I'm at that point in the year where the end date is in sight. It is tangible: I can almost touch it with outstretched fingers. I can count the days in double digits. I can imagine my bags packed and my little room here empty. And it's dangerous.

The closer to the end of something you get, the easier it is to let the time pass you by, focusing on the end date and not what needs to come before it. In doing that, I've lost a little bit of myself here: forgetting the promise I made to make the last few months count. Ones that haven't slipped me by in a rush to get myself back to my normal life. You see, that's part of the problem. It doesn't feel normal to be half a planet from home anymore. It doesn't feel beneficial.

I remember my last few months of secondary school and how almost in a weekend, I was ready to move on from it all and get onto the next step. I am ready to be done with this year now. Ready to be surrounded by family and friends and home. Coffee shops. Countryside. £10 notes that I haven't even seen yet. That's not to say it's awful, because of course it's not. I'm simply ready to be done with it.

But I haven't accomplished all that I came here to. My Japanese standard is far below what it should be - or what I think it should be - and I beat myself up about it a little too often. Yet I'm not doing a great deal to change it, which has led me to the conclusion that I've fallen a little out of love with it all. I have come to realise learning Japanese is not a hobby like it is for a lot of the students here. It is simply a facilitator: a method of communication. Yes I find kanji fascinating, but I'm not the kid who studies them for fun. I don't watch anime and I don't read manga. I never have, and I never will. The assumption that everyone who loves Japan loves the 'kawaii culture' is a gross miscalculation. It puts us all into a box that defines us at least partially, as outsiders. As people obsessed with difference and fantasy and a lot of other things I will never know about because I'm not part of it. But that's fine - everyone has things they love and I am in no position to say that it is wrong. It just feels like I fell into the wrong hole, stumbled into the wrong classroom, and only continued because I did well in the exams.

It might seem strange that I can feel like this after I wrote about an incredible weekend just recently. That weekend really was wonderful, but the main reason it was wonderful was because I was with a family. They welcomed me into their lives and treated me like a part of it. And it was a high, a breathtakingly beautiful high. Everything else is getting to those highs and coming down from them afterwards. How do I even begin to answer the inevitable question of "how was your year abroad?" when I get home? Do I just forward them a link to my blog and tell them to make a cup of tea and take a long hard read, or do I simply say it was great and move the conversation on? It is a constant feeling of limbo. Making the most of it, not feeling ungrateful for literally exploring the world, broadening horizons, blah blah blah. It's also really shit being so far from everyone I really love. There's not a day that goes by that I'm not incredibly glad I came on this year abroad. None of it has been a mistake and I don't regret any of it, but the end is in sight and I am hurrying it along.

Of course, there is always turnaround from feelings like this. I know this. I literally live like this. I'm doing all the things I can to make it amazing. I've booked a weekend trip to Korea. I'm seeing Edinburgh friends in Tokyo next month. I've made a thousand cranes and I'm going to take them to Hiroshima once I've strung them all. It's nearly over, and I'll be leaving with a huge heart and an overwhelming sense of happiness; for such an incredible year, and to be returning home. Both are valuable, important and real. And feeling them both is okay.


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