4 Emotional Stages of a Long-Distance Relationship

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Long-distance relationships (LDRs) are awful, emotionally draining, soul-sucking things. Yet, with study abroad, internet dating, and fancy technology, LDRs are pretty common. My Japanese husband and I were in an LDR for 1 year and 4 months. My advice would be to avoid an LDR if at all possible, but I know if someone would have given me that advice I wouldn’t have taken it. Sometimes you find someone who is worth it, and you would do basically anything to make the relationship work, even if they live in another country.

I’ve seen both successful and failed LDRs, and there are some common stages that people go through during an LDR. If you are considering an LDR or are in the middle of one, maybe these will better help you to understand the emotional impact of these stages.

1. Bargaining

This step happens once you’ve decided to embark on an LDR. Even though you know that they need to leave and that you will, in fact, not see them for a long period of time, you will find yourself trying to bargain for more time. You ask them not to go, you delay your flight for a few days, and you start to panic about the eminent separation. Continue reading

Japan Diaries Day 11 – Wedding Photoshoot Prep

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After my university reunion in Shinjuku on Saturday and then just hanging out at my fiancé’s parents’ house on Sunday, on Monday we had the fitting for our pre-wedding photo session to attend in Tokyo.

☆*✲゚*。☆*✲゚*。☆*✲゚*。☆*✲゚*。☆*✲゚*。☆。*゚✲*☆。*゚✲*☆。*゚✲*☆。*゚✲*☆。*゚✲*☆

2014年12月15日

I’ve always wanted to wear a kimono, and although I have a yukata (the lighter, summer type of garment), kimono are very expensive. Ever since my fiancé proposed, I’d decided to get wedding photos done in Japan wearing both a kimono and a western style wedding dress. Once I made plans to visit him for a month in December, I decided it was the perfect time to take those photos. Often, Japanese couples take photographs at studios prior to the wedding so that they have photos to display at the wedding, often in a big poster format displayed at the entrance to the wedding hall.

His parents were paying for the photos as a wedding gift, so I left it up to them to pick the studio. They decided on a studio called Watabe Wedding, which is in Tokyo. In preparation for the photo session, we had to pick out our outfits. There are various photo plans available, and I picked the three-outfit photo plan. The outfits are rented from the studio, and they have a wide selection available. Continue reading

Japan to America / Ending an LDR

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I’m excited to announce that my LDR (long-distance relationship) will be ending (in a good way) in two weeks! My fiancé has his visa and his plane ticket and will be arriving from Japan shortly.

To celebrate this event, I decided to share some thoughts on my LDR experience. When my fiancé returned to Japan in the beginning of last year, I really struggled with it at first. Being separated by an entire ocean from someone who is so important in your life is kind of devastating.

I finally realized that I had to change the way I thought of our separation by thinking about the positive points, otherwise I would have focused on only on the negative aspects of being apart. Rather than dwelling on the negative parts, I tried to turn them around as best I could to make them something positive. Continue reading

Writing Never Ends/最近ヤバイ忙しい

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I’m preparing to turn in the first draft of my thesis to my professor next week, only to have him to tear it apart and make it bleed a red river of ink, but the weather is torturing me with spring-like warmth interspersed with snow that melts quickly away. Staring at my data and making arm-waving interpretations is difficult when the sun is shining and the air is warm.

It has been one month and nearly two weeks (yes I’m still counting) since I got back from Japan, but I still think about my trip every day. Remembering how awesome my vacation was makes the endless hours of staring at my computer bearable!

Leaving my fiancé was the hardest part, and between his job and my thesis work we haven’t had time to Skype or communicate much outside of e-mails. My fiancé suggested that I could concentrate better if we stopped writing e-mails too, but I told him that was not a good idea. In his mind, focusing on the task at hand and not being distracted is the best way, but I can’t go without breaks or without contact. Even just an e-mail makes it easier to keep going and to remember why I’m devoting myself to this even in the middle of the night: graduation and the next part of my life! Spending 12 hours a day researching and writing helps to make the time go quickly, but the time still goes pretty slow.

