always end up getting a little sentimental. Always on the plane when it’s really over. I feel like I’m breaking up with Japan. A relationship that had so much potential, but we just weren’t a good fit.

And now, like most of my relationships that end unfavorably, I want to get as far away from it as possible.

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Then and Now: Things I've Learned Moving To Another Country

One thought on “Then and now: Things I’ve learned in moving to another country

  1. Oh, I love this post! My boyfriend and I are probably going to move to another country in about a year and I always wonder how other people do and feel about it. My guess is that I’m exactly the same as you, haha.


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