Posted in From Kentucky

How You Can Support Muslims and Refugees in Kentucky

Needless to say, I disagree with both the Muslim travel ban and the executive ordered refusal of refugees into the United States. As such, I want to endeavor to help those who are in need of aid.

Luckily, there has been a stay on the executive order that allows legal Muslim citizens to return to the U.S., but what about when they return to a country that has seemingly targeted them as enemies? Refugees who will feel isolated and cut off from home? There are things we Americans, and specifically Kentuckians, can do to help them.

Contacting Politicians

Having our voices heard is a vital part of our democracy. Governor Matt Bevin needs to hear the stories and know that people care enough to call. If you disagree with the ban and the turning away of refugees, call him at (502) 564-2611. If you have Twitter, his handle is @GovMattBevin. He also has a Facebook page to which you can send messages. You can also send mail to:

700 Capitol Avenue
Suite 100
Frankfort, KY 40601

If you’re not a citizen of Kentucky, you can go to Refugee Council USA to find contact information for your state governor and legislators. They have a sample script for phone calls that you can use:

Sample Script: “I’m your constituent from [City, State], and I support refugee resettlement in the U.S. I am strongly opposed to President Trump’s decision to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees, pause the refugee resettlement program, and reduce the number of refugees we welcome. This discriminatory announcement is morally reprehensible, runs counter to who we are as a nation, and does not reflect the welcome for refugees I see in my community every day. I urge you to do everything in your power to see this announcement reversed.”

As well advice for tweeting out to Presdient Trump and your state representative.

Tweet @realDonaldTrump, @POTUS, and @ your Senators/Representatives: “.@[HANDLE], my community stands w/ ALL refugees! Support refugee resettlement & reject discrimination! #RefugeesWelcome”

One of the best ways to make your voice heard is by sending the White House a message via Facebook message at Facebook.com/WhiteHouse or submit an electronic message at whitehouse.gov/contact.

Help Refugees in Your Area

There are four refugee resettlement agencies in Kentucky. In the Louisville and Lexington area, we have Kentucky Refugee Ministries Inc.  KRM seeks put employers to make employment services. Over 200+ Kentucky employers hire refugees, and they help refugees support their families in their new lives. There is also a call for volunteers, perhaps by “tutoring kids after school, practicing English with adults, or helping someone find their first job in the U.S.” However, do be aware that there is an application process, so please be patient with the organizations if they don’t return your queries to help right away.

Two really interesting ideas from the site are writing welcome cards to refugees and showing support through multi-lingual signs. Since the order bars refugees from arriving for 120 days, you can write cards or letters “for those families who are already here and for those who will arrive after the suspension is lifted. On the cards, you can write welcome in different languages. Get the kids involved by drawing pictures and adding stickers. Drop them off at KRM or deliver them to [KRM] offices so staff can get them into the hands of refugee families.” It’s a nice little gesture that might not change the world, but it could mean the world to one family.

KRM suggests putting up “a sign of welcome in multiple languages outside your home or business showing your support for your neighbors to see.” The link above is for the PDF versions of the various multilingual signs. After all, America has no official language, no official religion, and we shouldn’t be banning anyone based on religion or creed.

On there you can also sign the Kentucky-wide petition calling to keep Kentucky welcoming. The petition is organized as part of KRM’s coalition organizing a statewide event, the fourth annual Refugee and Immigrant Day at the Capitol on February 16th at the capitol Frankfort.

In the Bowling Green and Owensboro area, we have the International Center of Kentucky. They provide many of the same services as KRM, including helping refugees find employment, legal aides, translation services, and so on. You can apply to be an individual volunteer, but there is the option to do group volunteer activities as well.

The International Center has a Mentor system, wherein you can apply to help a specific refugee family get back on their feet. The application process is a little more rigorous than the volunteer one, so please be aware of that. However, if you live in these areas and wish to help, fill out the application in the link above. If you have any questions about the mentor program, you can call or visit one of the offices below.

Bowling Green Office
806 Kenton Street,
Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101
P: (270) 781-8336
F: (270) 781-8136

Owensboro Office:
2818 New Hartford Road, Entrance N
Owensboro, Kentucky 42303
P: (270) 683-3423
F: (270) 683-3425

For those looking for refugee aid centers and resettlement organizations, here is the list of refugee resettlement agencies by state. Please, find the one close to you and offer your support to help keep services for refugees to continue rebuilding their lives.

Give Donations

In Kentucky, there are various ways you can give. KRM has a donation page that requests for both donation items and funds. The donation items are helpful in refugees starting a new life, and the funds will be helping KRM to assist refugees in the state. The Int. Center of KY also have an easy donation page where you send support them via PayPal.

If you want a site that’s multi-lingual, then head over to the Refugee Center Online. It has up to date information on the ban and what refugees can do now to protect their status. You can also donate to the Refugee Center here.

For these organizations, every little bit helps. Please consider giving to help those who really need it right now.

If you can’t do everything, do what you can. Take some time on Saturday to help someone learn English. If you can’t volunteer, send some blankets or preserved food. Give just $5 to one of these organizations. Take a moment to lambaste a governor or a president on your lunch break. Or just put up a sign that you’re in solidarity with the freedoms America was founded upon, and tell the world you stand on the right side of history. Past, present, and future.

Posted in cultural differences, flashback friday

Flashback Friday: Christmas LIES!!!

Before we go any further, I feel the need to explain that Christmas isn’t as near and dear to me as Halloween. That being said it’s definitely the second favorite, and for reasons that are quite beyond me, I always get irrational when people who aren’t from America try to tell me how Christmas in America “actually is.”

LISTEN HERE, I am American, I am a Kentuckian, so don’t try to spread these LIES on my watch you KENTUCKY FRIED LUNATICS!


MERRY KENTUCKY FRIED CHRISTMAS LIES!!! AND OTHER CULTURAL CHRISTMAS DIFFERENCES

Once upon a time, I’m innocently gallivanting through the Aeon Mall in Narita with my good friend, Ai. We’re checking out different stores, and I’m squealing like a ten year old at every little cute thing in the huge shopping area. Basically, I was squealing at everything. Japan is full of cuteness, that makes me happy.

Anyway, just as we’re swinging through the last bit of mall, I catch sight of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in a food court. I remembered that I promised someone I would look at the price of their Christmas bundle of grease, so I walked over there with Ai to find it.

You see, in Japan people can’t get turkey. Turkey is hard to find, and if you find the bird it is really expensive. Instead of turkey, Kentucky Fried Chicken is used as a replacement.

