Why I moved to Moscow

Yesterday I went for a walk in Moscow. I walked across a covered bridge and was greeted by a familiar sound. “Irasshaimase”, the voice boomed. I looked to my left and spotted a Japanese vending machine. I peered closer and saw that all of the drinks inside were Japanese too. This simple sight brought back such strong memories. As I continued my walk I felt confused and disoriented. A feeling that you can only understand if you have called more than one place your home.

Japanese vending machine in Russia

Most people are surprised that I moved to Moscow. Russia seems like a scary place to most, a place with a dark past, a dark present and maybe even a dark future. Wheras Japan seems like utopia, it’s clean, safe and culturally rich. Moscow seemed like the kind of place I could be happy, be myself.. In many ways it’s the antithesis of Japan, that’s just what I needed. I’ll talk more about Japan in another post.

Before I went travelling I asked advice from an old friend and colleague. Along with living in Hong Kong and travelling South East Asia she lived in Moscow. Her face lit up when she talked about Moscow. She was so inspired by living there that she started a blog. My mind suddenly went into overdrive about Moscow and Russia. It seemed like such an exotic place, mysterious too. Little did she know that she planted a seed that day and ever since Moscow has always been in the back of my mind.

Its 2013 and I’m in Laos. I’m in a steam room and wearing only a small towel to cover my dignity. The heat and humidity become to much for me so I step outside, gasping for air. I sip tea and watch the people walking into the steamrooms. They are segregated by sex. A ladyboy covered in makeup strolls out of the changing room and enters the female steam room. A smile sneaks onto my lips and my eyes make contact with a guy across the room. He’s also smiling.

He walks across the room and we start talking. He says that he lives and works in Moscow and he has done for years. Even though I’m in Laos I find his tales of snow and Oligarchs fascinating. I feel butterflies in my stomach.

I’m falling for Moscow.

Fast forward two years. I’m alone in my small apartment in Japan. I’m lonely and isolated. The Japanese culture makes me feel uneasy at times. I find it claustrophobic and fake. I decide to look online for jobs in foreign climes. After applying for a few jobs in Hong Kong and Korea I come across a job vacancy for Moscow. I don’t apply for it but it sets off a frenzy of internet searches. I’m hungry for information about this exotic land. Unsurprisingly there’s very few blog posts about people who have actually lived there. People who know the real Russia.

My crazy internet searches lead me to Coursera course about understanding Russians, contexts of intercultural communication. The more I learn about Russian culture the more I want to live there, to experience it for myself.

A statue in Victory park
A statue in Victory park
VDNK park
VDNK park

I start to apply for jobs in Moscow. Many were poorly paid but I  am offered a few well paid ones. I accept one and thats how I end up in Moscow. Alone but not afraid. Starting afresh once again.

I started working here in September and I do a job that’s very different to my last one. I’m not just an English teacher but a home room teacher for a class in a Kindergarten . The job allows me to be creative, something I missed when working in Japan. I also get to enjoy the personal aspects of teaching. Rather than teach a class and retreat to the staff room or scurry to another class like in Japan, I’m with the same children all day so I get to actually know the children.

Although it’s not easy, it’s a lot more rewarding.

In short, I moved to Moscow because of a feeling. Something called me to live here. Now I just need to work out why!

 

Have you ever lived abroad? If so how did you decide what country to live in? Do you belive in fate or that you were called to live in a specific country?

St Basils cathedral in Moscow
St Basils cathedral in Moscow

Life Update

It’s been a while since my last post, a long while.

 

In that time a lot has happened. It seems like I havn’t had a minute to myself. Every moment has been filled with planning and doing. I even managed to fit in time at home and visit the UAE in between.

If you follow me on my Facebook  page you’ll know what’s happened.

I moved to Russia.

Moscow to be exact. Although the move was well needed times have not always been easy. Moscow is an amazing city but in some ways it’s the complete opposite to Japan.

It will take a lot of getting used to, but I absolutely love it so far.

 

I still have a lot to write about my life in Japan and I already have so many stories to tell about my new life in Russia.

As soon as my life settles down I will write more. I really can’t wait to share all of my stories with you.

I know one thing for sure, my life is certainly not boring.

 

Let me know if you have any questions about my new life in Moscow or the move from Japan.

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I’m moving to Ushiku, Ibaraki!

I’ll let you in on a secret.

Last summer I was regretting my decision to move to Japan. I found Japan an extremely frustrating place to live and found the culture quite claustrophobic.

I was done.

Then I spend a week or two in one of my favourite countries in the world, Thailand. So many bad things happened to me during that trip to Thailand that I let out a sigh of relief as soon as the plane landed at Narita airport. Japan may have it’s faults but it’s an amazing country to live in. It’s so safe, has friendly locals and a fascinating culture.

I fell back in love with it.

Fast forward four months to Christmas time. Once again the resentment for Japan built inside of me and part of me didn’t want to board the plane back to Japan. Work is a big part of why I moved to Japan and unfortunately I was placed in a big, unfriendly school where teachers would openly ignore me.

I knew one thing. As soon as my contract finished in March, I would leave Japan.

As soon as I landed back in Japan something changed. I started to understand the culture more, the language more and I started to appreciate it. I loved the fact that I could walk anywhere, alone, in the pitch black and still be safe. I loved Tokyo. My favourite city in the world, A crazy city where anything goes.

I realised I didn’t hate Japan.

Like any great relationship, there’s highs and lows. Japan has dealt me many lows but also many highs too.

I wasn’t ready to give up on Japan.

When it came to renewing my contract I knew one thing. I needed to move areas. Nasushiobara is a great place to live but it’s just too rural for me and too far away from Tokyo. Growing up near Liverpool I’m used to being close to the sea and I miss just walking along the beach, staring off into the distance.

Ushiku

 

Ushiku

Ushiku port

My company has offered me a new job in Ushiku, Ibaraki. I will live in a bigger town with a Starbucks, Walmart and lots of great restaurants. In just two train stops I will be at the coastline and it’s just a 1 hour direct train to Tokyo!

Ushiku is famous for having the largest standing Buddha in the world. As a Buddhist i think this will make it a very spiritual place to live.

I have just one week left in Nasushiobara and I’m making the most of it. Each day I’m trying to visit my favourite coffee shops, parks and restaurants. Today I went on an 8km hike around my local area and noticed so many beautiful things.

The best part about moving to Ibaraki is that I will be living in an actual house! On two floors! After a year in a tiny studio Leopalace I will love having all the extra space and being able to live and sleep in different rooms.

See you in Ibaraki!

Sakura