In my continuing Swedish study, I have learned that the word ‘gift’ means not only married, but also poison. Take from that what you will.
We are now down to the one month mark, after what has been a crazy ten months. It was just less than a year ago that Yuki learned about free tuition in Scandinavia and re-ignited his dream to live in Sweden, which he’d been tucking away since he went abroad for the very first time and visited Sweden and Switzerland as a high schooler. We re-examined all of our finances and decide that we could probably manage it, though we’d originally been planning to work and save for one more year, at least, before he might go back to school. He began preparing his applications in September and October, but still didn’t get them completed and sent until the very last minute in January.
We spent months, then, worrying about whether they had arrived on time, whether he had included all the right documents, and whether anyone would accept him despite his less-than-stellar performance in undergraduate. And at last, May rolled around — though we did also get married and hold a wedding ceremony in the interim, I might mention — and we heard that he had been accepted to his first choice in Sweden… Though no such luck in the other countries he had applied to.
While still fearing that we would get a message any day reading, ‘Oh dear me, that was a mistake! We’re not going to take you,’ we began the search for housing. After two miserable months of hopelessness with the insane housing queues, one brave soul finally took pity on us and now we have nearly secured an apartment for ourselves in Uppsala. We’ll send back the contract this week! It is one room, but double the size of the one room apartment we live in now, so we are basically stoked. There is even a sushi restaurant around the corner and the apartment has a bath tub, so Yuki should find just about every one of his Japanese needs fulfilled.
Things are finally beginning to come together, though not perfectly. We are still waiting to get our permits from the embassy, but there is a month yet so we aren’t panicking just yet. I tried to get my hair cut, even paying the big bucks for one of the salons in Tokyo that caters to foreigners, in the hope of starting our new life looking good — but it turned out horrid and I’m simply keeping it tied back until it grows out enough to do anything with it. We’ve been selling off all our things with some success and some hassles. We’re now living in any empty room, sleeping half-on and half-off a single futon, which is a bit smaller than what we call a single bed back in the states and definitely not made for two people. We packed our rice cooker and sent it ahead by ship, so we are now surviving old school style and I’m making rice in a pot everyday. Which has mixed results and associated dangers, like me getting splashed with boiling water on Friday and burning half of my dominant hand. I now have a lovely pattern of splatters on my hand that I hope won’t leave a scar.
But we bear these little challenges because we still want to believe that we are moving up — that going back to school will lead Yuki to a job he can really enjoy and feel is worthwhile, that moving back to a Western country will afford us a better lifestyle and a better work-life balance, and that we’ll just be happier somewhere else, because as much as we both love Japan and feel that it is home we may just lose our minds, or at least our will to live, if we go on working here. Vacationing and visiting here should be much better.
So! One month to the day and then we’re off to Uppsala! Now back to my Swedish cramming with Rosetta Stone! I’ll leave you with these before and after photos of our apartment…