I’m a hermit.

Hello, everyone. What lovely weather we’re having. Oh? What’s that? It’s cold and miserable and it’s been sleeting? Well you see, I rarely go outside these days, so I wouldn’t know.

I exaggerate of course. Actually, no I don’t. I literally pop over the road to go to class, come straight back home and procrastinate on doing the shopping for as long as conceivably possible.

It’s not a bad life, a hermit’s life. It’s a biological instinct, is it not? To curl up in your toasty cave, warm and cosy, safe from the harsh world full of bitterness, danger and disappointment.

It’s easy to be a hermit if you try. Basically, have no friends and no life, and hide under the excuse of ‘studying really hard because it’s your final year’. Which you actually are doing, because fuck, you really need a 2.1 to show for the past 4 years of floating by like a crinkly brown Autumn leaf sinking blissfully into the calm canal waters before being brutally smashed apart by the oncoming big black canal gates and cascading in tatters into the thrashing black waters below.

We are all Autumn leaves.

In other news, I became a vegetarian, started studying Thai, and have a job interview for a graduate job with a Japanese company next weekend. Go me. This is Naive in Nippon 2.0: Blog of the Rising Sun. The Wise Wasabi. The Kawaii Kareer-girl. The Tokyo Twat.

The vegetarian thing’s only been going on 3 weeks or so, but it’s going well. What happened was, I saw Stranger Things and was so disturbed by one particular image I decided I never wanted to feast on prey again. Or wear their skin. Or drink their milk. Too bad I fucking love milk and drink it by the gallon. Veganism’s the next level in my evolution. My evolution towards being a perfect, faultless being, obviously.

I started studying Thai as my elective module at university. Turns out, I’m alright at it. Ah, I love those moments when you wonder if you should have spent the past three years of uni studying something else. Haha, just kidding. No seriously what am I doing with my life.

I also started studying Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis. I already think too much as it is, spending all my time in my own company, and now I think I’m going mad and I have no idea what’s normal and what’s not normal anymore. It’s brilliant.

So yeah, Brexit happened. That was a thing.

Trump also happened. That was also a thing.

Mum’s coming over tomorrow. We’ll go watch Fantastic Beasts and she’ll invade my nest in search of a bed for the night. My room is surprisingly tidy and well-ordered for a hermit’s cave. Mess is too distracting.

As a professional hermit, it also helps to have a job on the internet, as it means you can work from home, and never have to go out ever.

It’d be really cool if my flat was made of one-way glass so that I could see everything outside, like a giant window, but they couldn’t see me. And they’ve invented solar-panel glass that’s transparent and absorbs more solar energy than the old type, so I could essentially live in a solar-glass box and not have to be outside, but it would feel like I was outside, so I wouldn’t feel so much like a hermit when I actually am.

In the Thai alphabet, which has 44 consonants (and a separate alphabet for vowels but we won’t get into that), they pair each letter with a word. Kind of like ‘A is for Apple’, ‘B is for Ballsack’, all that stuff. The 39th letter is called ‘Sor Rü-sii’ (simply read as an ‘s’ sound), which essentially means ‘hermit’.

Look at it: ษ

It looks like me curling up on my bed and never wanting to experience real life.


Mental breakdown in 3, 2, 1…

way too much pressure

It’s the last week of the academic year starting from tomorrow. I have four exams (that I know of), then I should be done by the end of the month. For some reason, my Japanese speaking exam wasn’t added to my exam timetable, so I had to search for it myself, hidden away somewhere on the VLE, and I’m still left wondering if there’s supposed to be a listening exam as well. I’m a flustered, quivering wreck.

Aside from preparing for exams, I only have one major bit of coursework left to do, which is a 3,000-word essay for Narrative of Japanese Modernity: Fiction and Film. I’m thinking of writing it on the 1996 Shunji Iwai film Swallowtail Butterfly. I can’t do it on Ghost in the Shell like I originally thought (damn), so instead I’ll make GITS (lol) the main point of my discussion topic for my Japanese speaking exam in a couple of weeks. I may center it around the casting of ScarJo in the new live action adaption.

Speaking of speaking, I’ve acquired a couple of Japanese language partners over the last few weeks, who I chat with on LINE/Facebook and speak with over Skype. Both long-distance friends, living in Japan. I have Japanese friends here in the UK, and other Japanese friends with whom I speak regularly online, but it’s gotten to the point where I feel like I can’t converse with them in Japanese. These are the main problems I have:

  1. I find it particularly jarring speaking Japanese out in an English setting. Really unnatural.
  2. Some friends are much better at English than I am at Japanese, so our default conversation language is English, and for me, struggling to converse in my comparatively poor Japanese is mortifying.
  3. Because we’re friends, they don’t always correct my mistakes. But then, I don’t always ask.
  4. Japanese exchange students came here to study English, so even if I try to converse with them in Japanese, they reply in English.
  5. As a native English speaker, I have a horrible lazy habit of morphing the conversation back into English once I run out of steam. It’s a globally-recognized language and a lot English speakers are not required to learn a second language in school, so I feel native English speakers tend to be much lazier linguistically than people of other tongues.

