Starting a new chapter of life in Japan

sunrise over Japan

sunrise over Japan

The plan to take a leave from teaching and office work has been on my thought a couple of years ago. The responsibility of a deputy dean was not heavy or burdensome but most of the time dull and depressive. The work  is routine so it is not rocket science but dealing with students and staff requires social ability beyond my god given skills. It was fun but after sometime you will eventually get tired of sucking up to avoid falling apart. Office politics are common thing; so common you have to get into it just to make sure you are not the victim of some people playing shit. Truely  upon a saying that if you are not at the table  you might be on the menu. So after two years in office  I asked the Dean not to renew my term. The reason being my intention to take a sabbatical leave. When the application has been approved I stared at the email on the screen and asked myself ….do you know why are you going away? You have got nothing to chase anymore for whatever outcome there will be it won’t do good to you or anybody else as you are at the end of your career. Well, to tell the truth I don’t know myself; all I know is that I need to get away….. that’s all. And this is the last ticket to put myself on that getaway train. Mainly, to get away from work. Yep I know that small bit for sure. So I started to email my contacts in the US, UK, Poland  and Japan. After a while it boiled down to two universities in the UK and Japan. Both universities accepted my proposal as is and agreed to supervise my work. I worked out a research project  to fill up the leave. It turned out UiTM has approved the one in Japan but not the UK. I was not disappointed as Japan might offer a new challenge and exciting experience. So here I am …in Japan.

at the observation deck Narita International

at the observation deck Narita International

The flight to Narita International was a smooth one in a MAS airplane. The service was good but the plane is almost empty…..I guess that’s why MAS is going bankrupt. Too bad  I love our national carrier….but empty  seats won’t bring in any money, as simple as that. After seven hours of sweet dream we reached Narita in a beautiful autumn morning. They issued me a residence card for my long stay here and went through the customs and all. The police stopped me and showed his badge. Fortunately I got my newly printed card and he turned the tune immediately from the interrogative into supportive tune and gave  me a pamphlet on how to reach the police during  an emergency. I have never been stopped by any police in an airport so that one was pretty scary—not foreigner friendly after all.

my residence card

my residence card

I queued wrongly at the bus stop and stepped out through the wrong door…hahaha…but with loads of luggage I looked pretty unJapanese! They neatly queue along the yellow line and step into the bus through the front door and step off through the back door. In the UK and Europe they say the same thing but you will see people do the mistakes all the time ; apparently not here.

If you are going further from your port of entry (ie another small town) my advice is  not to take a domestic flight it is such a big hassle. For one your baggage cannot go directly to your destination it has to be checked out and goes through the customs. So if you have a 30kg over baggage to move on and off the bus it is pretty hectic. Get someone to pick you up even though it is gonna be another 2-3 hours drive.  The second one is to deal with local passengers especially when people going back for the weekend or long holidays …the scene could be very chaotic. And the third one is the weight limit for domestic flights is usually 20 kg only so you need to explain why your bags are over the limit and with sign language that ‘s is pretty ugly to  make a point

.surau in T1 Narita Airport  tempat wudhu'

surau in T1 Narita Airport                                             tempat wudhu’

I hardly travel alone these days but on this trip I was all alone as my family could not join me (they will come later when their residence applications are approved) and that scared me a lot. After 50 years of living I am still scared to be alone. But Alhamdulillah I am safe and sound now. I wish my wife and my children were here though……

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