Here on Expat Explorer, we have the pleasure to feature Rachael's post about the changing...
Seasons of Expat Life
I love the changing seasons. While all seasons are wonderful in their own way, autumn is by far my favorite. There is something so beautiful about the sudden crispness in the air and the warm colors that cover the trees. The oranges, reds, and yellows run together like a watercolor painting, bringing warmth to the cooler temperatures.
Just as seasons change, so do the “seasons” of being an expat. There are days when life seems that it couldn’t be better. Other times are difficult, frustrating, even maddening. My husband and I have many contrasting experiences living in Tokyo that prove how quickly everything can change. Still, for better or for worse, this is our current home.
In an attempt to cope with the ever-changing feelings that come with life abroad, I have found that embracing the seasons in our home away from home is the key to survival. For example, when the weather begins to change from hot and humid too cool and crisp in Tokyo, the Japanese maple trees become a brilliant, bright red. The sky is a cheery shade of blue, and suddenly the city looks infinitely different.
Summer has loud, buzzing bugs called cicadas. To some, they are insufferable. To me, they are a welcome break from the usual city sounds. Winter brings occasional snow showers. The flakes are as big as cotton balls and quickly cover the ground in a stunning blanket of white. Spring brings its own version of snow: cherry blossoms. The petals float gently from the trees, covering the ground below in a pale pink pattern. And of course there is autumn, my very favorite season no matter what part of the world I happen to be in. Second to the stunning colors of the Japanese Maple Trees, one of my favorite parts of autumn in Tokyo is the cozy smell of yakkimo (grilled Japanese sweet potato) being grilled over hot coals. When I walk through the doors of our local market, the scent is like a warm blanket being wrapped around my shoulders. Since I take a bicycle everywhere, this is especially welcome when the mercury drops.
For an expat, change is a normal part of life. Feeling grounded can be difficult, but there are ways to get through the relative madness of adjusting. Look to the little things for comfort, like the seasons. While often times they pass without notice, it's when we stop to enjoy the leaves falling from the trees that we are able to appreciate where we are at that particular moment. For me, the relative consistency of changing seasons helps create the feeling of home and allows me to look at my surroundings in a new light.
About the author
Rachael White is a native Minnesota girl who grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota (USA), got married to a Colorado boy (whom she met at college in Iowa) and after getting married, they packed up and moved to Tokyo, Japan. Rachael has been an expat in Tokyo for two years. Visit Rachael's blog or follow her on Twitter.