A Thought on Travel

18-03-18-20-20-43-629_decoIt’s been 1 year, 9 months, and roughly 15 days since I left New York to live abroad. In that time, I’ve done more traveling than I ever have in the 31 years that I have been alive. In a couple of months, I’ll be traveling once again (to California this time) to visit family during the period we call Golden Week.

In that year, 9 months, and 15 or so days, I feel like I’ve become less of an American, and more of a World Citizen. My mind doesn’t think of travel (especially international travel) as a once in a lifetime event or special thing reserved for honeymoons or anniversaries. It’s something that can be done by anyone with a bit of drive, careful planning, and a bit of free time.

People, here in Japan, are quite fond of traveling– be it to a distant country or the neighboring Prefecture. Every place is known for something, every place is though of special in its own right. Day-trips and weekend outings seem to be regarded just as seriously as a two week vacation.

Perhaps it’s because the US is so large, and transpiration so expensive and/or lacking, that we as Americans don’t travel so often. Perhaps it’s cleaver marketing.

For me, it was a lack of funds, time, reliable transportation, and any real feeling of safety traveling alone as a woman, that kept me home-bound.  It was only after being persuaded by open-minded individuals, on the dime of a relative, or even via a school trip, that I ever really got out there.

I am thankful to those people and experiences. They gave me the know-how and confidence to go and live in another country, to want to continue to travel. But at the same time, I can’t help wondering why is it not the same for many of my fellow Americans?

Since coming to Japan, I’ve been lucky to meet people from all around the globe. I have coworkers and friends from the Commonwealth, Europe, South America, and lots of other countries in Asia. I’ve sat down to dinner with these people to share stories about childhoods, everyday experiences, food, and culture. Every moment of it has been absolutely fascinating. These same people have asked me endless questions about the US, only some of which I am able to answer.

I feel like the international community has so much to learn and share with the world. From how Jamaica came up with the name for Jerk Chicken, to how fast-food in Australia is actually more expensive than most other foods, to the fascinatingly complex social conventions of Farmers in Northern England, to knowing the best season for wine from France, and why so many people suffer from Cedar allergies in Japan…

If I never left New York, I would have never know that Mount Fuji looks different depending on whether you’re viewing it from Yamanashi or Shizuoka. I would have never gone on a hunt for a rare and culturally celebrated red wine from France, after work with a friend, and beaten her parents (in France) to a glass of the stuff. I would have never learned how to play netball without befriending the Jamaican girl in my Sunday Japanese class.

I can only hope that others are privy to these sorts of things in the future. Go out there. See the world. You can only end up better off for it.

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Magnolia or Dogwood? Don’t matter to me.

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Spring has arrived in White Plains, New York. It’s a welcome arrival.

Yesterday, I  met up with some friends to celebrate a birthday. On the way home, I came across this tree, by the trans-center. Because it was a Sunday and also a holiday, I was able to wander about with my phone as I saw fit. No one was out in most places.

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Soon enough, the cherry blossoms will be in full bloom. The buds have already appeared on the trees, but they haven’t opened just yet.

Next weekend, I plan to go again to White Plains. Hopefully then I can get some good shots.

Throwback Tuesday 007

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It’s hard to believe that Easter is almost here.

Our school lost quite a few of our vacation days this week because of all the snow we had this winter. Due to those snow days, we lost two days this week, as well as the day after Easter. This has caused  a lot of people to change or downright cancel their holiday plans.

Personally, while I am a little disappointed in not having an entire week plus off, I didn’t really have much planned besides maybe taking my road test and visiting the city. I’m not really in contact with the majority of my family anymore, so I have little obligation to ‘celebrate’ anymore. Brother will probably go visiting, but mom and I won’t do much. Also, since I usually work weekends at the shop, I might not have the chance to do anything anyway. The holiday hours won’t be posted until Saturday…

Either way, happy Easter to those of you who do celebrate and a happy Sunday to everyone else.

Evening Stroll

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I’ve been feeling the need to change things up a bit lately. For a while my days have been following the same boring routine: get up, get ready for work, go to work, drag myself home, watch YouTube until its time to go to sleep, repeat. The only changechange to my schedule has occurred while being sick for two weeks, but that was because it was too much to do anything but sleep and cough.

The cold this winter had all but erased my motivation to do anything like going somewhere or push myself to get errands done. However, now that its getting a little warmer out and I don’t feel like death, I’m going to try and change it up by going out more.

I put a little extra this month on my MetroCard, so I can take advantage if the free transfers to get where I want to go.

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When I was younger, I wanted to move to White Plains. I thought it was the height of sophistication, for some reason. I can admit that it is a beautiful city, especially in the spring and fall, but the allure has diminished somewhat as I’ve gotten older.

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To me, White Plains was what New York City is to non-New Yorkers.  It’s the total opposite of my hometown: Yonkers. There are buildings taller than eight stories and a lot of things stay open later than 7pm. There’s a lot of shopping and almost always people on the street. People leave Yonkers to go to work, while people go to White Plains for work.

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Also, I’ve always been a sucker for the reflective windows on most office buildings.

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Over the years of taking multiple jobs in White Plains, I’ve gotten a little bored with the place. I still enjoy going there from time to time, but my level of obsession (especially that of living there) has died down. Now I see it mostly as a glittering shopping center– there are over 3 major malls within a 2 mile radius– surrounded by private houses and a crap hospital.

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Also, the rent is really high…

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Another throwback from April 2008 today. These were growing in a small park in White Plains, judging by the other shots in the folder. Over the years, a lot of my posts were of photos taken in this very small park.

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White Plains, on the whole, is very pretty in the spring. A lot of the buildings have professionals plan beautiful landscapes for them, especially in the downtown area. Between these landscapes and the abundance of cherry blossom trees, there is no lack of things to take picture of.