When I am older, maybe around 70, and my earlier years are a soft fuzzy memory, and someone happens to ask me what I remember from 2018, these will be the memories that will stand out.
2018 is the year that first of all, I got my PhD. My parents and brothers, and my friend Walter, came to Japan for the first time to attend my graduation ceremony.
2018 is the year I turned 30 and Jeremy turned 5.
In 2018, I went to Las Vegas for the first time (with my friend Bee) and had a fabulous time that included seeing Mariah Carey in concert from 2nd row seats, a trip to the grand canyon and some mandatory night-time fun 😉
2018 is the year that I finally cleared my HELB loan and I even got a certificate to prove it. To be honest, I don’t know if this will be an important memory in 40 years’ time, but at the time of receiving the certificate, I felt great!
2018 is also the year I took the Japanese Language Proficiency Test for the first time and I passed the N2 Level. I also won 3rd place in a speech contest early in the year.
In the summer of 2018, I climbed Mt. Haku with 3 of my friends, hiking uphill (upmountain?) for 7 hours, sleeping in a large dorm room with like 30 other people, waking up at 4am the following day to catch the sunrise at the peak (which we didn’t get to see because we couldn’t stand the cold any longer), having breakfast and trekking downhill for another 6 hours.
I also went paragliding (tandem) for the first time.
My Japanese friend Akiko got married in June this year and Jeremy was a train boy at the wedding, although he thinks he is the one who married Akiko. Another friend called Siddhant got married this year too!
My best friend Phyll also got married in December this year (although I was unfortunately, unable to attend the wedding.) The bachelorette party that I helped organize was great fun though! And we did do a photoshoot at the Nairobi Arboretum. On that day, it seems that literally everyone had come to the gardens not to enjoy nature, but to have their photos taken. A tourist asked us if it there was some kind of photography event, and my friend replied yeah, it was photography day in Nairobi!
When I went back to Kenya in late October, I was joined by my Japanese parents, Mr. and Mrs. N. and their daughter. It was their first time in Kenya (and Africa in general). Overall, they had a great time (I think). They were only around for 4 days so the highlights were the Nairobi National Park, the Bomas of Kenya and the Masai Market.
If 2018 was marked by my finally completing formal learning, then it also marked my transition back into the working world. I also made the decision to remain in Japan after my graduation, which means I will only get to see my family in Kenya about once or twice a year. 😦
The transition wasn’t as smooth as I thought, because being in the real world is expensive you guys! Try working a part-time (postdoc) job while paying rent and utilities (in winter, the heating costs can be quite high), while at the same time saving for a move to Tokyo. Rent in the student housing was quite subsidized so my costs rose exponentially post graduation and I wasn’t prepared. I had to request to move in with my Japanese parents so I can save for the big move ahead in March next year (I shall do a blogpost on what it costs to move to Tokyo). They are literally angels walking on this Earth. I know I will never be able to pay them back for their kindness and I can only hope to pass along the acts of kindness whenever I am in a position to do so for others. I should probably do a post on what it’s like to live in a Japanese household, but Mr. and Mrs. N are far from a typical Japanese couple. For starters, they just turned 70 and made a trip to Africa! for the first time this year. If you have ever been to Japan, you will realize that to many Japanese people, Africa (yes, not many people have any idea of the specific countries) is a hot continent far, far away from Japan. It might as well be a continent on Mars. So that should tell you something about Mr. and Mrs.N., or just Otoosan and Okaasan as I call them.
I am optimistic that 2019 will offer new adventures and milestones, and I can’t wait to share those with you. There is the move to Tokyo and all the exciting possibilities the city promises (bottomless Tinder swiping lol), the new job that I will talk about once I start working there, Jeremy starting elementary school, not forgetting traveling adventures whenever time and budget will allow.
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!
Here’s to 2019!