“How Independent am I?”: My First Week in Osaka





For me, a lot of first-time experiences have been happening since arriving in Osaka. I’m relearning how to do the simplest of tasks, such has buying breakfast at the local konbini (convenience store) and how to change the temperature of a heater. However, what has stuck with me since arriving in Osaka is how I have been adapting to the unfamiliar environment of adulthood.

Before Osaka, I was aware that I had some grasp with independence. My daily schedule would include driving to classes and drive myself to the nearby grocery store for lunch. If I didn’t want to study at home or at school, heading out to Starbucks for a few hours was my pleasant little getaway. I was working two jobs. I had convinced myself that I was pretty independent and aware of what to do in any situation, and I would be able to adapt to live in Japan easily. However, that was not the case when I arrived. In my hometown, I knew where everything was. I knew the streets and how the people acted. I knew where to go to buy cheap textbooks or buy groceries on a dime. I had a home to return to, one that I’ve known since I was born. The me in Japan has none of these things, and in realizing that, my sense of independence and adaptability were, and are still being, thoroughly challenged.

For the first time in my life, I am in an environment where I only know where one grocery store is. Even though I’ve taken the train almost every day, I’m familiar with only two to three stops. I don’t know any department stores within walking distance. I’m familiar with only one floor in my entire school. The world that I know so well by memory is so far away, and my knowledge on the world I’m in now is minuscule. As uncomfortable as this realization was for me, I knew I needed to find the support necessary to work through this transition. This meant that I had to brush aside the me who prefers problem solving independently, and to expose myself in such a way that I usually do my best to avoid.

I was scared to do this at first, but expressing my desire for help and overall dependence lifted some weight off my shoulders since I arrived here. Because I allowed myself to rely on my new housemates for help on where to go to get food, or how to use a Japanese washing machine, I also became somewhat closer to them. My CET program coordinators Malika-san and Yonezu-san also helped me greatly when I had tried placing too much responsibility on myself. Rather, it is necessary to rely on others, and it is okay to rely on others— especially in a foreign country! Throughout this program, I think this is something that I will continue to learn and become more comfortable with as time passes.

A morning view of Osaka from outside my classroom. It was the first sunny morning since my arrival.