Most foreigners find this tradition a little baffling, since Christmas usually also implies all the food is cooked by a grandmother or mother. Why would you want to eat fast food for Christmas? Honestly, it’s just a cultural thing. Why do Americans blow stuff up to celebrate the birth of America? Because we’re Americans and that’s what we do.

Anyway, I found a sign that looks like this:

KFC Christmas LIES.png
Yes, I do kind of want it. 

I picked up a pamphlet and began to walk away.

But then, I discovered an atrocity.

There,  sitting on the table with all its disgusting merriness, was a Christmas plate. Did the plate say, “Merry Christmas!” No. No it didn’t. It said:

“Kentucky Christmas.”

Ai got to experience one of my rants that day. It’s been a long time since I just let one off out of blue, and I might have scared some poor Japanese people in my near vicinity.

I believe I said something along the lines of, “We don’t eat KFC for Christmas! For the thousandth time, we eat ham and turkey! HAM AND TURKEY! Not fried up  grease attached to dead poultry!”

Ai was laughing pretty hard, and she wished she had recorded it all to put up on YouTube. I’m really glad she didn’t. I do not want to be an overnight YouTube star.I do not want to go down in internet history as “The Kentucky Fried Lunatic.”


Hahaha, let’s all laugh together at past me who thinks she’ll never be on YouTube. Joke’s on you, past me!


The thing is I wouldn’t care so much if not for the unfortunate problem that some Japanese people do believe that folks in Kentucky eat KFC all the time and must eat it at Christmas (for the plates tell them so). It makes me want to beat the marketing people senseless.

I’m resigned to the fact that people will forever and always associate my state with a gross fast food chain. However, Christmas is a sacred time of family, presents, and real food. For someone to dare tarnish the reputation of my beloved commercial holiday memories throws me into an irrational fury.

As Christmas draws near, the number of people asking me questions pertaining to my Kentucky heritage and my version of Christmas has increased. There’s the common question of, “Do you eat KFC on Christmas?” I respond, “No. No I don’t. Most of the people I know eat ham and turkey.” With a hundred side items and desserts, but I never get to that part.

People usually then respond, “Oh, really?” (I’ve come to recognize this phrase as something thrown at Japanese in English class, and I know this information because I’ve been wincing every time my students have to use it in class.) I usually respond with a small sigh and say, “Yes, really. And we have fruit cake.”

“What’s a fruit cake?”

A gross concoction  that looks like food. I’ve had very few good experiences with fruit cake. However, my mom just gave me a recipe for chocolate rum fruit cake. I’m kind of excited about that one, but I’m not ever excited about the prospect of fruit cake otherwise.


Funny thing, I made two batches of that chocolate rum cake (after, of course, taste testing one batch for science purposes). I gave those to my two main junior high schools, and surprisingly they loved those cakes! I was so terribly pleased with myself.

You’ll be horrified to know that fruit cake is sold in grocery stores over here more and more. Pretty soon, the annual tradition of passing around a fruit cake until it ends up in someone’s garbage will soon be a thing in Japan, too.


Japan has a decidedly better improvement. It’s called a Christmas Cake, and it looks delicious.

christmas-cake
Yum, yum!

I want to get one, but they’re apparently in really high demand. I don’t know if I will, but I’m going to try!


As I recall, I bought one at my local liquor store. Apparently, that’s where all the single people went to celebrate Christmas, so they had mini-Christmas cakes there for the lonely types. It was freaking delicious, too, like super packed with strawberries.


The other questions pertain to what I do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I told my friends and JTEs about how Christmas Eve is usually reserved for getting together with family and friends. I have a family tradition with my Dad’s side of the family that involves invading my grandmother’s house so we can eat good food and open up presents together. Most families reserve the present opening until Christmas Day, and I open my presents from my mother and her side of the family on that day.

A couple of people have asked me if I’m going to spend Christmas with a boyfriend, to which I responded two different ways:

“Where’s this imaginary Japanese man that’s fallen madly in love with me and why haven’t I met him?”

and

“Why would I celebrate Christmas with a boyfriend?”

Apparently, Christmas time is couples’ time in Japan. Boyfriends apparently do romantic things for their sweethearts, like buy them a present or take them out somewhere nice. If they want to be really beloved by their girl, they will take her to Disney Land or Disney Sea (depending upon the age. Disney Sea has drinking.). I won’t lie, if I had a boyfriend, I would totally beg him to take me there. Do you know how cute that place is? Ridiculous I tell you!

Christmas at Disney Sea.png
Come on, you totally just went, “Awww!” 

I explained that it’s really a big family time of the year, so I would not celebrate with a boyfriend on Christmas. I would celebrate on Christmas Eve with him before my Dad’s family time, but I don’t think I could’ve done it on Christmas. Dedicating the whole day to a boyfriend would get me disowned.

I’ve also discovered that Japanese parents have it tougher than American parents when it comes to sneaking the presents. American parents just have to sneak into the living room and put the presents under the tree and fill up the stockings. Japanese parents have to put presents beside their children’s beds at night. I couldn’t do it. I would wake up my child instantly due to some klutzy error.


Japanese parents, though, don’t generally buy a lot of presents for their kids. It’s usually only one or two kind of nice toys and that’s it. See, kids generally get these money envelopes on New Years Day, so pretty soon after Christmas they’ll have more presents. So it’s not like they’re going in the room with like a whole Santa bag, mainly just one or two boxes, which does make a bit easier.

Still, ninja skills, man.


Apparently, Santa Claus is pretty much the same jolly man in red. I’ve been asked if Colonel Sanders in Kentucky dresses up for Christmas, and I had to really think about it. I couldn’t remember our KFC even having a Colonel Sanders statue. I said I think so, but I honestly don’t remember. I know for a fact that Colonel Sanders does dress up as Santa Claus in Japan. It actually looks pretty neat.

Colonel Sanders Santa.png
No thanks, Colonel Santa. 

Right now, I’m trying to avoid KFC, lest I fly off the handle again and cause an international incident. I’m sure I’ll eventually eat there (I do love the biscuits), but until the holidays are over it’s best to just stay clear.

I will say that some cultural things about Christmas are the same. It’s about being with the people you love and showing you care. Regardless of where the presents go or the thrice damned chicken, both Americans and Japanese jump through hoops to get those special gifts for their beloved people. Just as in America, parents have got it tough, and in the name of love for their children they will do anything to get that stupidly popular (insert item here).