So, er, yeah. Mainly the problems stem from me being awkward, embarrassed and a lazy native anglophone. I feel like I never had this problem before entering university, though. When I was learning Japanese at A-Level in sixth form, I was really enthusiastic about the language, worked my butt off and got an A*. In contrast, ever since starting university, I feel like I’m floundering rather than excelling.

With the new language partners, I’ve been getting much more well-needed practice than I was before, which is great. But in an effort to keep up with their native speed I stutter, forget really basic vocabulary and grammar, or start to talk about a topic that’s way too ambitious and then continuously falter each time I realize I can’t say what I want to say. Plus my accent slips embarrassingly and it’s a wonder they can even understand what I’m saying.

I practiced with one of them for my latest speech class presentation, but it was still no use. Public speaking makes me incredibly flustered so even though I’d practiced, my mind went blank, I just stared down at my sheet of paper with my notes and basically mumbled my way through the whole thing, occasionally looking up to glance at my teacher’s despairing face. It was maybe the worst presentation I’d done so far. Probably only worth a 3/10. My speaking test in two weeks will be worth 60% of the whole module, and I envision myself crumbling in front of both the Japanese teachers who will be there in the exam.

Never have I had so much exam anxiety than in the years I’ve been in university. The pressure is too much, and I’m not even in my final year yet. (That’s next year, oh boy.) And don’t even mention the English Lit side of my degree. There’s so much material and so little time. I’ve been borderline hysterical every exam season and coursework deadline I’ve approached. I am hindered by perfectionism and the desperate desire to do well, because all I can think about is that I’m not good enough and I’m going to fail. A few things in my personal life have also made it incredibly difficult to concentrate as of late. I am consumed with nihilism and bitterness and self-loathing. I often think it would be a stroke of luck if I happened to step in front of a speeding car.

I have to keep telling myself things to keep myself from falling into a cesspool of pessimism. Things like, it’s not a race; stop comparing yourself to others. Also, even if you do fail, it’s not the end of the world. And, come on, you want to be a fiction writer, not a scholar. Calm the fuck down.

But the perfectionism persists even in that area. My ideas for stories all seem completely vapid and contrived. I’m not even confident in my technical abilities as a writer anymore, as is evident from the editorial errors and endless babbling in my blog posts.

What was even the point of this article? Probably just another way to procrastinate on starting my 3,000-word essay. But it’s more writing than I’ve done in a long while.

On a lighter note, I’ve been winding down lately by watching some classic movies and been reading/watching film articles/reviews. A more productive way to waste time. I feel like I’m expanding my film education and teaching myself to look beyond the dimension of purely story and look at things like cinematography, music composition, framing, and so on. Though the story will always be the most important aspect, of course. I’m going to nip to the library then possibly watch A Clockwork Orange before bed. Not the lightest movie, but I need some more Kubrick in my portfolio.

I’m always changing my mind about the future, but another thought for after graduation was work for a year and save up money, maybe as an ALT in Japan, before doing another exchange and studying film for a year, possibly in Colorado. A bit ambitious, and just a thought, but that would be insanely fun.

I shall end this post by imitating Obama at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, though of course with far less charisma and far more cringey awkwardness. 

Bethan out.

*drops the mic*



(Told you.)

“Everything we do is political.” Discuss.

Aside from having a bad case of the sniffles and finally getting a haircut (it had been about a year and it had gotten to the point where my split ends were getting split ends), I recently submitted an essay. It was on one of the letters from Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark (1796) for one of my university modules: Literature of the Romantic period. This was probably the hardest piece of coursework I’ve had to submit so far, as this was a piece of work I hadn’t studied in seminars, I also had to think of the question and angle by myself as there were no set questions, and I lack confidence in my own interpretive abilities. I have a strong feeling that 90% of what I wrote was utter bollocks. But I guess we’ll see.

I was particularly interested in analysing Wollstonecraft’s works as I am actually kind of named after her. My first name is ‘Bethan’, chosen by my dad, but my mum chose ‘Mary’ for my middle name, and allegedly it was after Wollstonecraft, the first woman to publish feminist theory, alive during the time of the French Revolution. Her daughter, Mary Shelley, went on to become the author of Frankenstein (1818), which apart from being one of my favourite works continues to have a significant influence on modern pop culture and is known all over the world. No pressure. Will I release something equally noteworthy in 2020? It’s unlikely. I was born about 200 years too late. Bloody Mary.

But anyway, I noticed while reading A Short Residence there were many parallels between Wollstonecraft’s writing style and my own when I was writing my daily blog from Japan. Not to honk my own horn or anything. I’m in no way suggesting my writing is as good as that of the critically acclaimed ‘original feminist’. But I noticed she often observed the landscape then would reflect back in on herself, which made up the larger part of the experience, it seemed, and I think I unconsciously did the same during my year in Osaka. In Denmark, she often glanced over ‘grandeur’ in favour of waxing poetic about some nondescript cornfields and the less-aesthetic margins of society, swept under the rug by the ‘king and prince royal’. It made for an interesting read. You can’t learn everything about a country from a travel guide, which accentuates all the prettiest places, or know everything about a country’s history just from learning about the monarchs and the battles. Wollstonecraft took the landscape and from it managed to form a political stance.

