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10 ways moving to Japan has changed my daily life

General Updates, JapanKristina Pino7 Comments

Besides the obvious trans-Pacific, living abroad, different culture sort of deal that comes with moving to another country, there are pretty basic things that have changed about my daily life as a direct result of moving to Japan. This isn't to say that the changes are unique to Japan and wouldn't have happened anywhere else, but these all directly relate to situations I've been put into here that I never was back in Miami.

Read on below.

1) I squeegee my bathroom every day

Because mold is a problem (ventilation issues), keeping my apartment nice and dry is pretty much a red alert-level priority. That includes the bathroom after I shower, so I keep a squeegee in there and wipe that sucker down every single night. After wiping it down, I turn on the drying fan built into it to really make sure it's perfectly dry.

2) I brush my teeth at my workstation after lunch each day

This one's a "mileage will vary" situation for some, because I realize there are many people who brush 3+ times a day regardless of where they live. In my case, I used to just chew some Orbit for 20 minutes after lunch and get on with my day. Now, I keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in the bag I take with me to work, and brush at my desk after lunch along with all my other co-workers and students. Everyone does this. Together. We bond.

3) Gotta have my green tea with lunch

Before moving to Japan, and even before visiting Japan for the first time a few years ago, I didn't ever like green tea. I didn't like any hot teas at all, and cold green tea still tastes awful to me. When I first started working at my school, I was always served some hot green tea with lunch. At first, I forced it down to be polite. Then I got used to it. Now it's just something that goes. Lunch time? Where's my green tea?

4) The first thing I do each morning is look out the window and check how sunny it is

If it's a clear, sunny day, that means I can air out some of my clothes and bedding and kill whatever might be creepin' in the stitching. The paranoia of mold runs that deep - I don't feel good about my things if I don't lay them out in the sun every once in a while.

5) Eat all of the pork

Before moving to Japan, it'd been years since I ate any pork. I'd gotten sick of it when I was a kid, and have spent most of my life completely grossed out by the idea of eating pork, even though pork is kind of a way of life with Cubans. Pork is an integral part of Japanese cuisine though, and it's tossed into everything, including the "vegetarian" bentou lunch at one of my local bentou shops (seriously?). Now we're cool. But just cool. I don't go out of my way for pork. I just got tired of the opposite: trying to actively dodge it.

6) My umbrella (and/or backup umbrella) goes with me everywhere

The last time I came to Japan, I "misplaced" (forgot, donated) three umbrellas because I was not accustomed to carrying one. In Miami, I drove a car and just kept a couple in there as needed, and that was the end of it. In Japan, I don't have a car, and when I have to plan my entire day, I need to consider whether I'll need an umbrella. It isn't just about keeping dry in the case of rain, it's also about making some shade in case I end up having to spend more time than necessary out in the sun. I'm actually kind of shocked that I never had this issue in Miami.

7) Always carry cash

Relying on a credit card and carrying minimal cash around (if any) are a thing of the past. Though I'm used to it now, I don't like it at all. I don't really worry about my wallet being stolen or whatever, but it just always feels like cash disappears faster than my invisible money would since credit card transactions require that extra step of signing to make sure you know how much you're about to spend.

8) I haven't worn perfume in months

I didn't even bring any with me. Folks just don't douse themselves in cologne or body splash around here. And because of that, I'm becoming rather sensitive to it. Whenever someone passes me by who just dabbed a little cologne or spritzed a little fruity spray that morning, I'm already drowning in the fumes. Perfumed person sits next to me on the train? I'm sick to my stomach.

9) I carry tissues and hand towels everywhere

It's getting better, but in general everyone carries around tissues for various reasons, including the obvious need to blow one's nose or wipe accidents, and the less obvious (to foreigners) precaution against lack of toilet paper in public toilets. I haven't really had an issue with that lately, though a few years ago it was a miracle I ever saw any TP while I was out, so maybe that's just a deep-rooted paranoia I developed in a short time. The hand towel is still essential, though, since not all bathrooms will have paper towels or a hand drier for after you rinse your hands. Bonus points if you keep an extra little towel to wipe your sweat.

10) Being on time really means being on time 

Though being a professional anywhere you go means being on time, the casual life in Miami runs on "Cuban Time." Everything occurs "around" whatever the set time is. In Japan, "around" is never anything but the exact time given, whether it's professional or social. And if, in many cases, you aren't actually early, you may miss out altogether. I've already missed too many trains and been "late" (arrived at the designated time, but 10 minutes after the others, for example) to more appointments than I can count. So, yeah, that's a new thing I'm still getting used to, months later.

And that's my list. Yay! Anyway, like I mentioned above, these aren't all necessarily specific to living in Japan, but because of my move here, they've affected my life directly. At least half of these wouldn't even be a factor if I'd moved out on my own in Miami. Ok, actually, probably none of these would have affected my daily life in Miami.

Did anything weird affect your life on a basic, daily level when you moved out on your own?