Christmas cheer is everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. The Christmas music started earlier than America because there’s no Thanksgiving to hold it back, and oddly enough it’s mostly the same American choices for music. For example, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” plays all the time. I kind of like it, but I’ll be sick of it by the end of December.

There are Christmas trees, too. They’re a little smaller than the average American tree, but that’s to be expected since most Japanese homes are smaller than the average American home. I’m considering getting either a small tree or a poinsettia. I was surprised to find the poinsettias over here, but they’re apparently just as popular here as in America.

Alas, I will not be celebrating Christmas in Japan, however. I will be going back to Kentucky for Christmas, which means no KFC for me! Yay! Instead, I’ll be chowing down on ham and fudge and pie and burritos and tacos (because Mexican food is only found in all of two cities, and I live in neither of them) and more pie and cheeseburgers and…Well, you get the idea.

I’ll be back in Japan for New Years, so until then TTYL and Merry Christmas!

P.S. Here’s a link to Badger Girl and a recipe for fruit cake so you can make it for the unsuspecting person of your choosing:

http://learntocookbadgergirl.com/?p=1761


Alright, so I’ll be restarting flashback Friday, but I think I’m going to do it every other Friday instead of every week like I was doing before. See you all in two weeks then!

Posted in From Kentucky

Kentucky Laws on Abortion: Worse Than Ever for Women

I remember sitting in the pews of a Baptist church as a pastor condemned abortions, because “baby killers don’t deserve heaven.” In true hypocritical fashion, I knew the adults refused to let most of their precious children learn learn about sex ed. But abortions? They dedicated a full hour, because it’s easier to condemn than understand, easier to villianize than to empathize.

The sermons have made their way into Kentucky General Assembly, where a 20 week abortion ban was just approved. I’m not claiming surprise, as the Republicans have been biting at the bit for years to get this legislation passed. Bevin and his followers want to paint the picture of loose women who want to kill babies, that they’re just trying to “save lives and do God’s work.”

This is a false narrative, because if Bevin wanted to save lives then he wouldn’t be repealing Medicaid, he wouldn’t be putting people in more dire straits with Right to Work. He’s essentially stripped away the possibility of getting- already low bar- healthcare and taking money from women’s pockets.

Kentucky has been consistory ranked low on healthcare in general, with women’s healthcare even lower. Right now the state is ranked at 44 (it was 47), with Louisiana being the worst at 50. Kentucky ranks at 47 for Women’s Life Expectancy at Birth, with a 45 for socio-economic and wellbeing, but a 35 for overall care. In other words, basic healthcare is livable, but having a child is dangerous. After having a child, a woman’s economic hardships will be a harsh reality.

Did you know that it on average costs over $300,000 to raise a child in America? Republicans will tell you that you can’t put a cost on a life, but that’s easy to say if one’s world isn’t based primarily in agriculture and coal mining. Kentucky farmers and miners don’t even reach to $20,000 annual these days for household income.

And now let’s get into the pre-birth costs. Prenatal vitamins with health insurance are covered, but without it you’re looking at a $2,000 expense. Then, add in about $450 dollars for bottles, maternity clothes, etc. In addition, add in cost of taking days off from work or having to quit work altogether. With no standard maternity in America, women will have to either use vacation days or just not get paid (or lose their jobs because a boss expects her to be a full time mom now).

“What to Expect” gives great advice for mommies to be, and prepares women for the sticker shock of having a child. With insurance, a baby can cost between $5,000-10,000 for birth alone. But then:

While maternity expenses for insured moms might seem high, the numbers are far higher if you have no insurance at all. The Truven Report put the uninsured cost of having a baby at anywhere from $30,000 for an uncomplicated vaginal birth to $50,000 for a C-section. And those prices have increased dramatically in the last four years. According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, the cost of having a baby increased 50 percent between 2004 and 2010, and they’ve likely increased since then.

Maternity costs can also vary from state to state by 50 percent and even more within some states, according to the Truven report. A 2014 study by the University of California, San Francisco found that hospital charges for an uncomplicated vaginal delivery ranged from $3,296 to $37,227, depending on the hospital. For a C-section, costs ranged from $8,312 to nearly $71,000.

Legislators don’t want this narrative. They want to pretend that all moms have magical karma that will prevent them from coming into economic hardships. The fact is though, it’s getting to the point where debt and motherhood are intertwined together as a moral must, that a woman must be expected to carry and birth and raise without mentioning that she can’t afford to even feed herself, how can she afford a child?

How can she afford even an ultrasound? Under the new law, a woman must receive one before she can move forward with the abortion procedure. “The bill requires a physician or qualified technician to perform the ultrasound and position the screen so the woman may view the images.” Already the ACLU has deemed the move reprehensible enough to sue, but in addition to that,  “The medical staff will be required to describe what the images show, including the size of the fetus and any organs or appendages visible.”

Ultrasounds are expensive, and ultimately unnecessary for abortions in the first trimester. However, Kentucky legislators want women to “make the best medical choices possible,” by shaming them into seeing a fetus most women in Kentucky can’t truly afford to bring into the world. There are conflicting articles that report the ultrasound might be an intra-vaginal ultrasound, which is not only highly unnecessary, but also more expensive that the average over the belly ultrasound. Also, an intra-vaginal ultrasound is an invasive procedure, one that even one woman said felt akin to being raped.

So let’s put money aside and wade into darker waters. Rape, sexual assault, and incest are not exclusions to the new 20 week abortion limit. Kentucky ranks 41 in rape crimes, with over 997 reports. One would imagine that women after being raped would be given information about abortion procedures after a rape, but they’re not (bold added by me):

Every hospital with emergency room services shall have a physician or sexual assault nurse available to examine victims of sexual offenses reported to a law enforcement agency. Such examinations must include emergency room treatment, evidence gathering services, tests, and information about services for treatment of venereal disease, pregnancy, and other medical or psychiatric problems. The pregnancy counseling provided to victims of reported sexual offenses may not include abortion counseling or referral. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 216B.400 (Enacted 1974; Last Amended 2006).

Women who have been raped may be given the Plan B pill, but that’s not guaranteed. In the event a teen is raped by her father, well, she will have even worse problems:

Written informed consent with 24-hour waiting period of mother; of one parent or guardian if mother under 18 and unemancipated, except when medical emergency or by judicial proceedings for court to waive parental consent; doctor must notify spouse if possible prior to abortion, if not possible, within 30 days of abortion [notification of spouse has been held unconstitutional by the attorney general. OAG 82-97.]

