I had hoped to finish another vlog today but thanks to a dead battery and an errant bell that will have to be on the schedule for tomorrow.
So today I thought I’d take the time today to talk about lifestyle.
One thing I’ve learned from my years of travel overseas is that people inevitably miss their home.
Most people are born and raised in one area which becomes not only home to them, but a place of comfort and understanding.
Things make sense. We understand our surroundings. We know the people and we know the language.
I grew up in England in a small town called Stoke-on-Trent (Underline), or at least that’s all I have any memory of.
It was a quiet area, mainly houses and a few shops; a drugstore, a newspaper stand, a hairdresser and if I remember correctly a small cafe plus a few others. Across the main street there was a small supermarket and that was pretty much all there was.
It wasn’t much, but it was home.
When I found out we were moving to the Philippines I simply accepted it. I was a kid and had no idea what that entailed.
I think the worst part of the preparation were the shots. The malaria shot being particularly rough on my body.
But before I knew it, I was whisked away to a new land.
I still remember getting off the plane and walking into a wall of heat, but I quickly learned to adjust.
I suppose that was one of the things I always loved about the Philippines – the weather.
Being able to swim all year round was something I never got tired of.
And when you’ve got places like Cebu and Palawan to explore, it truly is a joy. I will never forget my snorkeling experiences there – simply stunning.
Another thing you get used to quickly living in the Far East is having a maid. That might sound like I’m bragging, but I assure you weren’t wealthy at the time; in fact it was tough for us.
Sure the weather was nice, and we had a maid but my father worked out in the countryside so I only saw him on weekends.
At the time we couldn’t get the foods we were accustomed to eating. Lamb for instance, was only available at the high-end restaurants. Potato chips and candy selection were limited. No toys that I wanted nor any comics.
Then we had to deal with blackouts from time to time as well as sporadic TV.
I was even made fun of at school for having “an accent” and I had trouble making friends at first.
And yet, 6 years later when I was told we would be moving again, I was sad because I had just started to really like it there. It had become my home.
Bangkok was my next port of call. And the first year was tough.
The traffic was rough and yet again I had a steep learning curve. Finding things I had gotten accustomed to in the Philippines became a new challenge, but slowly I got used to my surroundings.
My second year there was when things started turning around.
And I accredit this to one simple thing – a friend, my best friend in fact.
My father even noticed the change in me.
I was excited about going out. I was eager to head over to my friend’s house. I made an effort to learn about all that Thailand had to offer.
And guess what, when I graduated the toughest thing was knowing that soon I’d be leaving my home again for the 3rd time.
Claremont, California was where I would call home most of the next 5 years, at a small college (Pitzer) with only 800 students.
And while I made friends quickly this time, I really started to fully enjoy life there my third year in. (although I loved my freshman year intensely thanks to some good friends)
The same can be said with Japan, which has been my home now for going on 16 years.
The point is this – it’s not where you live, it’s how you approach where you live. Or in other words, ATTITUDE.
Attitude was the difference between me enjoying and not enjoying myself in each of those places.
Looking back I know that each place had its own charm.
England was quaint and peaceful with lovely countryside (and fantastic scones). The Philippines had lovely weather, incredible houses and world-class beaches (probably the best I’ve ever seen). Thailand was vibrant and alive with some incredible theaters and malls, not to mention safe. America had nature, freedom, space and shops. And each of these places took turns being my home.
Today Osaka’s my home. What do I love about Japan – the people, the food and the safety.
Sure, each place had its faults. They’re easy to find when you look for them…and believe me I did, for years, but over time, I began to see the good.
Now I’m no longer a kid. I’m 37 and have seen a lot, done a lot.
Life is too short to spending complaining about what I don’t have, instead I choose to spend my time appreciating all I do have.
Sure, there are times when bad things happen…but make no mistake about it, bad things happen everywhere, not just in foreign lands.
Brush them off. Earl Nightingale is famous for saying that our environment is simply a reflection of how we approach it.
In other words, the law of cause and effect is in 100% control.
What we give out, is what we get back (in kind). Shout at people, and it’s no wonder people ignore us or shout back.
On the flip-side, smile and see what comes back.
I’ve learned that I can live anywhere. All I need is a good attitude (and good friends).