Archive for category Return to Canada
Prior to my return from Japan to Canada, my parents had found an apartment for me. The apartment came with two sets of keys. Each of my parents took one set so they could have access to drop off my stuff.
My mom had given me her set of keys when she took me shopping yesterday, however my dad had forgotten to hand over his. Instead of making a trip into Winnipeg to drop them off, he gave them to his friend Randy who was coming to Winnipeg and would deliver them to me.
I arranged to meet Randy at the Second Cup coffee shop at the corner of River and Osborne, just down the street from my new apartment. I got there early and grabbed coffee and a window seat. As I was drinking my coffee, my friend Junk just happened to walk by the window. He noticed me, stopped, and came running into Second Cup to say hi.
Since my return to Canada 2 days earlier, I had been busy and jetlagged so I hadn’t yet reached out to any of my old friends. Junk was the last of my friends that I had seen when I moved to Japan. He had surprised me by coming to the airport to see me off when I left Canada 3 years ago. It was fitting that he was the first friend I saw when I came back to Canada; I felt like my travel had finally come full circle!
It was coincidental that Junk just happened to be walking by at the same time that I was in Second Cup. Even more coincidental was the fact that Junk and Triple D were sharing an apartment just down the street from my new place! I was happy to be living so close to some of my old friends; it truly felt like I had returned home.
I woke up in the morning 9,000 km away from where I slept the day before, my brain still 14 hours ahead of local time. My plan for the day was to buy a bed, a computer, and unpack my apartment as much as possible.
After my experiences rebuilding a used computer in Japan, I decided to spend some of my teaching money on a brand new computer that I could plug in and use. I picked one up at Future Shop. The ease of our purchase prompted my mom to buy a new computer to replace her old, problematic one. Our commissioned salesman was a happy guy.
Our next stop was Best Sleep Center, where I picked out an incredibly comfortable queen sized mattress and box spring. We managed to arrange delivery for the next day. This was my first time ever picking out a mattress that someone else would be using – it was a bit stressful! I hope The Penpal likes what I chose.
When I was giving the address for bed delivery I suddenly realized that I had made a huge mistake: my street address is 395, but when I had mailed 5 boxes of stuff from Japan to Canada I had given my address as 359.
As soon as I got home I called Canada Post to explain my situation. Because of the delivery method I had chosen, I couldn’t officially change the delivery address. Canada Post said they would contact both the Winnipeg distribution and the local post office to let them know of the change, and hopefully someone would notice before attempting delivery. This was not at all reassuring.
Remember friends: when mailing all of your stuff back home, MAKE SURE YOU ARE MAILING IT TO THE CORRECT ADDRESS!!
(2018 Update 1) A few weeks later I received all of my boxes at the correct address. Thank you Canada Post!!
(2018 Update 2) After 10 years of use, a few adventures, and several unfortunate encounters with a barfy kid, we are finally going to replace the mattress. Otsukaresama mattress-san!
After 3 years of living and working in Japan, flying home was pretty sad. Having said that, I would much rather be sad than airsick for 10 hours like the poor woman who sat next to me on my flight to Vancouver. It’s not really fair to say that she sat next to me: she spent most of the flight running to the bathroom. I felt bad for her, and thankful that I have never had serious problems on a flight.
A few hours away from Vancouver we flew into a huge storm that kept the plane bouncing. We were delayed on our landing as the storm was so bad that only one of the runways was open. I’m happy that we weren’t redirected to a different airport.
Unlike the flight to Vancouver, my flight to Winnipeg was quick and uneventful. Thanks to the wonders of international time zones, I arrived in Winnipeg about 15 minute before I left Japan. My parents and sister were waiting for me in the arrival area carrying a huge Canadian flag. It was good to be home!
My mom and sister had found an apartment for me before I came home, but since there was almost no furniture in it yet, I went back to my parents house for the evening. My parents live in the “city” of Portage la Prairie, about 70km west of Winnipeg. On the drive I got my first taste of reverse culture shock, fascinated by people driving on the right and the huge open spaces between cities. It’s going to take me a while to adjust!
After spending two weeks in Canada to visit my sick sister, it was time to go back to Japan. Over the past few weeks, my sister’s condition had improved a lot. She was back at home and not needing daily supervision. I felt comfortable returning to Japan and not extending my ticket further.
My flight was first thing in the morning, so instead of driving in early from Portage la Prairie, my parents booked me in a hotel near the airport. I got up early and caught the airport shuttle from the hotel to start my long journey back to my Japan home. If everything works out, I might still be able to attend my coworker Angie’s farewell party in Mishima, 9085 km away.
My parent’s grilled steak tonight for dinner. I didn’t eat steak often when I lived in Canada, but eating a big, beefy steak in Japan would be a luxury beyond my teaching salary.
Yesterday I spent the day watching TV at my parents’ house in Portage la Prairie, so I decided to get out of the house and drive to Winnipeg for shopping, a movie, and wings with the regular wing group.
After buying some clothes, I treated myself to sushi lunch at Sushi train. I have been back for over a week, and I was craving sushi. I was also interested in how Canadian sushi would compare after eating really amazing sushi in Japan for the past few years. The taste was pretty good, but the presentation was nowhere near Japanese standards.
Today’s movie was “40 Year old Virgin” which was hilarious. One of the most memorable scenes involved actor Steve Carrell actually getting his chest waxed, screaming in pain, and shouting obscenities. I am not a hairy person at all, but I still cringed! Ouch!