According to Marcia Tillotson, A Short Residence ‘reveals Wollstonecraft at her worst, trying to impress two different audiences – her lover and the book’s buyers – with two different things, her sensibility and her intelligence’. (“Recent Work on Mary Wollstonecraft.” Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly 12p. 60.) When she refers to the ‘lover’ she means Imlay, the one Wollstonecraft was writing these letters to before compiling them and editing them into a volume which became A Short Residence. People didn’t understand the reason for her trip to Scandinavia for nearly two hundred years, until it was revealed circa 1987 that she’d gone on Imlay’s behalf to recover a lost/stolen cargo ship. Imlay at that point had lost interest in her and apparently managed to keep the Channel between them most of the time, as well as have affairs with other women. (Arse.)

I was kind of surprised to hear all that and then read A Short Residence after reading her intelligent, heavily sarcastic response to Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, and hearing about her political theory in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Maybe Tillotson has a point when she says it reveals Wollstonecraft at her worst. She also mentions ‘on the occasions when [Wollstonecraft] forgets to be at once an unusual woman, who reasons vigorously and an ideal woman, who feels strongly, she writes better’.

I also felt like my ramblings during my residence in Osaka were not that well-written, not only for the mere lack of proof-reading and my rapidly degrading English, and at times often whimsical and childish talk topics, but for similar reasons in that I often lost focus, tried to please multiple audiences with sensibility and intelligence (HA! I hear my father cry), and often came away from descriptions of the country itself to talk about my own personal feelings and political stances. But Virginia Sapiro, in contrast to Tillotson, calls A Short Residence ‘the only writing of Wollstonecraft that is lovely to read’. (A Vindication of Political Virtue: The political theory of Mary Wollstonecraft (1992) p. 36.) She certainly seems very human and flawed, and is swept away by imagination. As I often am. I guess it was nice to feel close to a famous writer of the Romantic period, and my namesake, when in reality I’m just a small-minded rambling wannabe with no idea what I’m talking about.

A classmate of mine on the Japanese half of my university course once asserted to me in our first year that ‘everything we do is political’, or politically motivated, whatever, which is an assertion which has stuck with me. That sounds a bit generalist, like in Donnie Darko when they have that class which implies that everything we do is motivated either by ‘love’ or fear’. You might as well say everything we do is scientific, or that everything we do can somehow be grouped into one big category. If it’s under the category ‘things we do’, then yes. Also, is a little three-year-old girl painting a picture of her cat ‘political’? (Oh, but, she likes cats, and she’s asserting she likes cats, therefore it’s political!) Yeah, I don’t buy that. Even just me trying to be a good person and trying to be someone I admire, is that politically motivated? Because it shows that I think a certain kind of behaviour is morally correct, over other forms of behaviour? The definition of ‘political’ is probably used quite broadly here. It sounds like a good, simple assertion to say ‘everything we do is political’, but I don’t know if it holds up when analysed. Kind of like Tumblr philosophy. But that’s another article for another time.

Your thoughts?

Sketch Blog #1 – Taking Requests!

Merry Leap Year, everybody!

I don’t know why, but I love the number 4, and things being split into quarters. So I love how every four years we account for the fact the earth completes an orbit around the sun in 365.25 days by creating an extra little pocket of time. Well, not CREATING time, but taking four quarters and joining them together into a secret little time nugget.

I like to imagine a future when humans have spread out among the stars and started forming intergalactic relations, possibly with aliens, possibly our descendants who migrated to other planets. Well anyway, I like to imagine them taking a tour trip to Earth, and having the ‘leap year’ explained to them as part of ‘Earth culture’. Or ‘Earth geography’, whatever. Then they’d explain old rituals and customs and how time was measured thousands of years ago, and  celebrating Equinox and the Solstice and the like (splitting the year into four equal parts, thank you Pagans).

I also like the number 21. It’s my age, and it’s also the date when Winter/Summer Solstice and Spring/Autumn Equinox are celebrated. It’s also half of the number 42, which we all know is the answer to life, the universe and everything.

The number 4 is unlucky in Chinese and Japanese culture, though. It’s read like ‘shi’, which sounds similar to the pronunciation of ‘death’.

ANYWAY. I didn’t come here to talk about Pagans and the number 4.


I’ve started drawing again. Just as a hobby, and to experiment with new techniques, and to kind of keep the creative juices flowing. So I’m going to start posting a monthly sketch blog on here (maybe even bimonthly, if I draw a lot), of all the little doodles, sketches and drawings I compile over time.

Don’t expect anything of amazingly high quality, because as I say, these are just sketches. Mainly done on MS Paint (boy, that takes me back). Basically I don’t have very good drawing software (I use Adobe Flash and it can be a pain in the arse) and MS Paint simply feels the closest to doodling in pencil/biro like I would on my school notebooks. Maybe I’ll post some of those doodles too, hehe.

