Next month will be my nine year anniversary of coming to Asia. Now of course there was a one year break thrown in there when I came back to Canada to get my teaching credentials, but I have lived eight out of the last nine years in Asia. This was never my plan. In late 2001, when I hatched my plan to move here, I was working as a software developer in Canada and only planned to come for one year. After that one year, I would head back to Canada, refreshed, travel bug having been fed and resume my career as a 3D modeler. Eight years later I am now a certified teacher and still here!
I spent my first five years bouncing between three cities in South Korea and for the last (almost) three years here in Kobe, Japan.
In this post, wanted to write about the Kevin who arrived in Asia in February 2002 versus the Kevin who lives in Asia in January 2011.
Then (2002): I had a small apartment in Ilsan, South Korea.
Now (2011): I have a bigger apartment in Kobe, Japan.
Then (2002): I was getting pumped up for the World Cup coming to Korea/Japan.
Now (2011): No World Cup this year. Could care less about football/soccer.
Then (2002): Was struggling with crappy Korean language skills.
Now (2011): I am struggling with crappy Japanese skills.
Then: Was single and looking for love.
Now: Happily married with a beautiful son.
Then: Ate out at restaurants most nights.
Now: Eat at home every night.
Then: Eating out at restaurants was really cheap.
Now: It's not so cheap.
Then: Lived in a city with few fellow foreigners and very little English around me.
Now: Live in a city with many foreigners and English everywhere.
Then: Was awe-struck by everything I saw.
Now: Somewhat awe-struck, but not so much.
Then: Was 26 years old.
Now: 35 years old.
Then: I trained in Tae Kwon Do.
Now: I enjoy long-distance running.
Then: Worked from 4:00pm to 10:00pm.
Now: Work from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Then: Smoked heavily and went to bars several times a week.
Now: Don't smoke, rarely go to a bar.
Then: Kimchi everywhere.
Now: No kimchi.
Then: Was told everyday by locals why Japan was bad and America wasn't much better.
Now: Simply don't don't hear that sort of talk.
Then: Had a crappy boss.
Now: Have a boss that respects me a lot.
Then: Guys desperately tried to show me that they were stronger than me at the gym.
Now: Guys don't even notice me at the gym (they're to busy working out).
Then: Everyone around me spoke Korean.
Now: Everyone around me speaks Japanese.
Then: Wasn't a very productive/responsible person.
Now: Am both!
Then: Thought Korean food was great.
Now: Think Japanese food is great.
Then: Kim Jong-il sucked.
Now: He still sucks.
Then: Traveled a lot around Asia.
Now: Save up for trips back to Canada.
Then: Think about the short term.
Now: Thinking about the long term.
Then: Was a PC guy.
Now: Am a Mac guy.
Then: No such thing as You Tube.
Now: I'm a You Tube partner.
Then: Missed Tim Hortons.
Now: Miss Tim Hortons.
Life is different indeed. I may be still in Asia after many years, but as you can see, life for me in Japan is completely different than life for me in Korea. Some of that of course has to do with the time (2002 vs 2011), some has to do with the culture and of course, some has to do with my age.
Long story short; life was good then and life is good now. I suppose that the life I lead is just completely different!
Happy Reading :)