A new chapter: life in the big city

Hello!

A number of changes are currently underway within my life! Wanderlust has kicked in again.

I spent July wrapping up my job as a barista, spending time with friends, dancing, swimming, having old friends visit from out of town, enjoying bonfires, and preparing for a new chapter in my life.

Back at the end of June, I applied for a position with Planned Parenthood. I was interviewed. A week or so later, I found out I was accepted to the position! I will be working as a Call Center Receptionist in the Twin Cities.

After finding out the good news, I had a few weeks to find a new place to live and wrap up my life in Wisconsin for the moment. I took a tour of two apartments in Minneapolis in July. I decided to move in with a roommate in a two-bedroom condo not too far from my workplace. So far, I’m really enjoying it! My roommate Alex and I spoke several times before moving in together. We are quite compatible in terms of cleanliness, sleep schedules, hobbies, etc. I feel as though I made the right decision to live with a roommate. I lived alone in Japan for nearly four months and I felt as though it was too isolating for me.

My job will be starting mid-next week! I plan to bike or walk to work up until the Minnesota winter creeps in and I don’t want to slog through piles of snow, at which point I will navigate city driving (which honestly terrifies me a fair bit, it’s taking some getting used to, all though so far I’ve been avoiding it).

Now that I have unpacked and settled a bit, I am looking forward to exploring the Uptown area and seeing what the Twin Cities has to offer! I miss my friends from back home, but I know they are only a few hours away by car, and I can go back and visit on a weekend sometime.

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Until next time,

Sarah

 

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April entry (on being outgoing and active)

Back at the start of the year, I set goals to be more outgoing and active. For once in my life, I’ve been following through on my new year’s resolutions surprisingly well. My overall health has been better from building and strengthening my relationships and from working out.

For about two months now, I’ve made it a habit to go to the gym once or twice a week with a few of my friends. We help keep each other motivated to do cardio, yoga, and some weight lifting. The gym we go to currently doesn’t charge any fees- score!

There have been a few setbacks in the process of being active, however. On April 8th, I got off of work after a stressful day and began having some troubling pains on my right side. The pain began worsening as I tried to nap, with a shooting, almost stabbing pain. I thought it might be my appendix at first. My mom decided it was best to drive me to the emergency room as the pain kept increasing. An ultrasound revealed a large stone in my gallbladder, and thus I was admitted overnight to the hospital. We decided to schedule surgery to remove my gallbladder on Sunday the 9th. Surgery went well, and I am now living a normal life without my gallbladder (it’s one of those organs humans don’t really need, though it helps with the digestion of fatty foods).

I stayed one more night after surgery and left the hospital on the afternoon of the 10th. I have to tell you though, the C02 that was used to inflate my stomach for surgery created some horrible pain when it pushed into my shoulder area as my body was getting rid of the C02, causing pain worse than my gallbladder had even been. I literally began screaming in pain as my shoulder pain spiked up. The pain subsided within about another day, and I’ve been healing up well since surgery. I have four scars on my stomach that make for some cool battle scars.

Despite surgery, I haven’t been slowing down a whole lot. I was off work for a week immediately following surgery. I’ve gone back to my schedule of working six days on, one day off. I danced for four hours only a week and a half after my surgery, actually. This was from attending yoga/salsa, and running into a friend at the store who invited me out for further dancing on the same day. We had a low-key girl’s dance night where we threw on Beyoncé and other hip-hop, pop, and Latin artists and danced the evening away. I had a blast! I’ve been back to the gym only once since surgery, so I’m slightly behind schedule there. I’m back into the grove of my weekly yoga/salsa fusion class. I haven’t had enough energy to get back into daily yoga either, but I don’t want to push myself too hard. I’ve been overdoing it slightly as it is, I think. I caught up on much needed sleep yesterday and napped for several hours.

Lately I’ve been growing close to my dancer friends. Here’s a shout-out to Yaz, Becca, Nic, Gene, and Jodi! Thanks for being awesome. I’ve been spending a lot of time with Nic and Yaz lately in particular. Thank you for being excellent friends through thick and thin. To my gamer friends in Duluth, I don’t get to see you as much, but you are all wonderful as well- stay nerdy, my friends (Kaelt, Jeff, Ty, and crew!) Dancing and gaming have earned me many friends, and I’m grateful to all of you!

The weather keeps flipping between warm and cold, but I have had about three bonfires so far this spring. The most memorable fire involved Yazmin, Becca, Gene, Nic, and I. We burned mementos from the past to help heal from past relationships, to leave behind old habits, and so forth. It was quite cathartic and a good bonding experience; more plans for future fires are in the works. Plus, we ended the night with a spontaneous kitchen dance party, which is the best kind, if you wanted to know my opinion!