Because my imagination feels so dead these days I’ve decided to take requests too, or even just idea suggestions.

If you want me to sketch you something, leave a comment on this blog, tweet me (@naiveinnippon), or a message me on Facebook (Naïve In Nippon).

And without further ado, here are this month’s sketches (posted in no particular order):


Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, A Series of Unfortunate Events, sans faces for added mystery >:3

boy on a ship

A little boy looking over the edge of a ship/tall building as his parents fight in the background.

chloe the illustrator

Request for CS: ‘Draw me’. So I did. 🙂 Another possible request was to draw the MHS gang updated but I’m getting a haircut in a few days so at that point it wouldn’t look very updated anymore, ahaha.


A little tribute to CL in her ‘Baddest Female’ (나쁜 기집애) music video. She is a queen and I worship her. 

czarina and rena

Rena and Czarina. Two original characters from this idea I had for a manga a few years ago, and might still one day draw. 

darth vader vs harry potter

Request for RM: ‘What about something Star Wars? Or Harry Potter, lol’. So I combined the two. I hope you like it, haha. xD

Freestyle paint sketch of a girl in the shower

A woman in the shower. I, um, don’t really know why I drew this. I think it was to practice drawing the female form in a flattering manner and also to practice drawing wet hair. Yeah, that sounds about right. Did I succeed? Probably not.

Freestyle paint sketch of a girl

A girl crouching. A little CL-inspired with the spiky eyeliner and urban attire.

Freestyle paint sketch of a guy and girl kissing

A kiss. It’s really hard to draw people kissing but this one turned out okay I think.

Freestyle paint sketch of a guy

Some dude. I’m pretty bad at drawing guys. I need more practice.

Freestyle paint sketch of a superhero

A lil non-starter of a cute little superhero type. Looks a bit like Hit Girl, doesn’t she?

girl in cap

Another little abandoned doodle of a girl in a cap.

Mono revamped - sketch

The beginning sketch of an original character I created when I was 15, called ‘Mono’, drawn in Flash. Since then I layered it up and it became my cover photo on Facebook.

Mono revamped

The above sketch, layered up and completed. Still looks kinda shit, though I can’t entirely blame Flash, I think it’s mainly because I’m lazy.

paint sketch - black and white girl

This came outta nowhere. She’s a cutie. Any ideas for names? So far all I can think of is ‘Anna’, because she reminds me a bit of the Japanese singer Anna Tsuchiya. 

paint sketch - girl with frowny face

Moody lil cutie.

paint sketch - queen qwerty

‘Queen Qwerty’, a character I came up with on the spot. This was an attempt to come away from manga style and create something more simple. Looks a bit like a cross between The Powerpuff Girls and South Park.

princess froggy

A cute little princess character I came up with, originally based on a genderbent drawing of a friend. 

The next three drawings were requests, and they are somewhat, ahem, NSFW (aka a teensy bit porny), but I really like how they turned out, so I decided to post them to this blog after all. Look at them if you will, or not, up to you. The requests were of something Marvel/superhero girly/a cute butt. So in tribute to the new DP movie I draw Lady Deadpool, also Smash Girl from the YT animation ‘Power Trip’, and R.Mika and Cammy from Street Fighter.

drivebysmash girl and captain crashstreet fighter butts

waltz of the flowers

Last but not least, I had Tchaikovsky’s ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ in my head and so came up with this while listening to it. Lovely piece of classical music.


So there you have it! These are all works from the past month of sketching. The simplest, most incomplete doodles maybe took 5 minutes or less, and the one that took the longest was the final NSFW pic of the SF girls, but that still only took 1.5 hours. The not-a-sketch but complete-work-of-art which was the Mono Facebook cover took forever, between 5-10 hours, I think. Though I definitely procrastinated which probably added to the total time.

That’s all, folks! If you have a request, or a suggestion on something to draw, leave a comment on this blog, my Twitter, or my Facebook page. See ya!


It’s a New Year – Regrets and Resolutions

I started 2016 with a bang – meeting new people at my friend’s annual New Year’s Eve party, getting a little too excited, drinking too much, losing my gloves and my phone, going to bed with the room spinning, waking up to the sound of my mum yelling, and then (literally) picking up the pieces. Probably not that different to the average Brit’s New Year, to be honest.

January’s almost over already! Blimey, time flies by faster and faster the older you get. There was no white Christmas this year, and this winter has been pretty mild (save for ‘Storm Frank’ and the UK floods), but it FINALLY snowed a little bit over the weekend. Not a huge amount, but enough to cover the ground and look like a festive, magical blanket hiding all the ugly bits.

I had my January exams over last week. They didn’t go terribly, but they didn’t go brilliantly either. I submitted an essay on ‘women and violence’ in Le Morte D’Arthur (by Sir Thomas Malory) for one of my English modules, which was pretty substandard, I’m sad to say. But my semester of Medieval Literature and Arthurian Legends is over now. They were highly interesting, but unfortunately not subjects of English that I was particularly gifted in. Hopefully that will change when I start the new semester with Literature of the Romantic Period and Japanese Film & Literature.

