(5) Going to New York

My storyTomoko MaruyamaComment

Coming back to Tokyo after spending a long journey across several countries, I started searching for an art school. There was too much information online so it was difficult for me to decide. I had heard that New York was the art capital of the world. So I looked for options that were simple and straightforward near New York City. Also, New York had a reputation of being a tough place to be and in a certain way I liked that. I wanted to be in a place where I would be challenged.

I strongly believed that it is important to follow your heart in life. It also sounds nice that you can act based on your decisionsNot so many people can do what they feel inside. 

However, reality turned out to be very different. It was not easy to quit my job as a sport teacher. My boss and colleagues weren't happy at all with my decision. In Japanese society, people are expected to work for the same company for many years and they often stay until they retire.

My parents were disappointed as well. They called me every day to see what I was planning to do next after quitting my job. They were shocked to learn that I had gone on a journey for 10 months and they were even more astonished when I told them about my decision to go to the U.S. My mom started crying in front of me asking why I cannot study art in Japan. She may have thought that I was unsettled. I explained to them the reasons for my decision but they didn’t completely agree. I grew up in a small town in the countryside and it may have been very hard for them to understand why I was going to live in a different city let alone a different country in the other side of the planet. I knew that my decision didn't go well with the people around me. However, I believe that each person is different and each one of us has a unique way of thinking and seeing the worldAlso, each generation is different. I was always active, positive and full of curiosity. These were the personality traits that I liked about myself. I didn't want to stay and live the same life everyday just because someone told me to do so. 

The day I left for U.S, I was checking my suitcase at the entrance of my house. My mom just stepped in saying that she had gone to pray for my safety and health to a shrine near our house. My dad just said one word "Ganbare" (keep up what you will do). He was quiet as usual. As soon as I started leaving my house, my mom started crying again. I took the taxi to the airport and looked back to my parents. She was waving her hand until I couldn't see her anymore.

I didn't cry at the time and I tried to show a happy face. I was so excited for this new challenge in my life. But I didn't know at the time that I was going to cry a lot later. I didn't know how hard it was to live in a foreign country with people from a different culture and without knowing English very well.