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One of the first bonfires of the year

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Hiking at Houghton Falls recently with Yaz

I’m looking forward to warmer weather so I can exercise outdoors. Once summer is here, I have set goals of walking/jogging three miles around twice a week, on top of going to the gym, doing yoga, and dancing each week. I also want to bike ride occasionally. If I plan it right, I will be exercising about six days a week with one day of rest. For anyone who is interested I can post a schedule of what exercises I do on which day of the week in a future blog post- just let me know!

I am continuing to become happier, healthier, and more confident in myself in many ways, shapes, and forms. Self-improvement is a continual process. It’s nice knowing that I’m a work in progress. Life would be stagnant if we were already in our best condition emotionally/physically/mentally/spiritually/etc.

Here’s to more dancing and warmer weather!

-Sarah

Winter update

Hello!

It’s about time for another update.

Winter is here, though spring is getting closer each day. The days are gradually growing longer. When I leave work at 5:30 pm it’s not completely pitch black outside. I can usually catch the sunset- it’s a great feeling after having the sun set at 4 pm in the dead of winter.

My new year’s resolutions were to stay active and to be more outgoing. So far I’ve been doing both. I attend a weekly D&D group on Sundays or Mondays that meets for about four hours at a time (we take gaming seriously I suppose). I do yoga on an almost daily basis (with occasional rest days, or I’ll skip if I’m doing another physical activity.) I dance every so often (I’ve taken a few different classes). I also have meet a group of friends in the Twin Ports area who I’m getting to know (new D&D/gaming friends!)

My best friend Mari visited recently. I saw her at the end of February when she landed in the states and hung out with her that day. She spent a week or so visiting college friends. During the last four days of her stay, she spent time at my house with my family and I. We had a blast catching up. While we didn’t go out (neither of us are big fans of outdoor winter activities), we passed the time watching movies, funny videos, having drinks, and chatting away the hours.

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I am thinking more long term about where I want to live and where I might want to move, but nothing is clear yet. I have been kicking around some ideas in my head, but I don’t think I’m ready to move anywhere just yet. I’m considering Minneapolis, and more longer term moving out to the West Coast. The soonest I would move is this summer or fall. We shall see what happens.

Until next time,

Sarah

My first month in Japan

Life has been a whirlwind since I last wrote. It is difficult to find the time to sit down and write, or even to find time to sit at all, for that matter. I have been on my feet a lot lately.

I am about to open a new English school in Idogaya, Yokohama. I live a short distance from my school. Starting tomorrow, I will be giving demonstration lessons to students. The school officially opens on the 28th of June. I will be working weekends for the next two weeks to do promotional work, such as handing out flyers to people on the streets and possibly putting flyers in people’s mailboxes.

So, Sarah, you haven’t even gone to your new school yet. What have you been doing for the past month? Great question. I had a week of training in Aobadai back in mid May. After that, I spent two weeks training at Motosumiyoshi. The following week, I had more classroom training in Hoshikawa. Finally, I spent a week and two days at Musashi-kosugi.

Aside from training, I have been able to find some time to get out and see Tokyo and Yokohama. It’s been quite the adventure. Training has been stressful and I have been awfully homesick lately, but my adventures make everything worth it. Allow me to touch on some of the highlights since I last wrote.

  1. I embraced my inner nerd at the Ikebukuro Pokemon Center (May 21st).13256537_10153579238537727_5941886529827482303_n.jpg
  2. I found a small slice of peace within Tokyo at Meiji Jingu Shrine (May 23rd).13267982_10153583220012727_925948059940576925_n
  3. I sang karaoke and ate home cooked Japanese food (May 29th).13327372_10153595174512727_7469379530191468320_n.jpg
  4. I reunited with two of my best friends, who I hadn’t seen in 4 years (June 6th). We took purikura photos, had lunch, and sang karaoke!13407327_10153610436467727_1137460386214499751_n.jpg
  5. I moved into my apartment where I will be living for the next 11 months (June 6th).13325682_10153610611377727_3696651919611866427_n.jpg
  6. I met my best friend Mari’s family (on two occasions now). Photo is from June 19th. Mari’s mom cooked us an awesome dinner with lots of cheesy pizza, which is one of my favorite foods!13417451_10153638612027727_1315269840838549587_n.jpg

I went to Kamakura to see the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine and to see the Daibutsu (giant Buddha) Buddha at Kōtaku-in. My friends and I even witnessed a Japanese wedding ceremony at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu!13435419_10153639537802727_1267096801897433082_n13451001_10153639615907727_617950774966733908_nMy experience has been very incredible so far. I’ve had the time of my life, have been stressed out, cried a lot, made new friends, and generally experienced a wide range of emotions that comes from starting life in a new country. I’ve been so busy that over a month has passed seemingly in the blink of an eye. Already, this is the longest I have gone without seeing my family and some of my friends back home.