As soon as my last exam was over I got on the train and went to go visit a friend down south who I hadn’t seen since before my year abroad in Japan, and we had a great time catching up, exploring the city, eating junk food and watching the new Star Wars again, this time in 4DX at Cineworld. The movie was enjoyable (obviously), the 3D was okay (I’m not crazy about it) and SOME of the 4D effects were great.

The good effects included the motion seats that would move and vibrate along with the camera pan or spaceships flying, and some strobes that lit up whenever there was an explosion, along with some wind and a bit of water splashing when in rain. The vibrations from clashing light sabers were also a pretty nice effect. Other things, like these little whooshing bursts of wind that erupted from my headrest and spurted past my ear whenever the Stormtroopers fired their blasters, were not so great. It felt like there were actual bullets whizzing past my head by a hair’s breadth and it made me want to curl up under my seat and take cover.

And now here we are, with me finally having a bit of free time after a grueling semester. It was hard work, and I got sick and stressed out a lot more than I did in Japan, but I was much more productive and efficient in my studies and entering societies than I was when I first began university over two years ago. At the same time, I seem to have turned into a bit of a social recluse. Whenever I didn’t have to go to class, I would shut myself away in my room and not leave except to eat or go to the bathroom for days on end. And by the end of my hermit retreat, I would get anxious when the time approached to leave my cave and interact with other people. I also had on-off bouts of intense nihilism and depression. But for now, mentally, I feel quite healthy and at ease.

When I visited my friend this weekend, he mentioned he hadn’t seen any artwork or internet publications by me in a long while. He’s working now, with a 9-5 job in the city, but he says he still tries to keep up with his art at least once a week, and that’s inspired me to want to produce more stuff despite all the work I have to do as well. I thought about starting drawing again, and wondering where I could publish my drawings, then remembered I could still use this blog as a place to keep it all linked. I don’t really use Tumblr, deviantART, Flickr, or any of those. And I hate starting new accounts just to let them gather dust when I lose motivation. So here we are: new cover photo, new profile picture. Feel free to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, too.

So, regrets of 2015:

  • I don’t think I completely made the most out of my time in Japan and there are still so many places I want to visit and friends I want to make.
  • I didn’t budget carefully enough and ended up owing my mum a lot of money which I’m still paying back. Luckily I still have that Skype tutoring job (which is going great, by the way).
  • I didn’t work as hard as I could have and this is still a problem I’m facing back in British university.
  • I didn’t make a big deal out of my 21st birthday back in September. That’s not a HUGE regret, and I was too exhausted at the time to have a huge party, but I think in 2016 for my 22nd I’d definitely like to try inviting all my friends around.
  • I can’t go to California this year after all. One day I hope I can.
  • The disaster that was New Year’s Eve. I’m not drinking at all this month and after that I vow to limit a night’s drinking to four drinks only.


And my resolutions for 2016:

  • Drink less, eat less, sleep more, exercise more
  • Do all my homework on time and keep up with assignments
  • Read for leisure, not just for my degree
  • Do an internship in Japan this summer (in the works!)
  • Visit family and friends more
  • Travel a bit around the country and get to know the UK a bit better
  • Be creative and use this website to enhance my artwork and writing skills
  • At the same time, try to work on my internet addiction
  • Plan ahead for people’s birthdays so that I can give them great presents
  • Learn a new skill – I’m studying Korean at the moment, but I think I’d like to learn to drive in my final year of university so that I can work towards getting an international license and then be able to drive in other countries.


Happy New Year!

NIN pp

Thank you, Trey and Matt.

I didn’t think it possible to love South Park more than I already did, then Season 19 Episode 6 aired. I, as did all the other internet fangirls around the globe, lost my shit. It was 5.30am Thursday morning, UK time, and I’d woken up early to stream the episode, as I do every week, because I don’t live in the US and can’t watch the show on Comedy Central when it airs. (Every week I act like Cartman pacing in front of the Nintendo Wii displays in ‘Go God Go’, Season 10. ‘Come on… come ooooonnn…’) And now I’m sitting here, having watched the episode twice in a row, trying to contain my feels and figure out what the fuck to say. I don’t think I can ever move on from this. That was the best episode, ever.

As an ex-yaoi fangirl (okay, ‘ex’, who am I kidding), a speaker of Japanese, a fan of Asian culture (glad to see a little more Korean exposure this week! If they did a kpop-centered episode, ‘I would be sooo happy’…) and a South Park shipper myself (Kyman, thanks for asking), this episode was everything I could have ever wanted. I guess you could say I was one of South Park‘s targets this week, and I fucking loved it. The hashtag ‘#kinkshame’ popped up all over Tumblr.

I am so happy, and I don’t know who to talk to about it. All I can do is grin like an idiot, clutch my face and whisper, “Oh my God, OH, MY GOD.” I’m glad I got that out.

Where does South Park go from here?

I don’t know. But I know I will follow it always.

7 Weeks Later: Life After The Year Abroad

Um. Hi.