Let’s paint this picture then: A young girl is raped by her father/brother/uncle, so she goes to the emergency room. When she does, they test her, patch her up, perhaps get her in contact with counseling and police. They don’t mention where to go for an abortion. She discovers she’s pregnant, but her father/brother/uncle won’t give her consent to get the procedure.

Without consent, she would need to find a judge who will believe her, within 20 weeks. The judges will all have waitlists and backlogs. She needs to find a place to get one, unaware that Kentucky only has two abortion clinics in the entire state. Someone has to drive her to Louisville, to EMW Women’s Surgical Center, which has a waitlist and a back log. Not to mention the money, to the tune of over $650 (not including the drugs and consultation fee). How to get that as a teen with no money?

On top of all this, she must go through an intra-vaginal ultrasound, reliving the trauma of her rape, while a doctor tells her what the fetus looks like, and shows her the image. Basically, at this point, it’s state required torture and trauma. These narratives aren’t what get heard at the $70,000 tax payer cost emergency sessions. No, these narratives are called “rare,” blatantly ignoring that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted before reaching 25, some statisticians calling that number hopeful.

Bevin has made it very clear in the fine print of his 20 week abortion limit that he thinks men should have the right to a final say. In here, its stated that a man can sue if a woman gets an abortion without his notice. In other words, a rapist can sue his rape victim over an abortion. A victim of rape can be attacked again, and have her life ruined, and it’s perfectly legal.

Women deserve better, we deserve to be treated as equal citizens, with full control over what happens to our bodies. Treating a fetus with more respect and love than for the women that hold them isn’t godly, it’s tyrannical. Taking away Medicaid, forcing women to pay out of pocket for every single step of a pregnancy isn’t pro-life, its pro-birth. Forcing women to accept a baby from rape and incest is asking her to go through hell, and pay money for the experience for the rest of her life. Giving men a revenge clause for women taking control of their lives and their bodies is beyond shameful, it’s disgusting.

Pro-choice doesn’t mean anti-birth; it means seeing the world as it is, seeing the cruel realities women live with. We need better protections for women to get all the medical treatment they need, and that includes abortions, that includes Medicaid and affordable healthcare, that includes being able to have full access to information at hospitals. We need to start preaching for women instead of against them.

Posted in From Kentucky, Japan News

Oh Dear Sweet Jesus, Japan Reported the Ark

For all of you people who live in a very well grounded reality, or are otherwise Christians that don’t have beef with science, Creationism sounds like madness…because it is. I was going to try and sound nice about it, but no, nope. Creationists are deliberately in denial, they hold on tightly to the Bible (that was never, ever in any point in history supposed to be taken literally) and call it absolute FACT.

And to my horrified surprise, the Japan Times didn’t decide to remind the world that for whatever reason Ken Ham (yeah that guy who did a debate with Bill Nye) and his cult decided to spend over $100 million on an Ark.

modern day golden calf.jpg
Behold! A modern day Golden Calf! 

That eyesore is embarrassing, as in absolutely astoundingly humiliating. It wasn’t enough that Ken and his cronies got that stupid Creationist Museum put up, now they’re getting a tax sales break (UGH) to the tune of $18 million. The only religious thing this inspires me to do is pray for a flood to come wipe it out. It’s foundation is blatant ignorance, it’s structure held up with arrogance of superiority, and it’s message is nothing about God but everything about the folly of Man.

What really twists me up about all of this nonsense is that people will definitely go to there. I had two Germans who told me they’d been to Kentucky and went to the Creationist Museum. They recalled the “hilarious” tour guide and the “morons” who believed that Adam and Eve co-existed with dinosaurs. I tried to tell them not all Kentuckians believe in Creationism, but apparently more than enough to get an Ark built with all Christian staff.

Kentucky already has a joke of a reputation that’s stereotyped in movies. I remember wincing when I watched Kingsman: The Secret Service at the maniacal, hateful church goers depicted in Kentucky (obviously a Westboro parody, but they’re based in Kansas). This reputation is only getting worse as time goes on. Apparently, separation of church and state isn’t as separated as it should be in Kentucky, but then again we’ve got Kim Davis winning on the marriage certificate thing with the awful Governor Bevin making sure bigotry continues against the LGBTQA+ community. Bevin is also determined to cut as much funding for education as he possibly can, but note that an elective Bible course was approved by the state.

For all of this, I’m proud to have been born and raised in Kentucky. The people who aren’t creationists, who don’t want to make huge and useless Biblical theme parks for “tourism,” are generally amazing. Also, there are plenty of other, better reasons to visit Kentucky than to go see that monstrosity.

Kentucky has the best horses in all of America, and you can’t tell me otherwise, don’t even try. The Kentucky Derby is still a joy to watch every year. The Appalachian Mountains are gorgeous, and definitely worth hiking and camping up in the summer time. Mammoth Cave is one of my all time favorite tours ever, as it shows and explains just exactly how long it took to make (no, not 6,000 years Creationists, try over 100,000 to a million depending on how far down you go). It’s very educational about the structure of the earth, and will make you smarter for going there, not dumber.

Basically, there are so many other places to go, and I beg of you Japan and other people of the internet, don’t give any more money to Ken Ham or his cult. Don’t visit this thing, don’t let them win. Please and thank you!

 

Posted in From Kentucky

Lexington House is More Than Meets the Eye

My friend and poet Bianca Spriggs shared this neat house listing from Lexington, Kentucky. The house on the outside might seem like your every day usual suburban home, if a little more roomy and with a nice yard. Usually, homes like this one have a couple of normal bedrooms, a spacey kitchen with perhaps a breakfast bar, and a tastefully decorated living room.

Idle Hour House

But the inside is shockingly different from what you’d think.

Living Room

It’s like if Santa were a millionaire, this is what his house would look like. It’s jaw dropping, for both amazing and terrifying reasons. Amazing as in, “Holy moley, that is something to see! It’s so different!” And then terrifying as in, “How do people actually live in this place and not get headaches?”

Breakfast bar

The kitchen continues this pattern of white and Santa red with gold for highlights here and there. Hey, there is in fact a breakfast bar! How about that? Well, at least when company comes over to stare at the place in amazement, there’s more than enough seating space to eat.

Kitchen

It’s admirable how white the kitchen is. Somebody in this household must have been magic, because the fact that nothing looks stained, burnt, or used at all. It’s like prestigious museum quality preservation here.

Bedroom

Assuming this is the master bedroom, this is where the owners of the house slept. With wallpaper that must reflected the sun into every corner of the room and no dark curtains, you can bet they were probably up from the crack of dawn and onwards. Once again, vanity seems completely untouched. Maybe rich ghosts lived here?