I am still getting settled into my apartment in Idogaya. Today was the first day I had the chance to explore the place I live. I found a few Lawson stores near my house, and went to a park on the top of the city. It’s only about a 10 minute walk, but the view from the top of my city is beautiful. I want to hang out pictures in my apartment and decorate the place for it to be my home away from home.

Best,

Sarah

 

 

 

Dos días y tengo que empacar/Two days and I need to pack

Hello,

I apologize for not posting yesterday, even though I wasn’t all that busy necessarily. My friends Lucas and Ash met up with me for coffee and brunch in town. With the rate I’m going at, I’ll probably gain ten pounds over the holiday season.

Today I have been in a mad scramble to get things ready for my trip to Oaxaca. I withdrew money from the bank for my trip, paid my internet bill, did some laundry, and started packing. The clothing I plan to bring is set aside waiting to be loaded into my suitcase. My books, liquid items, an extra change of clothes, and other personal items are ready to be placed in my carry-on. I have anti-nausea medicine, earplugs, music, crossword puzzles, two books, and a journal to help me pass the time/ease me into my upcoming flights. I also hope to buy my school textbooks either today or tomorrow for next semester, so they can arrive at my apartment in time. I hope to avoid ordering them at the last minute when I return from my trip.

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I may not blog again until I’m on a big jet plane, or when I arrive in Mexico! I’m divided 50/50 on whether or not to bring my laptop, (it’s a bit heavy) so I may be blogging from my iPod touch and using internet cafes when I can.

Nos vemos, (see you soon)

-Sarah

Cuatro días/Four days

Four days until Oaxaca. I will soon be transitioning from Wisconsin winter into a balmy 75-80 degrees. There could have been progress made today. However, I instead decided to spend my day with one of my best friends, Lucas, who is like a brother to me. At around noon, he came over and we went out for coffee and cocoa at a coffee shop in town.

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The two of us caught up over drink and conversation. Lucas was over very briefly yesterday evening, but we didn’t have the chance to chat until today (another friend was over at the time, and Lucas was running late to an event, so he could only stop by and say hello). Catching up over a hot beverage was a great way to reunite. After sipping our drinks, we headed to his house in the country.

When we were children, we used to be next door neighbors for eight years. Whenever I visit his house, I consider myself to be at home. His sister, Mar, was spread out on the lounge chair when we arrived. She explained to us that she was taking a sick day from work. We joined her in watching Harry Potter on TV. I soon found myself sucked in.

The sun came out for a brief while, gracing us with its presence. It seems the sun has been reclusive as of late. Lucas and I took advantage of it and went for a walk. However, despite the sun, the temps sat in the 20s- cool compared to the unseasonably warm temps in the 40s that we’ve been experiencing lately. We took in the winter scenery; pine trees rustling in the breeze, the sun shining through the woods onto the fresh, glistening snow. There are so many pines in the country, and with the snow, it looks like a Christmas card.

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Wisconsin, I’ll miss you at least a little bit while I’m gone.

-Sarah

Christmas is coming!

Hello, friends!

Christmas is quickly approaching. I finished up some last minute shopping yesterday. I also caught up with an old friend (Danielle) who I hadn’t seen since high school, and we reminisced on old times and updated each other on where we’re at now in our lives.

Today, my friend Anna came to visit me at home. She’s studying cosmetology, so I gladly let her cut my hair for me (she took off about five inches). Here’s to creating a fresh start in 2015!

Danielle, Anna and I also met up for tea and hot chocolate at a bakery, and we ran into other old friends there as well from high school.

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Short and sassy hair, works for me!

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Last night I started thinking of things I need to pack. Above are some of the items I purchased while at Wallgreens yesterday. I’m hoping to avoid boredom on the plane, along with motion sickness; the latter which tends to affect me the most while travelling, especially on airplanes. I drug my suitcase out of hiding, but I haven’t put anything in it just yet. I still have Christmas presents I need to wrap first.

Tomorrow, my parents and I are going to be visiting my grandparents, in Duluth, swinging by to pick up my boyfriend so he can meet some of the family. My aunt, uncle, cousins, and cousin’s wife should all be there as well. It will be a delight to see them again.

After having many Christmas cookies and hot cocoa in my belly, I believe a cat nap is in order.

See you soon, and happy holidays. May your new year be bright and happy.

-Sarah