Now it’s time to spend my Friday night writing! (๑⁺᷄д⁺᷅๑)◞՞

来週、大学院の論文を教師に出さないといけないからずっと論文を書いてますね。出したら、先生が全部を治してくれてから論文が真赤になるかもしれませんね。最近、天気が良くて春っぽいから毎日事務所の中で書いてるのは大変でしょね。晴れてるし、温かいし、外に行きたいから書くのは嫌ですよ。

日本から帰ってきたから直ぐ1ヵ月2週間が立つって信じられませんね。時間立つのが早かったですね。日本の旅行凄く楽しかったからアメリカにいてもずっと日本について考えてますね。できれば、いつか絶対に日本に住みたいと思います。日本の旅行について考えたら、勉強頑張れますね。

フィアンセと離れたのが一番辛かったですよ。フィアンセの仕事も自分の論文もあるから、今スカイプはあんまりできなくて、時々メールしかできません。時々でも、フィアンセからメールもらったら、集中できて頑張れますよ。毎日12時間にずっと論文に集中してるから時間がたつのが早くてもなんか遅いですね。

金曜日の夜だけど、勉強しないといけませんね!(๑⁺᷄д⁺᷅๑)◞՞

Japan Diaries Day 1 – Japan Arrival

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It’s been a week since I returned from Japan, and though I’ve readjusted to life in the states, I’d like to revel in my journey a little longer. So, I’ve decided to regale you with my travel tales in intimate and obnoxious detail! Or, perhaps it’s just for my own benefit ^^

It also happens to be Thursday in the US (“Throwback Thursday” right?) so I decided to start at Day 1 (December 5, 2014) and relive my month-long trip in prose. So, let’s travel back in time…

2014年12月5日

Arrival

When I left the US for Japan on the 4th, I had not slept at all the night before, and so I slept on each of the 2 flights within the US, and then once I had dinner on the flight from LA to Japan, I slept like it was night time (which it was in Japan). I woke up about 3 hours prior to landing, which was about noon Japan time. I really think this is the way to go (for me!) with international travel, since it’s so difficult to adjust your body to an opposite time zone.

The first time I went to Japan, I was completely disoriented and I slept until late afternoon when the hotel staff called me and told me I needed to leave so that they could clean my hotel room. It took me days to get used to the time change, and I didn’t want to cut down on my happy fun Japan time this trip.

I watched a Japanese movie called “Judge!” (ジャージ!・Jaaji!・Judge!) on the plane and the Japanese “Frozen” (アナと雪女王・Ana to Yuki Jyoou・Anna and the Snow Queen). I really recommend “Judge!” as a comedy movie (it’s about an advertising competition in the US, stereotypes, and cultural differences). Then they served us breakfast and my 19 hour trip was over!

When I arrived in Japan at 3 in the afternoon on Friday, I was already pretty much adjusted to the time change. I didn’t feel jet lagged so I feel like the no-sleep-til-airplane method worked really well for me ^^ Continue reading

Skype in an LDR/遠距離恋愛中スカイプ

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Ah, the weekend. Although it’s a day of rest for most people, for myself and fellow grad students it’s just another day of research and writing. However, the weekend also means I get to squeeze in a few hours to Skype with my fiancé! Here are a few tips about long-distance relationships and how Skype fits in.

週末が来た!普通に休みの2日間だけど、大学院生だから、いつも通り研究したり、論文を書いたり、ただの勉強する日でしょね。しかし、週末だから、2,3時間位フィアンセとスカイプできますねヽ(。・ω・。)ノこれから、遠距離恋愛中スカイプについて三つのヒントを書こうと思いましたよ。

Of course these are only my opinions and suggestions, so use them as you see fit!

やっぱり、これからは自分の意見だけだから、好きにしてください。

1. Use Skype as much or as little as suits you/多くても少なくても、スカイプは自分でどれ位使うって決めてください

The time difference between the US and Japan, and his salaryman schedule, make it difficult to Skype with my fiancé more than once a week. We supplement the lack of Skyping with e-mails or LINE throughout the day, but usually as I am waking up he is going to sleep, and vice versa, so there are long periods of silence. It’s rough, and it can be lonely, but it makes the few hours we get to Skype that much more meaningful.

アメリカと日本の時差は16時間位で、彼はサラリーマンだから、一週間に一回しかスカイプできませんね。スカイプできない時、メールとかラインとか使うけど、私は起きてる時彼が寝て、反対もそうです。だから、連絡ができない時間が多いですね。辛くても寂しくても、スカイプができる時の話はもっと大切になりますね。

If your schedule or theirs prohibits it, or if you just don’t want to devote that much time to Skype conversations, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Skyping takes up a lot of time, because you are having a conversation and not focusing on something else (school, work, cleaning your flat). Some people have a set daily Skype schedule (video – Rachel & Jun) but not everyone Skypes everyday or on a schedule (video – Hide & Jessica). Make sure to create a life/relationship balance that is right for both you and your significant other.

あんまりスカイプできなかったら、もしかしてスカイプあんまりやりたくなかったら、別によくスカイプしなくても良いですよ。スカイプの会話は凄く時間かかりますね。学校とか仕事とか日常生活が忙しいからどれ位スカイプするのは自分で決めることですね。毎日スカイプする人もいるし(英語の動画 – Rachel & Jun)、時々スカイプする人もいるし(英語も日本語の動画 – Hide & Jessica)。自分の生活に釣り合った遠距離恋愛をしなければなりませんね。

Note to guys, many girls like when you spontaneously message them (Skype, LINE, Facebook, whatever) to let them know you are thinking of them, even if it’s just a short one!