Bedroom 2

And then we come to the possible guest bedroom, which for some reason changes to a toned down all gold set up. Definitely a huge shift from the red and white, but why? Is it perhaps an acknowledgement that some people aren’t Christmas folk and would want to sleep somewhere a little less bright? We may never know the answers to these questions.

The property is being sold at $310,000. If you’re interested in it, and who wouldn’t be, go here to contact Terra Long. Make her an offer, sit down in your new home, and then email me about how it feels.


*Photo Credit: Lexington Bluegrass Association of Realtors

 

Posted in From Kentucky

Viral Videos from Kentucky!

Today Kentucky has been getting some interesting news. First, this video of a woman re-enacting what happened when a tornado passed over her in Mayfield, Kentucky. Seriously, I’m sorry about the situation and for all the damage done in the area, but this woman is fantastic. She says basically what I would say, but I’d be dropping a few more F-bombs into the mix (Sorry, Mom!)

And then! In animal shenanigans, we have goats that led a town on a merry chase in Covington, Kentcuky. People ended up running after these little guys for over 24 hours trying to get them all rounded up.

Sometimes my home state is just the best!

Posted in Uncategorized

On Moving Across the Globe

Many years of traveling have taught me that getting your entire life packed into a suitcase is near impossible, but you can come close. The stress of moving will be tough sometimes, but don’t freak out. If you take the time to do the research you’ll be ready for what comes ahead. You just got to know how to pack, what to pack, and what you should send to yourself later.

When it comes to packing, don’t skimp on suitcases. You’re going to want something sturdy to hold your stuff inside, you’ll want it to be deep and full of extension pockets. A flimsy hold hand-me-down pack won’t work for a big move, trust me on this one. Go ahead and bite the bullet and buy something that will survive being tossed around by airport personnel. Also pro-tip on clothing packing, don’t fold your clothes; roll them up. Not only will you save space but you reduce wrinkles dramatically with the roll technique.

rolling clothes
livelongandtravel.com

You’re probably worried that you’re going to forget something, or perhaps there just won’t be enough room for all your stuff. The key here is to keep your priorities straight:bring what you need and not what you want. Clothes, shoes, and medicines are always get put in first. Gifts for whoever will be your future co-workers are great ideas if you’re moving to Japan. After that, you can put in small things like jewelry, books, magazines, pictures, etc.

If you can digitize all of your media before moving, that’s a fantastic way to save space. Pictures, movies, documents, put it all on a backup drive or USB’s. Lugging around pictures on picture frames can be a great strain, and same for books. Go ahead and get an ebook app or a Kindle to save weight and space.

Before you finish packing and get moving, I highly recommend you talk to people who have lived where you’re going to live. The internet is a wonderful place full of forums and chat rooms, take advantage of them on travel sites and ask about what are the number one products or clothes you should definitely bring to your new country.

If you’re coming into Japan on JET or Interac or whatever, most likely you’ve got a predecessor whose position you’ll be taking over. These can give you the down low on how much you should save before going over, what the atmosphere is like for foreign people, weather conditions, and so much more.

I took over from a girl I’ll call L. She filled out a JET Handbook for me to read over before I arrived as well as talked to me via email and Facebook. If you have a first person account of what’s available specifically in your area then you can better prepare for the coming trials ahead. L warned me way in advance about shoe sizes in Japan and that finding my shoe size would be a headache and a half. She also told me about getting an International Driver’s Permit (I.D.P.) would be necessary to get a car, and driving was a necessity in the countryside where she lived. Thanks to her, I was able to get one before I left and rented a car while I lived in Ibaraki. She was correct 100%.

My two item recommendations for if you’re coming to Japan are 1) deodorant and 2) bras. The deodorant applies to both men and women. Unlike in the U.S.A., most deodorants are spray cans. If you manage to find a deodorant that’s a roll-on type it’s usually not that strong. If you want that 24 hour protection, buy yourself some American stuff and take it with you. Bras are for the ladies, especially if you’re anything over a C cup. Most Japanese women are A or B, so most bras are tiny. I only went bra shopping once in Japan, and it was awful. The sizes are way too small for busty ladies around the chest and the cups aren’t designed well for support.

If you can get someone reliable who can ship you boxes after you move to another country then you’re pretty much set. I’m one of those who relies more on family members, but I highly suggest that the trust goes with someone responsible. If you think a close friend is better to rely on, trust your gut and go with that person instead. Needless to say, my mother sent me a box of shoes, Lucky Charms, and Reeses a month after I settled in my new apartment. Ya know, all the essentials.

A friend of mine was really smart and packed up his gaming PC to get shipped by his brother once he got a Japanese address. Since he wasn’t on a program, he was getting his apartment by himself, so he needed to wait until he got a place to send things. He left his brother with a box, instructions for what to do, and money for shipping. If you can do something like that with bulky items that might be better than trying to stuff them into a suitcase.

But make sure you double check the country’s list of banned items and medicines before you ask people to send you things. Banned items are simple, basically the same as any other country. No explosives, flammables, guns, etc. However, the latter part can be quite tricky. Some people have been arrested for bringing over the counter medicine from America into Japan and their own prescription medication.

Up to one month’s supply of allowable prescription medicine (by Japanese law) can be brought into Japan. Travelers should bring a copy of their doctor’s prescription as well as a letter stating the purpose of the drug. Travelers who must carry more than one month’s supply (except prohibited drugs and controlled drugs), or are carrying syringes (pumps) or a CPAP machine, are required to obtain a so-called “Yakkan Shoumei”, or an import certificate in advance, and show the “Yakkan Shoumei” certificate with your prescription medicines at the Customs.

For more information about bringing medicines into Japan and how to obtain a “Yakkan Shoumei” Certificate, please visit the website of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare where you can also find an application form.

Japan is zero tolerance on drugs. Fun Fact: The Rolling Stones, former Beatles band member Paul McCartney, and Paris Hilton  were  denied entrance to Japan because of prior drug charges from their motherlands (Tofugu). If you are caught with drugs without a Yakken Shoumei certificate, you could face jail time and/or deportation. Do you research and make sure you’ve got all the right documents before bringing or sending medicine into a different country.