So. I didn’t update this blog immediately after landing back in Manchester, like I thought I would. I’d done my dues after all; I’d written 350 posts in one year like I’d predicted I would, and there wasn’t much more to say. Towards the end of the blog, I became really sloppy and didn’t really talk much about anything. Though did I really say much at all, over the course of one year?

What happened when I got back was that I slept. A lot. After two, maybe three days without sleep (I lost track of time, what with the travelling and the time zones), I got home about 5pm, stayed awake another few hours so that I could eat dinner (a lovingly-prepared roast dinner with chicken, my favourite), and then I went to bed about 9pm, and passed out for about 12 hours without dreaming/waking up. So I avoided jet lag. This is kind of the same as what happened when I first arrived in Japan – I remember stayed awake all through the flight, then went to bed at about 10pm in Kansai Airport.

I’ve noticed my life has kind of gone round in a circle, as people do things periodically each year. I’ve started back at university for one, that’s a given. Amusingly enough, I’ve started watching South Park again like I did last year, obsessively.

But anyway, enough about South Park.

Both my remaining grandparents survived my year abroad. I was worried one or both of them would die while I was gone, seeing as they’re both in their 90s and get sick easily. They lived, but their minds both seem to have deteriorated quite a lot since I last saw them. Before I left last year, my grandma on my mum’s side of the family still lived by herself, ran her own house, etc. Then she had a fall, like she had already done quite often, but this one was the fall to end all other falls, I think. She’s now in the same nursing home as my grandpa, on my dad’s side of the family, and she forgets things very easily. They’re both there full-time. While I was gone, they didn’t see me at all, though they were constantly told that I was in Japan. My sister, being at the same university, seemed to merge with me until we were one person in their eyes. When I came back, neither of them seemed to recognize me. Even when they were told it was me and that I was back from Japan, they looked at my sister and asked her how Japan was. It was kind of surreal.

My younger brother shot up a lot while I was gone, as predicted. Before I came back, he’d done karate training under a waterfall in Wales, much to the astonishment of some Asian tourists. I gather Japanese people who do karate don’t practice out in the open. But anyway, when I was taking both suitcases out of the car when I got home, I saw a figure coming towards me, who I didn’t recognize, and assumed it was one of the new next-door neighbours. Except they were heading in my direction, and they said something like, “Bethan!”, and I realized it was my baby brother, who’d just turned 15, and was now in Year Eleven at school. He was taller than me (just barely), his voice had broken, and he could tense his stomach like a brick wall from his karate training. That was very weird for me. I’d seen him over Skype a few times over the year, but I wasn’t prepared for how strange it would be to see the change in person. I felt very melancholy. Last time I’d seen him he’d only come up to my nose.

I cried a little the next day. It was so odd, being back in England. I had a new appreciation for it and everything, like the landscape, and the old, beautiful buildings, and the greenery… but it didn’t feel like home anymore. Japan had felt like my home for so long. So I felt a very odd sense of displacement. I still feel it now. I’ve lived in four different places over the last four years, and I think it’s going to be very hard for me to settle anywhere. I feel like I’ve constantly got itchy feet and I need to leap up and get on a plane halfway across the world again. Which is what I plan to do in March, by the way. Washington DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco are in the works. More on that later.

7 weeks on, I’ve gotten used to being back in England. At first it was weird. My town had undergone some changes (I say that like it’s a big thing, but actually they’d only changed the Co-Operative to an ASDA), and I got frustrated by the railway literally the first time I used it again. There was signal failure when I needed to go into Manchester to pick up Lucy, and I didn’t have a working phone at the time. I had to run across town to leap on a different train, which was then delayed another 15 minutes. So I was 45 minutes late to pick up Lucy, and I couldn’t text her. But it turned out okay. She was waiting for me when I got there. And we had a grand old time. She stayed at my house for a few days.

My 21st birthday happened. In the end I didn’t have a party, and I’m okay with that. I had dinner at the pub with my family and a friend, and I only had a couple of glasses of wine. I’ve not really done much drinking since then, either. I went to my friend’s 22nd birthday, with people who I used to hang out with in sixth form college, and I realized I barely spoke to any of those people anymore. I still like them, and I think they’re great, but I really don’t speak to that many people anymore. Regularly. But that’s fine. I’m happy having only a few close friends. My ex-boyfriend was there, and at first I was wondering what would go down, would we chat like old friends, make passive-aggressive remarks, whatever, but the way it worked was we just sort of ignored each other. Fair enough, I guess. I was a little bothered by it, because it made the atmosphere kind of tense, and I hope the others didn’t dwell on it too much. Lucy and I left before everyone else could start drinking, then we went home and watched Big Hero 6 and Jurassic World, and I felt much better.

I really didn’t want to move back to my university town. I felt like I was regressing, big time. I had my year of binge drinking, drunken mistakes and coasting along in freshman year, and I didn’t want to be in that kind of place any more. But I’ve settled back in quite well. I became a member of the Japanese society again, and made some friends. I joined a Korean evening class and I attend once a week for two hours at a time. On Thursdays I do amateur improv comedy, and we play a lot of short games. I don’t know if I’m really that funny, but it’s good practice, making things up on the spot, and I have gotten in a few laughs. Plus there are some really hilarious people there, so even if I’m not that great, it’s good to go along and watch them work their magic.

