There's nothing more exciting than visiting a country that I've fallen in-love with-- despite knowing how flawed the place is, I love it. I'm talking about Japan, where I studied abroad in for a one semester. Admittedly, I had all my doubts about it before I went there for the first time. Sure, I love Japanese music, fashion, and manga, but I knew that won't get me anywhere or very far if I lived there for half-a-year just based on that.
I am also Asian, but what most people do not realize is that each country in Asia are very, very different from each other and we would never think of ourselves as "one" unifying race. I may get mistaken for one a lot of times, but I am not and will never be Japanese. I don't think I ever want to be Japanese, because I enjoy being Filipino way too much!
I love comic books and Japanese manga is no exception. I watch quite a number of anime too, of course, and play video games. Though I am quite proud to be a geek (hence this website!), I wouldn't want the word 'otaku' to define who I am. I didn't sit my ass in front of a television in Japan the whole time and watched anime-- much to the surprise of many people, actually. I didn't want to! I wanted to really experience living there.
As the first month of my life there started to pass, I immediately realized how much I loved it over there. I ended up living with the most beautiful people, my host family, and making friends with both Japanese and fellow foreigners. I hold them all close to my heart even to this day. The atmosphere in the city was surreal and full of contradictions. Japan is full of contradictions! I appreciated getting to be a spectator of it all and getting to observe what makes Japan so unique.
I doubt I would ever want to be completely integrated in the system that makes Japan function. It is too narrow for my taste... I mean, I already complain and whine about how repressive the Western social structure is!... but unique opportunities and getting to do what you really want to do is very rare in Japan-- especially for a Filipino girl.
Next month, I will be visiting the country again and I can not wait. I will never live the rest of my life over there, but a dosage of Japanese life here and there would always be welcomed to me!