The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. For many, including myself at times, that seems to be true. Some people realize that the "greener grass" thing may not always be true and some never seem to realize that.
When I was 25 and working in a high stress IT job in Canada, I sought greener pastures. I found them in South Korea (a place that has relatively few actual pastures). I found it in a new culture, new food, new friends and travel. Going to Korea was an exciting adventure for me. Life suddenly seemed (and probably was) more exciting, meaningful, fun and downright interesting. Eventually though, days in Korea seemed much like days in Canada. I woke up in the morning. I made a pot of coffee. I had a shower and shaved. I went to work. I came home from work and made dinner. I watched bit torrents of American television shows. I watched Canadian shows on the CTV and CBC websites before they began to geo-block them (I'm still bitter about that!).
Life became routine and just like living anywhere else. There was a difference though. I began to feel the frustration of the language barrier. Even more aggravating was the cultural barrier. The way my Korean coworkers and bosses thought and conducted day to day business began to drive me nuts! The wonderful shades of green started to become brown. It was time to move on. I went back to Canada. I lived in Ottawa and got my Bachelor of Education. After five and some years of teaching children I became a "real teacher."
It is now 2011 and I am going on my third year of living in Japan. I like Japan. It is definitely a pretty cool place. The history, culture, cuisine and many other things are spectacular. I can honestly admit though that I have never been a Japanophile or "Japanfan." I came to Japan because I met an amazing woman from Osaka and followed her here. She is now my wife.
Life is indeed good here, but it isn't a sparkly, wonder-filled existence for me. I work at a school where I would pretty much teach just like I would in Canada. I wake up in the morning and get dressed just like in Canada. I make a pot of coffee and then head to work. I of course see somewhat stranger and slightly more intriguing things on a daily basis than I might in Canada, but things are quite similar (aside from all the Japanese people).
Day after day though, I get so many messages from (especially teenagers) who are hardcore Japan fans! Often they may not be happy with their state of affairs and want a change. For some reason they believe that all of life's problems will be solved if they can just get to Japan! Everything will be better if I can go to Japan. I won't be bullied, I won't have to listen to my boring parents, I won't have to eat crappy food, every moment of life will be an adventure, etc.
Sadly; bullying does happen in Japan (to a much more evil extent that you can imagine…..massive teenage suicide rate). Parents annoy kids (just like in every country/society in the world). Parents are boring too!
Japan is place. You cannot base it on anime (Japanese cartoons) or manga (Japanese comic books) you have read. It is a place just like the United States is a place, just like Canada is a place, just like Britain is a place, etc. Life isn't perfect here. I like living here, but there are always things I can complain about. Then again, I love Canada, but there are always things to complain about there as well.
Long story short: The grass always seems greener. If you are really stoked to head to Korea or Japan, good luck and have fun. BEWARE though…neither place is perfect. Far from it. No place is perfect and every place has it's own set of problems. Not to be a negative Nelly; all places have positives as well!
I am very happy that I have chosen an "international" life. I have been abroad since early 2002. I have to admit that I often long for my home in Canada.
Although change may be a good fit for some folks, the grass may not always be greener for others!