Becoming an ex-pat can be a thrilling and life changing challenge, and it’s definitely worth all the effort. The final step to this process is of course the fact that you’re going to get to unpack everything in your new home. I do the procrastinator style unpacking, wherein I sort of live out of my suitcases for about a week until I eventually get around to putting everything in its proper place. I remember sliding open the closet door and just feeling so amazed that I was actually living in a Japanese apartment. Those moments will be the ones that will make all the headaches, frustrations, and preparation worthwhile.


If you’ve got a subject that you want me to write about, please put it in the comment section! 

 

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Hair Salons in Japan

In my first year in Japan around September, I realized that my split ends were more like split strands. I’d been in the country for three months and couldn’t pretend that I didn’t need a haircut anymore. I sighed, got in my rented little Toyota IST and headed out. With only basic Japanese under my belt, I wasn’t in any way prepared to shop around for a hair salon that was or wasn’t expensive, had this or that service, or whatever. I just needed to get a haircut and get out.

I drove ten minutes to my local hair place near my grocery store. I went inside and a rather adorable hair sweeper girl stared in shock as she proclaimed, “Irasshaimose!” I nodded and said, “Konnichiwa, uh…cutto kudsai?” She laughed and brought me over to a chair. The barber, who I didn’t know at the time would become my hair stylist for the next three years, took one look at my hair and glared at me (he would proceed to do this every time I came in with split ends).

Now, in the United States I’m used to shelling out at least $20 for a shampoo and rinse session, followed by a standard $20 haircut, and then I’ve got to tip at least $10 so someone won’t complain to my grandmother that I’m being stingy (it was a small town, we went to the same place for about 10 years). Basically, $50 for a standard thing, and then more depending on if I wanted a certain kind of nifty new fangled style.

I remember my stomach knotting up as I got my shampoo and rinse, followed by a pretty extensive haircut that involved thinning out my thick hair in under layers. Then I nearly panicked when he put me in for another wash and rinse. This stage is known as triitmento, yes as in treatment. It wasn’t soap but a kind of oily, soft chemicals that keep fly aways down. After that, the sweeper lady conversed with me in broken Japanese and English as she put some other oils on and blow dried my hair.

And then the best thing ever happened: She have me a shoulder, neck, and head massage.

By this point I resigned myself to shelling out a good ¥10,000 ($100) for this haircut. The barber came over and did some last adjustments and asked me what I thought about the new look. I loved it, and the way he made my hair shine was amazing work. When I walked up to the counter, they asked me to sign a customer card, which I did, and then I got my total.

¥2,800…

I stared at the price for so long they thought I was mad. I told them I wasn’t, but they didn’t believe me. After using Google translate, they finally understood I was sticker shocked in a good way, and they were really happy. I paid and left, thinking I must’ve lucked out in getting such a cheap place.

Nope, turns out I overpaid. Most salons in Japan have a standard ¥2,000 ($20) for a shampoo, rinse, and trim. If you want to get a perm, it’ll only cost you about ¥4,000-¥6,000 ($40-$60) depending upon the place and how much hair you’ve got on your head. The neck, shoulder, and head massage is always included, so no matter which hair salon you go you can get one.

However, nowadays I overpay and go to the Hair Ash Make salon in my town. The hairdressers there are very accommodating and one of them speaks English. I shall admit that I overpay there by choice because their hair care products leave my hair looking shiny and nice for days afterwards, and also because did I mention one of the hair stylists speaks English?

hair ash make machida

In terms of my hair, I generally just go into a hair salon and say, “Ni-cenchi cutto kudasai,” which means, “Please give me a 2 centimeter hair cut.” Remember, they use the metric system here, so if you want an inch you actually want about 2.5 centimeters (which I always round down to two). “_____ cenchi cutto kudasai.” will be the most handy and useful phrase at any hair salon.

Most hair stylists will ask, “Layah was dousuru?” as in “Do you want layers?” I usually ask for “undah-layahs” which you might suppose means “under layers” and you’d be right. If you want hard layers, they’re called “blunto layah” and if you want curved they’re called “softo layah.”

If your Japanese language skills are a work in progress, bring a picture with you. If you point to it and say, “Kore wa onegaishimasu” that means “I want this” and you should be golden. Most hair stylists I’ve known have been endlessly patient and will  use gestures or even smartphone applications to make very, very, sure they understand what you want.

Guys I know generally don’t bother with salons. They go to the ¥500-¥1,000 ($5-$10) cuts available at nearly any train station in Japan. I won’t lie, I went to one of those to get a quick trim on my bangs (yes I have bangs, I live in Japan and they’re fashionable here, so sue me). The massage thing there is hit or miss, some places do them but other places don’t. The reason for that is because those places are more about efficiency, so a quick cut and then get out. Mine did a quick head massage but left my shoulders alone, and I was sad but understanding about it.

qc house

However, if you’re a guy who likes to have really nice hairstyles, I do recommend going to a hair salon over the quick cuts kind of places. They’re nice for a trim, but in terms of styles they are quite limited to standard salaryman looks. So if you’re more of a suave type, spend that little extra and go to a salon.

When it comes to black ladies and gentlemen, be aware that very few hair salons and cut houses will have the proper hair treatment for black hair. Usually you’ll have to trek out to Tokyo or Osaka to get the proper kind of hair care you’re looking for, and it usually costs twice as much as when you lived in America (or really any other country). I’ve heard most black people in the country have taken to self-care and just buy their products through Amazon and do it at home. Still, if you want a nice hairstylist who knows black hair, I recommend the hair places around Roppongi. But there are some tips and tricks other writers shared about their experience you might want to read before making a decision.

In general, I’m more pleased with hair care in Japan than in America. Don’t get me wrong, I miss the chit chat that I used to get at my local salon place in Paducah, and I miss all the ladies who took care of me when I was young. But in terms of service and bang for my buck, Japan definitely wins.


Please, tell me about your experiences with hair salons in Japan. If you’ve got a subject or issue you want me to write about, leave a comment below! 

 

 

 

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Dating: A Hassle in Every Country

Happy Valentines Day!

I figured since it’s the season of love, I should discuss the differences between dating in America versus over in Japan. Notice how I’m talking about dating, not relationships. I don’t feel qualified enough on relationships to tell you about those, but the act of dating in order to find someone? I might be able to help you out there!

However, I’ll give out this information with a small disclaimer: E.S.I.D. This little annoying acronym came into my life the first day I touched down in Japan at the JET Conference. It means Every Situation Is Different. I’m doing an overview of what I’ve experienced as a foreigner in Japan, but that doesn’t mean every part of it will definitely apply to every single dating situation. Be careful, use your head, listen to your heart, because love is different for everyone.