The last time I returned to Canada, I wrote about going out for wings and karaoke with the regular group. Amy, one of the regulars, was upset that I didn’t mention her by name in my blog post. I tried to explain to Amy that I rarely use names in my blog, but Amy was upset anyway. So Amy, here is your name in my blog. Amy Amy Amy Amy.
(2015 Update) Amy!
Today I took the day off and hung out at my parents’ house in Portage la Prairie. I decided to plant myself in front of the TV for a few hours.
There aren’t a lot of TV channels in Japan, so it was a culture shock to have hundreds of choices on my parents’ overloaded cable package. Even though there were lots of channels to choose from, most of them just show the same shows all day.
You don’t realize how little you will miss TV until you don’t watch it regularly.
After waking up in the dirty, dirty fraternity house, I got cleaned up and went for brunch with some friends. We went to Perkins, which was a regular eating experience during my university days. Perkins was popular with students because it was close to campus and some popular campus bars, and it was open all night.
Going back as an employed adult during the day is far less enjoyable. The food wasn’t great, but the visit with my friends was.
After brunch I spent some time visiting my sick sister, and then returned to my parents’ house in Portage la Prairie.
With my sister doing better, I was able to spend some time with friends. I went out to my first Premier Championship Wrestling (PCW) show in two years.
When I was a student, my friends and I went regularly to the weekly show at a bar near campus. Local pro wrestling is hit and miss, but some of the wrestlers are very talented and might just have a future in the business (if they can get out of Winnipeg). The crowd was smaller than it used to be, but I still saw a lot of familiar faces.
One of the familiar faces was The Ex, who came up to ask how my sister was doing. We hadn’t really talked since my last return to Winnipeg, and weren’t on the best terms. Because we have a lot of mutual friends, I sent her an email before I left Japan explaining the situation with my sister, and letting her know that I would try to get to a wrestling show. The intent was to avoid any awkwardness with our friends and where they were going to sit. To my surprise, she showed up at the hospital with flowers for my sister the next day, which was a very nice gesture. Our relationship may have ended badly, but The Ex was a good person and legitimately cared for the well being of my sister.
The wrestling show was pretty good. PCW was nice enough to bring back their wrestling trivia contest just for my return. I was the reigning wrestling trivia champion, and won a few drinks for myself and my friends. Also, we were once again the loudest section in the building. It was a fun evening!
(2015 Update) The most successful wrestler to graduate from PCW is Kenny Omega, who currently wrestles for New Japan Pro Wrestling among other promotions. If you have never had the pleasure of seeing Kenny wrestle, do yourself a favour and go to YouTube now!
One of my favourite Kenny moments online is his “Champion of Anywhere” match, where he challenges Winnipeg wrestling mainstay Mike Angels to a match at Angels’ cabin. Awesomeness ensues.
After a long, sweaty, uncomfortable journey from Numazu to Narita Airport followed by a turbulent flight, I was happy to be back in Canada. I landed in Vancouver and was greeted by a great view of the Canadian Rockies.
Returning to Canada after being away for 2 years comes with an element of culture shock. The first thing I noticed was the baggage handlers. At Narita airport, the baggage handlers were dressed very professionally in their uniforms, looking like an efficient, hardworking team. In Vancouver, the man driving the baggage cart was wearing cargo shorts, wraparound 80’s sunglasses, and drove with one foot up on the dash.
I switched to the domestic terminal and had a quick flight to Winnipeg. I landed just before 7:00pm on August 20, a full 15 minutes before I had left Tokyo. Traveling across multiple time zones is weird.
My parents met me at the airport, loaded me into the car, and took me to the Health Sciences Center, the hospital that had been my sister’s home for the past 3 weeks. Usually visiting hours end at 8:00pm, but my parents told the staff that I was coming home from Japan to see my sister, and they were happy to make an accommodation for us.
My parents live in nearby Portage la Prairie, which is about an hour west of Winnipeg. They came into Winnipeg earlier in the day to visit my sister, and then stuck around waiting to pick me up from the airport. We wanted to surprise my sister, so my parents decided to tell her that they had stayed in Winnipeg after the morning visit to do some shopping, and wanted to stop by the hospital one more time on the way home. I would wait outside the hospital room, then come in to surprise my sister.
I waited outside the room as my parents entered. My sister was surprised to see them again, and also happy to see a friendly face that wasn’t a doctor or a nurse. 3 weeks in the hospital is a long time!
After about a minute, I casually walked into the room and said hi, trying to act like it was completely normal for me to be there. My sister stared for a minute without saying anything, trying to process the fact that her brother who had moved to Japan was standing in front of her. Finally she asked me “are you really here, or am I dreaming?”. I assured her that I was actually there, and that I had come back to visit her. After another minute of staring and trying unsuccessfully to form sentences, she told me that she was really happy to see me.
We visited for about an hour or so, and I explained that I was in town for at least a few weeks to help out. Before I left I had to promise that I would still be in Canada the next day. On the way out of the ward, I was greeted by most of the nurses who had known that I was coming to visit. I was upset that my sister was in the hospital, but I was smiling the whole way out knowing that I helped make her day better.
My parents had agreed to help me with the price of my (very expensive) plane ticket. On the way out the the hospital my parents stated that my sister’s reaction to seeing me was totally worth the cost of the ticket.
I am very fortunate that I had the money and time to get back and see my sister. I am grateful to my parents and the NOVA head office staff who were able to accommodate my short notice request to leave the country. I was also very happy to be home.