I have my first major assignment due next Monday, and I’m stressing out about it, because it’s the first of many essays that will actually count toward my final grade now. But I feel much more passionate about my degree than ever before, and ready to take on the challenges. I may not be doing something daily, like this blog I used to write every day with devotion, but my overall attitude has really improved. I spend most of my time studying and working, not really socializing, but I’m okay with that. My sister and I share a two-bedroom flat together across the road from uni, so we speak every day, and are getting on quite well. I met her boyfriend for the first time a few weeks ago, and he’s quite a nice fellow. Him being a fan of South Park won me over, I have to admit. But he’s a very nice guy in general, and I can see why he’s supposedly quite popular with the rest of the family. I speak to my classmates in English seminars and Japanese workshops quite a bit, though I don’t really hang out with them much, but that’s okay, as we’re all busy. I’ve got some friends from the Japanese society anyway, who I can speak to in both English and Japanese. Some of them are British-born Chinese, like quite a few of my friends were back in sixth form.

Lucy recently sent me some interview questions about this blog and my year abroad in general. She’s really gotten into journalism, not just film journalism like she started off doing with reviews and so on, though I think it’s film-critiquing that she really wants to go into, ultimately. She published a good article on The Tab recently, and she’s making a new website for her own articles. So if this blog gets featured on there, I’ll be sure to direct you to it.

That may have been what motivated me to update this blog again, finally. I wanted to have a kind of end note, rather than it ending on me being sleepy in Abu Dhabi Airport.

Other notes:

  • On the side of my university studies, I started a Creative Writing course on FutureLearn. The course is run by the Open University and is completely free, though you can buy a certificate at the end to show you took part. It’s been really useful for developing my writing and I’ve already learned so much, even though the course is only in its second week. I may opt not to take Creative Writing next year at university after all, as I’m learning so much from this course, but maybe I will, as this course is giving me a heads up.
  • I had to change one of my main uni courses for this year. There was an uneven balance between English studies and Japanese studies. So I’ve had to drop Shakespeare next semester and replace it with Japanese Literature, but I don’t think that’s so bad. Besides, I’ve been doing some Shakespearean study in my own time. I saw the new Macbeth with Michael Fassbender (mixed feelings, though ultimately I’d say it was good), I went to see an adaption of Richard III at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on Friday (pretty good), and I’m going to see Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance in Hamlet next Saturday in the cinema.
  • I owe my mum a lot of money. I had so many expenses to pay in Japan that I’m currently working off a debt towards her, and still somehow hoping to go to both America and Japan this year.
  • I’m still continuing my job as an online Skype tutor, but I’m not getting as many bookings as I used to. Sometimes I get all booked up, other days I still have many slots free. This is a little worrying, as it’s my only source of income to fund my projects and pay back my mum.
  • Rika and I talked about meeting in the US. I was originally just going to go to LA and back, but she wants to visit Washington D.C. at some point, and so do I, and it doesn’t cost much extra to stop off in D.C. before flying back to LA, then for me to fly to San Fran, then fly back to the UK. So that’s what I’m hoping will happen.
  • I’m trying to get an internship next summer in Japan, as well. I’m less confident about affording that. Welp, even if I don’t travel much, I can always save up and go on a proper holiday the year after.

There’s a lot going on. Anyway, thanks to everyone for all the support over the last year! It was a fun project, writing every day for a year. I may still update with posts such as “What never to do at a supermarket” or titles to that effect, but it definitely won’t be with so much frequency. British university is VERY hard to pass, so I’m making that my priority.

Day 350: It’s been fun but now I’ve got to go 月曜日・2015年8月31日

I managed to get the tiniest scraping of Wifi in the airport! Huzzah. Okay, I’ll fill you in on my last day in Japan. It was… pretty dramatic, yet contrastingly anticlimactic.

I didn’t sell anything in the end. I coudn’t be bothered, and as it turned out, I didn’t have time, anyway. But I packed both suitcases, sent three more packages, had my room inspected. Then I cheecked out, returned the key, and I trekked across the city with all my stuff. Didn’t get a taxi in the end. I got several trains and dragged both suitcases the entire way. It wasn’t too bad. Annoying that only one of them is four wheeler, though. Made manoevring very difficult.

Disaster at the airport. Despite me sending so much stuff back, the joint weight of my suitcases came to 40kg, 10kg over the limit, and they were going to charge me $855 US dollars. Yeah, you read that right. You can imagine the squawk in my voice as I repeated it back to them. I was almost going to cry, almost but not quite, when they gave me a Duty Free Korean Airlines bag and said to take some of the stuff out. I’d luckily packed extremely neatly, separating blocks of stuff into separate bags, so I just took a couple of bags out my ‘souvenir’ suitcase and put them in the new bag. I took out exactly 7.5kg, which was torture on my hands. My hands are now blistered red and raw. But better than paying $855. They ignored 2kg out of 3 and charged me only 10200yen for the one kg, which was a win for me with the current pound to yen exchange rate.