男性にお知らせ:彼女にいきなりやさしいメールとかラインのメッセージとか送ったら、凄く喜びますよ!

Continue reading

How I Met My Fiancé/フィアンセと恋に落ちるまで

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Kids, I’m going to tell you the story of how I met my fiancé. Just kidding, I won’t take 9 seasons to tell this story, just one post.

これから、フィアンセと恋に落ちるまでの話を書こうと思います。ちょっと長いけどね…

I figured I should talk about how I met my fiancé. Just over 2 years ago, my fiancé arrived in the US to study English at my university. Our mutual (Japanese) friend introduced us just a couple of days after he arrived, because I could speak both Japanese and English and she thought I would be a good English conversation partner for him.

じゃ、どうやってフィアンセに出会った…約2年前に、フィアンセが英語を勉強するために私のアメリカの大学に着きました。2日間着いた後、二人とも知ってる日本人が紹介してくれました。私は英語も日本語も喋れるから、彼と英会話するために紹介してくれましたね。

It was pretty much love at first sight. (For both of us, as he later told me).

一目ぼれより、恋の予感って言えば良いかなぁ。(二人とも恋の予感、彼が後で言ってた)。

Continue reading

One month ’til Japan! / 日本まで後一ヶ月

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My phone’s countdown app says 32 days until I leave for my one month vacation in Japan! (* >ω<)

I will be visiting my fiancé in Tokyo and visiting old friends that I made during my study abroad trip. See 3 spots I want to visit in Tokyo!

In addition to increasing my excitement about going, this also increases my stress about my thesis research. I’m a graduate student and I hope to graduate next semester, which means that I need to finish the majority of my research and first thesis draft before I go to Japan (;´Д`) I’m fairly confident that I will be spending very little time writing my thesis while in Japan.

My fiancé has even threatened to quit Skyping me for the next month if I don’t spend more time on my thesis. I’m not really slacking off, but I could probably spend a little more time on it. Of course, my thesis is important, but planning my time in Japan is way more fun!

shinjuku02

32日間日本に旅行をしに行きます(´∇ノ`*)ノ

東京に住んでるフィアンセに会って、留学したときの友達にも会えるから嬉しいですね。この三つの東京の観光スポットに行きたいと思います!

やっぱり、楽しみにしてるからテンションあがってるけど、学位論文についてストレスもたまっているのもありますよ。大学院生で後期に卒業したいから、日本に行く前に研究も論文の下書きも絶対に終わらせないといけませんね。日本にいる間論文を全然書かない気がしますね。

一所懸命に頑張らなかったら、フィアンセは一ヶ月スカイプしないって言われたよ。ちょっとひどーいと思ったけど、やっぱり日本でよく遊べるから、行く前にちゃんと論文を書くのは大事でしょね。日本にいる間の計画するのは楽しくても(笑)

Meet the Parents/両親に会うってヤバイ( ̄д ̄;)

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I’m an American girl engaged to a Japanese guy, and in December of this year I will meet his family at their home in Japan. I’ve met his father before in America while we were dating, and I’ve Skyped with his mother, but now we are engaged and it feels like a bigger meeting.

It’s important to me to make a good impression on them. After all, they are now going to be a part of my family. My Japanese skill level is high enough that I try to avoid making use of the “gaijin (foreigner) pass” as much as possible. I would rather be appropriate than have to be excused for mistakes because I’m a foreigner.

So I’ve been asking for lots of advice! These are the top 4 hints I’ve compiled from advice from friends and the internet.

アメリカ人だけど、フィアンセは日本人ですよ。今年の12月に日本に行って、フィアンセの両親に会うから、ちょっと緊張してますね。彼のお父さんはアメリカに一回会って、お母さんとスカイプしたことあるけど、日本で会うのは婚約したから初めてだからちょっと緊張してますね。

フィアンセの両親は直ぐ自分の両親になるから、良い印象あって欲しいと思いますよ。外国人だけど、間違わないように頑張ってますよ。これから、友達から、後はインターネットで見つけた(笑)、四つのアドバイスを書こうと思いましたね。

1. Don’t panic.

Take a deep breath, don’t worry, it will be fine! I have anxiety about meeting the parents, but this is just the way I handle everything (from job interviews to telling my friend those shoes don’t match her outfit). If you are thinking about panicking, don’t!

If Japanese parents are meeting you, they are open to your relationship and unlikely to judge you harshly. Parents of children interested in international relationships tend to be open-minded and accepting. Racism is pretty rare. If racism is a likely issue, your partner will hopefully warn you ahead of time.