Where to Meet People

Coming over to Japan, at first you’re going to want to settle in and get comfortable. After your nesting period is over, you’ll want to make friends and possibly start looking for a special someone. If you came over on a big program like JET or Interac, you’re in luck. Those organizations provide you with a vast network of people who will gather regularly to go traveling, experience the sights in your local town, and etc.

Usually, ALT and other teaching companies will overlap in their groups. That’s how I met my first boyfriend over here. He was a really nice guy, charming, and we hit it off really well. It didn’t work out in the end, but that’s fine. Although some people end up meeting their future husbands or wives over here! My friend from the Kashima area met her husband at a local Japanese class we all took together. Get involved in a hobby, try something new, don’t be afraid to try!

If you didn’t come on a big program set-up (or you did but ended up in the super inaka area like I did) MeetUp provides great opportunities for ex-pats and Japanese people alike to gather together all over Japan. Most of them are Tokyo oriented, but the beauty of MeetUp is you can make your own group activity in your area. Facebook Groups and Pages are also a great resource. Just type into the search engine your city name and there’s bound to be something going on.

For Japan, it’s not like in the states where you can just happen upon someone and ask them out for coffee. When it comes to face to face interaction, the culture is very collectivist, so its best to join a few groups and get to know people that way. If you’re specifically looking to go out with a Japanese person, the general rule is become friends first and then try out dating.

But that’s not always the case.

Online Dating

There are so many dating apps these days, but OkCupid so far has the best track record in Japan. It’s great because you can be LGBTQA+ on that site, whereas some apps are more one thing or anther. Also, it has a kind of Tindr feature where you can do Like or Pass as well as look at other profiles and chat. I managed to get a few dates using it, myself, mostly girls. I am bi-sexual, so for me I like that I can have the option to put that up on my profile.

The benefit of using an online site or dating app is that everyone on it is there for the same reason: to date. Instead of constantly meeting people and wondering if they’re interested, you know right away that the person chatting you up would like to go out with you. Also, with the chat feature you can talk and find out pretty quick if the person you’re talking to is as interesting as they seem in their profile. I like how easy it is to block someone. Just swipe to block and they’re gone.

I liked the convenience of it. I commute so much that nowadays it’s difficult for me to go meet people. With dating apps, I can “meet” people virtually anytime. When I lived out in the countryside, I liked them because my location made it difficult in Ibaraki to go out and see people. Not to mention that it’s easier for me to type up Japanese than speak it directly, so for dating Japanese people I do recommend dating sites maybe more than face to face.

The downsides if using it, of course, include a whole host of problems. Catfishing, where someone puts up a fake profile and picture, is a consistent problem my friends have encountered (I’ve been lucky, every boy and girl I’ve met has been truthful). Sometimes the chat will have people trying to scam you into sending them money, a semi-common tactic used by low level yakuza pretending to be hot Japanese women and for some reason con artists from India pretending to be fake Indian women (isn’t scamming strange in the 21st century?).

These kinds of profiles are targeting men, but women can get conned by host men luring them to host clubs sometimes. That one happened to a friend of a friend. She was told she’d be going to a restaurant and ended up paying for her night out with her Japanese “boyfriend” who made her pay for champagne. Most dating websites and apps have places to complain to about these problems, but it’s rare anything is done about them.

But usually you can tell from talking to someone on chat if they’re really interested in you or just out to scam you. I generally talk with someone on chat at least a week before I discuss meeting up, which might sound crazy to someone from the states. When I lived in Kentucky, I never waited that long. I’d set up a place out in public like three days in, but as a single female living abroad I’m way more cautious than I used to be. And in general, I’m not one to make the first move, so it’s hard for me in Japan to even get a date.

Asking Someone Out

I will say that I never realized how, well, easy I had it in Kentucky. I could just ask someone out, and then we could go out for coffee or to lunch. Very simple and very direct. I remember thinking how hard it was to ask someone out, and I laugh now. If only I knew that one day I’d be trying to fumble about in broken Japanese trying to get a guy’s phone number (I was rejected that time, sadly, but succeeded two years later).

Most of the time in Japan, if you’re doing a face to face interaction, you’ll be friends at first. Then, most of the time if you’re a lady the guy will ask you out to lunch or dinner. However, I’ve been asking people out more and more while living here in Tokyo, and none of the guys seemed to mind. They were flattered more so than upset. I think really getting hung up on who should ask who, or what the “proper protocol” is, will just make you miss your chance. Just ask if he/she doesn’t. Be brave!

Going on a Date

When I lived in Kentucky, a cafe was considered standard practice for a first date. Coffee and such was reasonable, but it wasn’t say like McDonalds or some other fast food restaurant. Cafes were a more “upscale” kind of cheap. Also, since one person usually paid for everything (in my area we kind of swapped back and forth, where the second date meant the other person who didn’t pay for the first date pays the second time), cafes weren’t such a financial burden to cover.

Most ex-pats in Japan tend to follow along the same lines of thought. Guys will generally pay for girls, both of them will go somewhere inexpensive but still kind of nice, and it’s not generally expected to be a big to-do. For lesbian and gay couples, it depends on who asked who out. Whoever asked first generally pays, but splitting the bill is also common. Both people will wear marginally better clothes than normal, but nothing terribly formal.

For Japanese people, lunches and dinners are popular first time dates in Japan, and for the most part a fancier kind of restaurant is deemed appropriate. Now, if you’re a college student, “fancy” would probably be more like a family restaurant like Saizeriya or Jonathans. If you’re both full time working adults, maybe like a real Italian style or French restaurant. Both people will wear nicer, more formal attire and they’ll split the bill evenly (called betsu-bestu in Japanese).

Valentines Day Differences

In America it’s customary for people to give chocolate to all your special people. When in school, generally students will give out cards and chocolates to most if not all of their homeroom class. In the teen years, couples get each other small gifts like chocolates, flowers, or personalized cards. Husbands and wives (including husbands with husbands, wives with wives) generally give each other gifts like ties for men or jewelry for women.

In Japan, Valentines Day is a part one of two holiday match. On February 14th, girls give boys chocolates and tomochoco (friendship chocolate). Boys/Men don’t give anything, they simply receive. Their day of giving comes on March 14th, called White Day. Then, guys will give back chocolate to the girls they like. Honestly, I don’t see many boys getting each other tomochoco, but for some reason Asahi and other beer companies have recently been trying to market towards men giving each other like tomobieru. So yay?

Anyways, be careful if you’re dating a Japanese person around this time or if you’re Japanese and dating a foreigner. The expectations will be a bit different.

