Part 4: You will fall in love.
Moving abroad can be a fresh start or the continuation of an adventure you had already started. It is something you can do alone or with a friend or partner. You can live somewhere alone or share your accommodation with someone else. You can enjoy your time abroad, or not and return home sooner than you expected.
One thing I am certain everyone will, regardless of how long they spend living abroad, in some form, is fall in love. Fall in love with a new place, activity, or person.
Firstly, it is much easier to fall in love with a new place. I grew up in the beauty of Devon, regularly visiting the beach or moorland. After this I moved to Manchester, experiencing urban convenient living at its finest. So on moving to Japan, I knew I would like exploring new places, but I didn’t expect to fall in love with new places. I thought that I had already seen a lot of beauty and so it wouldn’t have that much impact on me. But, as it turns out, it did! Now I can’t get enough of walks on our local beach and hikes on hills. Perhaps it was turning thirty, or perhaps it was simply having my eyes opened to beautiful new places. It is safe to say that I love the nature and countryside Japan has to offer.
I have also come to appreciate animals in nature more. I had never realised how they were missing in my life before Japan. In fact, when I arrived here I couldn’t get over the missing songbirds, and how empty that made my mornings feel. Now I hear the different tunes of different birds. The ones that sound like laughs always make me smile. I am lucky to live near the ocean which means a wealth of Eagle Hawks scouting nearby for their next tasty fish meal. There is something so incredibly powerful about watching a bird swoop into the water, rising with its prize clamped in its beak. I am now fortunate enough to see this on a regular basis. Not to mention the Koi Carp in our local rivers and in the summertime my mates, the Turtles.
Secondly, it is likely you will find yourself doing new activities you didn’t do before you lived abroad. Dan and I now enjoy regular Kyudo, or Japanese archery. This is probably just a hobby for Japan, but we will always enjoy looking back on those times we hit the target! (Or the roof…) I think my future self will always enjoy dabbling with flower arrangement. Something I never thought I would do under the age of 50…I hope I will keep running. And I know I will keep on writing, because I have discovered a love of writing I never thought a person with dyslexia could enjoy. I get an immense enjoyment out of writing, regardless of whether my words will ever be read by anyone other than me! This has even extended to dabbling with the odd Haiku…
Thirdly, I have met many people who have fallen in love during their time living abroad. Some are now married and others are planning their lives together. Sometimes you will meet like-minded people when you move somewhere, and it is often inevitable that you will connect with people. The same can be said for the friendships people make. Admittedly, lots of people come and go, so some friendships may be fleeting. But then there are others where you know that you will continue to share your stories with each other long after you leave your temporary foreign home. For some, these are big friendship groups, for others, a few good friends.
For Dan and I, we have fallen in love with each other all over again. Moving here was tough (see lesson one) and it is fair to say that it took an emotional toll. I had my first ever panic attack in those first few lonely months during our Japanese winter of 2016 / 2017. Through this, Dan and I stuck together, exploring this new place, dealing with any doubts and insecurities we had together. The result was us pulling even closer together, coming out on this side of our journey here, more supportive and happy than we were at the start. We used to say the world was ours for the taking and partly mean it, whilst giving each other nervous side glances to check we were on the same page. But now, side by side, we know it is ours for the taking and we are holding hands and jumping forth!