まずは、安心したほうが良いです。相手の両親だったら、国際関係を受け入れてくれたから問題ありませんね。別に差別しないと思いますね。もし両親は反対していたら、多分紹介しないじゃない?(。´∀`)ノ

2. Be ready for international communication

If you’ve been in an international relationship for any amount of time, you must have experience with international communication and its trials and tribulations. Meeting the parents will present a whole new set of challenges, from language barriers to etiquette. Hopefully your relationship will have helped you to practice overcoming some of these challenges.

The most important thing to remember is to be flexible! Adapt to the different ways of doing things and the different manners. Try to learn about Japanese customs but focus on the major rather than the minor rules. Passing food between chopsticks while eating is a major no-no (since this is done with bones at funerals), while not slurping your ramen is something that can be overlooked.

Even if you do make a few cultural faux pas, they will forgive you. Also, don’t take being laughed at too personally. My friends laugh at me all the time, and they all tell me that it breaks the tension when a mistake has been made and is meant to put you at ease. (Of course, they could just be lying, but I choose to believe them for my own sanity.)

やっぱり、外国語でちゃんと言う事を伝えるのは難しいですね。日本とアメリカの文化が違うから、間違うときもあるかもしれません。でも、頭が柔らかかったら、問題ないですね!

ちゃんと習慣を調べておいて、大事な習慣を覚えておけば良いと思います。例えば、葬式の習慣だと、お箸からお箸に食べ物を渡すのはダメですよ。そのような事をしないように気をつけないといけませんよ。逆に、ラーメンをすすらなくても大丈夫でしょ。

ちょっと間違えても、外国人だから大体両親は許してくれますね。間違わないように頑張るけど、ちゃんと常識があれば問題ありませんよ。

3. Bring an omiyage (souvenir)

In Japan the custom of gift-giving is a big thing. It’s customary to bring an omiyage (a gift or souvenir) when you have been travelling. I recommend bringing omiyage for all relatives that you will meet.

For my fiancé’s parents I will bring one non-perishable (not edible) gift and one perishable (food) gift each. For other relatives, I would bring food. For example, there are famous caramels that are local to where I live, and I can get them inexpensively in bulk, so I am going to bring several, plus extra.

When it comes to non-perishable gifts, I always try to pick something that will fit in with any taste or style, and that will not become an obstacle. So, rather than a large Napoleon-esque portrait of myself astride a stallion for the entrance (genkan), I opted for a simple vase for his mother created by a Native American artist. My fiancé has hinted that his mother associates Native Americans closely with America, so I hope she will like it.

両親にお土産をあげないといけませんね。日本のお土産習慣はアメリカの習慣より強いと思いますよ。フィアンセの両親に置物と食べ物をあげようと思いましたよ。お母さんに北米土人が作った花瓶をあげて、後こころへんの有名なキャラメルを買っておきました。良いかなぁ…

4. Modesty is important

Japanese women in general dress more modestly than Americans, so your partner’s parents will expect you to be dressed modestly. Guys, too, should not dress over-the-top in gangster style with underwear exposed. You want to make a good impression, right?

In addition to modesty clothing, PDA is not acceptable in front of the parents. In America PDA is pretty common, especially at university or in public places, but in Japan it’s not common at all. Even hand-holding is still pushing it, depending on the generation. Making out in front of his parents isn’t recommended to make a good impression!

PDA in America, in front of strangers, is acceptable for my fiancé, but PDA in Japan or in front of friends is not acceptable. I don’t want to embarrass him or myself, so I honor his request. I didn’t think that even Americans would have certain forms of PDA in front of their parents, but I’ve heard from some friends that they will have PDA in front of their parents, and I was surprised.

アメリカ人の女の子の洋服は日本人のよりちょっと…何って言えば良い?体魅力的って言えば良いかなぁ(笑)。ま、日本でアメリカの洋服を着るのはちょっと恥ずかしいですね。だから、両親の前、そういう洋服を着ませんね。

後、アメリカで人前イチャイチャするのはあんまり気にしない習慣がありますよ。でも、日本では人前イチャイチャしませんよ。得に、両親の前はしませんね。アメリカ人でも、両親の前イチャイチャしないと思ったけど、知り合いがチュウとかハグとか両親の前でもするって言ってびっくりしましたね。

Wish me luck!

Did you meet your international partner’s parents? Any good/funny/bad stories? I have 2 months until I meet the parents, so if you have any last-minute advice, please let me know (。・ω・。)

国際関係したことありますか?その人の両親に会いましたか?

後2ヶ月日本に行くから、もしアドバイスがあったら、是非教えてください(。・ω・。)