Hitting the Bars and Clubs

In America, going out to a bar or a club meant having a good time and possibly picking up someone to take home. You can do that here in Japan, but don’t expect to be taken back to an apartment. The standard protocol for one-night stands is to go to a love hotel and spend the night together there.Notice how I said one-night stands. Unlike in America, most of the time getting someone from a bar or club will be a one time experience.

I don’t know why, but in Kentucky I knew people who met their future spouses at bars and clubs. In Japan, the mindset is very different for that kind of scene, it’s just not a great place to meet people. Ditto for izakayas, the restaurant and bar combo places you’ll find all over the country.

It’s very rare that I hear about people managing to form a relationship from meeting at a bar or club. That’s not to say it can’t/ won’t happen, but the possibility is slim if you’re trying for a long term thing. If you just want a no strings attached good time, then yeah, go for it!

What’s Next?

After the first date, believe it or not, comes the hard part: Call to say you had a good time, or call to say it’s just not going to work out. If you had a good time, great! Set-up a more interesting second date. Go somewhere together in town, like a gallery show or a temple. Figure out if you’ve got a common hobby or go out dancing together.

I’ve given my fair share of calls where I told someone I wanted to see them again, but also that I just can’t feel the chemistry. I’ve also received the calls where someone I like just didn’t feel it for me, and while that hurts I always appreciate honesty. Better to know in the beginning than down the road, I think.

If it didn’t work out, don’t be that person and text them that you’re done. Or worse, don’t ghost. Ghosting is when you drop off communication and just hope someone gets the hint. This happened to me the last time I dated, and let me tell you, a clean break is better than nothing (The exception, of course, is if you think you’ve got a creep or stalker on your hand, then block that crazy person asap).

Still the best advice I think I can give, whether you end up finding someone or not, is don’t give up. Don’t stop trying to make your special someone feel special. Pay attention, listen to what they say, what could be a great present for their birthday or Christmas? Would they like to go traveling or would they prefer to go bowling? Don’t ever think that you’ve done enough. Keep finding new ways to show them you care.

And for all my single ladies (and gentlemen), don’t get so disappointed you stop trying. It might take some time, but we’ll be fine. Take a break, but then try again when you’re ready.

I don’t know if my advice is perfectly sound, but I hope that it might help other people out there looking for love. Good luck everyone!


 

Here are some videos from vloggers who have dated in Japan who might interest you!

 

 


 

(Feature photo: Getty Images)

If you’ve got a dating story in Japan that you would like to share, please tell me all about it in the comment section!

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Keeping in Touch

In the modern age with social media, it’s never been easier to keep in touch with family and friends. I can follow my old friends on Twitter, Facebook, and even their own blogs. I try my best to make sure I know what’s going on with people, because I do care about all of them. Over my time here in Japan, I’ve discovered a few tips and tricks you might like to know.

I highly recommend making Facebook groups before leaving your home country, a group for your family and another group for close friends. That way you can share things with certain people and also keep it closed from unwanted eyes, like say your boss or colleagues. My university friends and I have a closed group specifically made for us all to stay in contact with each other. I’m glad to have it, because there I can easily talk to them about anything whenever I want to do so.

Set-up a Skype and Google account if you don’t already have them. Both options are great for doing video calls. I used to do them more in my first year, but now I’m only doing an occasional one. Still, they’re a great resource for if you feel homesick and you want to see your people half a world away. Facebook has also recently gotten into the vid-call thing, but their services are kind of hit or miss for me. Skype remains the best, Google second, and Facebook dead last.

I’ve been making it a point to use an agenda this year with people’s birthdays and addresses on them. That way I can send cards at a moment’s notice. Of course, I try to send “Happy Birthday!” messages on Facebook, but it’s so easy to get lost among every one else. If you really want to stand out and let someone know you’re thinking about them, a card or letter is a nice simple way to do it. I used to promise packages, but they’re so expensive to send and sometimes they’d get lost in the mail and never reach their destination, so I’ve kind of stopped doing them as time goes on.

Besides, odds are your grandparents or other older relatives won’t be on social media. I think my generation (and yes, I include myself) aren’t so great at writing letters and cards. They’re definitely wanting to hear from you, so go ahead and write or even call them up once and awhile. Even if it’s awkward, you’re a semi-functioning adult so just do it. It can be expensive, but if you use Skype minutes it can be more manageable.

However, even with technology, it’s easy to lose people over time. My friends list includes people from Britain, Germany, China, U.S.A., and all over Japan. As blessed as I am to have all these people in my life, trying to keep track of all of them consistently means that people will fall through the cracks. If teleportation technology existed, I would visit my friends in their various homelands, not to mention see my own every once and a while. This past year I went home for the first time in over two years. I want to go to South Korea to visit a few people, but managing the how and when of it will be a challenge. Unfortunately, you can’t keep everyone.

I go through every year or so and de-friend folks that I might have met once and never again. It’s an inevitable part of living abroad that you will meet a multitude of interesting and awesome people, but then you will discover that your lives are only going to intersect that one time at a karaoke party two years ago on a Friday night. It’s better for me to have deep connections, so I try to make sure that I invest my energy in people I know I’ll meet again.

Fair warning: People will also de-friend you, which you’ve got to expect and just take it as it is. Even if you were great friends for one year or two, if someone de-friends you don’t get upset. I constantly lose people when they leave Japan and go back to their home country. It’s not that we weren’t great friends, it’s just that they’re moving on to other things and I can’t be a part of that next leg of their journey. You’ve got to keep in mind that losing people will happen, whether you move from Kentucky to New York City or from Kentucky to Japan or even just one city over. People change, people leave, and that’s okay.

Besides, in the end the people who love you the most will stay in touch with you. Communication is a two way street, after all. Put forth the effort, of course, but they should also be willing to try to keep you in their lives. I cut off communication with certain family members and old friends because I realized that I was the only one willing to keep trying to have a relationship with them. When it became obvious that they didn’t feel the same depth of caring, I put them firmly in the past and moved on.

You deserve people who care about you, always remember that, and don’t let anyone try to guilt you for “leaving them.” People who love each other should support their endeavors and dreams, not tear them down or spite them. The people who stick with you and support you are the ones that really matter. Do your best to remind them that you care about them, too, and don’t get discouraged.

Family, friends, and all your favorite people will understand that wherever you go you are thinking about them, forever and always.


(Feature image blurred to protect privacy)

If you’ve got any tips for keeping in touch with people while living abroad, feel free to put them in the comments!