Posted in Slice of Life

Weird Superstitions I Have

Weird Superstition #1: Throwing away gifts = bad luck

I am currently in the process of moving, which means inevitably stuff needs to get thrown out. Because I’m moving in Japan, that means essentially getting rid of nearly everything, as that would be cheaper than bringing all my stuff with me.

Not even kidding, it’s about 14,000 yen (about $150) to “recycle” my fridge, washer, and a broken microwave. It would cost me triple of that to move them, and that’s not even considering the hassle of finding that company that would have a moving van in the next couple of weeks.

I’m downsizing all of my material possessions into boxes and suitcases. With any luck, I’ll be able to move without a lot of hassle into the new place. However, I have a hard time letting go of gifts.

I imagine most sane people can chuck stuff without much issue. For me, it’s a tough call. I have odd and weird superstitions about my stuff (i.e. junk) that I really shouldn’t. A keychain someone gave me three years ago that I never use shouldn’t be something I take with me, right? Yes?

But it was a gift, says my inner-not-so-sane voice. You can’t get rid of it. Why? Because all that good will given to me will then be promptly thrown away with it. All the love, the thoughtfulness, will go straight in the garbage!

Which made this particular move so difficult, as the washer and desk I currently possess are also gifts. The desk is huge with a glass top and shelves on the side. My friend Alex gave it to me before he left for South Korea, which was great! But now I’m terrified of getting rid of it, even though I literally have no money to take this with me. 

The washer is about ready to die, though. Its spin cycle is more of a slosh cycle, so I rarely use it anymore. It’s actually more convenient to run to the laundromat and get all my clothes washed in one go. So for that particular machine, I can let it go without feeling like I’m also tossing out the good intentions of my friend.

And yes, I’m fully aware all of my friends probably A) don’t remember giving me most of this stuff in the first place and B) would absolutely forgive me for tossing it all out and C) would think I’m nuts for getting all worked up about it in the first place.

Tomorrow, I’m taking my stuff up to future roommate’s apartment for storage. After tomorrow, I gotta either get rid of the rest of the things in the apartment or get screwed over come mid-April with everything else going on (job training, having very little money, etc.). Fighting against this superstition is vital for my own good.

But it still sucks. I hate tossing love away.

Weird Superstition #2: If I Spend Over 100,000 yen (over $1,000) at one time = DEATH

I grew up in a “feast and famine” household.

Whenever my mother received her tax returns or got a bonus of some sort, we could eat out and buy stuff. Most of the time, paycheck to paycheck struggles were our normal. Only a few occasions did the electricity or water get turned off from a bounced check, and I do mean few, but still it happened. My mother was a single parent doing the best she could, we didn’t starve or anything.

All the same, I have a difficult time spending money on things. I am frugal about a lot of stuff. I don’t pay for hundreds of dollars in any brand of clothing ever, I don’t eat out at places that are over 5,000 yen (not even for nomikais ). I buy used electronics and household things, literally most of the stuff in my kitchen is a collection of Daiso things and appliances handed over to me by people leaving the country.

Most people probably assume that I’m doing it out of trying to save money, and that is partly true. I like to save money more than I like spending it, and in general that’s a good way to go through life. However, at the same time I’m also dealing with my brain constantly shouting at me about spending money.

Especially for expensive things, like say I dunno, moving. I need to pay move-in costs for the new apartment, I need to pay for things to get chucked, and I gotta pay for everything in quick succession. The move-in costs for the new apartment are about 300,000 yen, but I’m splitting those costs with roommate, so it’s about 150,000-170,000 yen (over $1,500-1,700) depending upon the move-in date.

My brain is not a fan of these costs. It doesn’t matter that I saved up enough for it, it doesn’t matter that I have a credit card in the event of unforeseen costs so I can get food, doesn’t matter that I’ve already planned out my whole damn budget for the next two months! I will starve and die because I’m spending this money all at once!

It’s a bad move, because I will surely not have thought of something and it will be too much for me to deal with, and without this money I will-!

Go ask my mother or my roommate for a temporary loan. It’s not a big deal, and I recognize this fact as logical, but logic has got nothing to do with random anxiety. I hate dealing with this superstition on top of the other one, but what can you do?

Weird Superstition #3: If I Don’t Do Everything Myself, Everything Will Fall Apart

I have a hard time asking for help.

It’s a trifecta of problems to sort through right now. I hate putting my burdens onto other people, and asking for help is the worst way to do just that. It means I’ve let myself and others down by not being able to do it all on my own. Even though historically speaking I’ve gotten to where I’ve been because of all the support I’ve received, I still live everyday trying to be a pillar of support for others instead of the one needing support.

So when I’m the one standing in the middle of a wrecked room, unsure about everything that will happen and if I can do it all on my own, I feel strangely defeated in the knowledge that I’ll need to ask for help. I have these thoughts that my friends and family will be so disappointed and disgusted with me for it.

Which is quite ridiculous, because my friends gave me job recommendations and assisted me in trying to find a new place without me even needing to ask. For some reason, getting unasked for help is fine, but me actually having to say the words, “I’m sorry, but I need your help,” ties me up in knots.

If I don’t do it, it won’t get done. I took this lesson instilled in me by my mother who did everything herself and from my own personal experiences. Somewhere along the line it turned into a more twisted version of, if I don’t do it, everything will go horribly wrong.

I’m working on it, or I should say I’m pushing through it, because projects like moving demand that I must. I need help to get everything done, I need to spend that money to move into an awesome new place, and I need to get rid of the things holding me down. If I continue to keep thinking in these same old patterns, I’m never going to go anywhere.

Taking these steps towards change is a terrifying concept, but I’m going to do it anyway. It’s also exhilarating, I’ll admit, to go into this new territory where I don’t let my weird superstitions own me anymore. I’m fighting through them, and no matter what things are going to change.

I’ll talk more about the exact changes later. For now, I just wonder who else has weird superstitions or anxieties, and how they changed things for themselves. Lord knows it’s not easy, but I hope we can all get through it.


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

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!