They messed about with my boarding passes a lot, and gave me extra baggage allowance coupons to ensure I wouldn’t have to pay again if asked about my overweight baggage. In Seoul Incheon they even went and ripped up my old boarding passes without warning (they’d singled me out to come up to the desk outside the gate for Abu Dhabi), and gave me new ones.

The seats were very uncomfortably packed together on Etihad Airlines. I think I’ve had maybe a total of 1 hour sleep in the past 40 hours. My eyes absolutely burn.

Currently waiting in AUH for my connecting flight to Manchester. It’s 6.50am local time, Sep 1st. My flight’s not for another 4 hours. I’ll update you later.

Day 349: Last day in Osaka… flying home tomorrow! 日曜日・2015年8月30日

I’m actually writing this at 7:30am the next day, but I’ll fill you in on all the details.

Today I spent my last day of my year abroad in Namba and Shinsaibashi with Rika, and we felt the meccha Osaka feels. We did a bit of souvenir shopping (not that I really needed more luggage… we’ll get to that soon enough); we went to karaoke; we vlogged in Dotonbori; we went to the beautiful mall with all the greenery, where we did purikura and I played the drumming game one final time… it was so much fun. I also did a couple of necessary things like cancel my phone contract, and use my H&M ¥500 coupon. I bought two pairs of slip-on sneakers, both from the men’s department. They had more choice and fit with my style better. This wouldn’t mean extra luggage as I had to throw out a couple of pairs of shoes that had been worn down over this past year, as well as some more frayed clothes that didn’t make it to the recycle pile.

After going to the mall, it was 9pm, so we went home, and I was dreading it because I hadn’t yet managed to clear out my room and I needed to do that before going to sleep tonight. Rika volunteered to come back to my dorm and help, which in the end I was incredibly grateful for, though initially I wasn’t sure. I’m used to doing things on my own.

In the end, it took all night. My room was a tip. We separated trash from recyclables to giveaways to things to sell, and Rika also ended up taking quite a lot of my stuff, including some of my clothes. I’m just glad they’re going to a happy home. I’m sad I couldn’t quite fit everything inside my suitcases, and I’m having to send a couple more packages, but a lot of the stuff I’m giving away are only mundane material items and I doubt I’ll miss them.

It’s now 7:51. Rika ended up only leaving an hour ago. I didn’t sleep at all; she napped for a bit on top of my clothes pile. At least my clothes are very neatly folded inside my big suitcase. There’s no way my suitcases are going to come to less than 30kg altogether… I know what 13kg in books feels like, as I carried it to the post office only two days ago, and my suitcases’ combined weight definitely do not feel a mere double of that number. Well, we’ll see.

My top advice – do not overpack when traveling abroad. You will undoubtedly need to buy new clothes/shoes at some point, but don’t go overboard. Likewise with the souvenirs. Don’t spend all year getting souvenirs, either, because they will build up. At the same time, don’t leave souvenir shopping till the last minute. Definitely try to bring as few books as possible, because those things are darn heavy.

Speaking of books, I got a Star Wars illustrated kid’s book in Japanese, called “Vader and Friends”. It looks hilarious. Though it means I broke my own rule just now.

Rika and I had one of the longest goodbyes in my history of friendships. But it’s by no means goodbye for good. We will either see each other in the US in March if all goes according to plan, if not that, Japan next August, or at some point in our lives in some exciting city.

Stuff to do on the last day, which you dear readers should by no means leave until the last minute if you can help it:

  • Print out plane ticket
  • Sell unwanted items
  • Throw away/give away unwanted items
  • Send packages
  • Close bank account
  • Clear out fridge (including a beer, meaning I’m gonna get drunk this morning)
  • (Leave next inhabitant a letter hidden in the drawer so they won’t make the same mistakes I did?)

All before 1pm, which is when my flat inspection is, and when I’ll get kicked out of my dorm for good.

Not sure if I can post Day 350 (the final day) on the actual day (Aug 31st) as I cancelled my phone contract and therefore have no data. Maybe it’ll still work as a Wifi device? My flight’s at 6pm though so it’d have to be quick. If not, I’ll update you on Sep 1st, that is if I haven’t crashed between Asia and Europe, or I don’t collapse as soon as I get back to England. I can only predict 29 more sleepless hours following takeoff.

Day 348: Srs karaoke tiemz 土曜日・2015年8月29日

Too tired to write much today. I unfortunately didn’t get everything done that I wanted to, so I will have to continue tomorrow morning before going off to meet Rika in Namba.

My plan was to sell some more stuff to Second Street and throw out things I didn’t need. Well, I managed to organize some stuff, but not all that. And it seems my Japanese-style umbrella doesn’t fit in my big suitcase. Oh dear. Hopefully they’ll let me take it on the plane as hand luggage.

Did a lot of karaoke with Rachel tonight. Ate a berry waffle.

Okay goodnight.