Grieving times.

On Monday, around noon, I was walking back to my room when I received a notification from a group chat.

“Does anyone know what happened…? There’s a police line…with about 10 police.”

In a few moments I was able to understand what she was talking about: once I arrived at my dorm, there was a police van outside, with many people standing around the lobby.

In the hours after that, more information continued to be revealed.

First that a girl in the dorm had been missing for five days.

And soon after, another devastating news: A body had been found in the said missing person’s room.

One of my fellow classmates here on exchange from the US as well was now dead.

A police report concluded that the death was due to natural causes. While this puts to rest the chilling thoughts of suicide or foul play, the weight of the tragedy still remains.

For me, I can’t help but to deeply sympathize for the family members. In Nigerian culture, there are few things that are considered as bad of an omen as having to bury your child. As my mother puts it: “Imagine…they send their daughter off on a plane with suitcases, and she comes back in a body bag…”

Here at Yonsei, we will be continuing to pay our respects in the wake of this terribly unfortunate incident, and I ask that you also keep the family of my former classmate in your thoughts as they endure their loss.

Being social is exhausting.

Many people think I am an extrovert.

And I understand this assumption. I genuinely enjoy public speaking, so I handle myself very well with people. I can easily spark conversation with strangers in any kind of setting, and even am confident about carrying on intimate conversations with people born generations before me.

Based on what I described, it probably does sound that I am an extrovert.

But I promise, I am not.

For me, socializing is exhausting. I don’t hate it per se, but I hate the energy that it requires. And because of that, I often time rationalize myself into avoiding it.

In addition, I have this odd love-hate relationship with people. This is to say that I really love people. I love watching people; seeking to understand how people form their motives and morals, and make their decisions; learning about peoples vulnerabilities and small quirks and all the small things that go unloved or unappreciated.

But at the same time, I hate people, genuinely avoid human interaction as much as possible.

It’s odd and confusing, I know. To bring it back together, though, I typically regard myself as an ‘outgoing introvert’.

 

My reasoning for mentioning all of this is mainly just to shortly talk about the social exhaustion I mentioned above that I’m currently enduring. Being in a new place, it is natural that I need to do a lot in order to establish myself comfortably–including in terms of friends and a social life. That means lots of introductions, lots of the same questions over and over, and lots of superficial basic conversations to get the ball rolling. Just my cup of tea.

I especially struggle a bit with this because I really love my own company. Those who know me well know that it’s not uncommon to find me sitting in my room, alone, in the dark (because why waste electricity?). Literally as happy as I can be in the company of myself. Back at home, when presented with the choice to go out and forcefully chat with uninteresting strangers, versus sitting in my own company, 4/5 times I opt for the later. Add on inconvenience of transversing from Point A to B and the frigid weather that usually graces Ithaca, NY most of the year, and you can come to the correct conclusion that I don’t spend to much energy socializing. So to be suddenly ramping up the amount of human contact I have here has really been having its effects on me.

Another layer of this social exhaustion emerges when I factor in keeping up with people from back home. I don’t have too many people I keep in contact with, but those I do are spread across an entire spectrum in terms of physical and personal closeness. I have family members in the US, UK and Nigeria, very dear friends in France, Canada, China, Mexico, Ecuador and the UK, on top of colleagues back in Ithaca. And since the people I need to keep up with range from friends and family members, to mentors and other academic affiliates, it seems like I am always in need to contact one person or the other. Which, again, never fails to leave me socially exhausted.

This definitely was something about traveling that had never crossed my mind–have you ever had a similar issue?

No Hugs, Please

UPDATE: I’m in South Korea!!

I realize that my time in Tokyo was so short and busy, so I wasn’t able to get out too much content about it specifically. Because of this, I’ve decided that even though I’m currently in Korea, I’ll still be making posts dedicated to my experiences in Tokyo. I hope it doesn’t get too confusing; I am not in Tokyo, but you will be seeing content about it!

Now on to today’s post(:

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I was never a hugger. While hugging exists pretty predominantly in Nigerian culture, its not something that I did with too many people while growing up. I remember feeling uncomfortable in middle school, when hugging started becoming a big thing. I knew it was a nice gesture, but it just felt…odd for me.

Fast forward to the present, where this awkward sensation is one of the middle school things that I never managed to shake off. This past semester, I became close with some friends who really LOVE hugging (shout out to you, Sara!). So you would think that I would have grown accustomed to it by now.

But nope. It’s still awkward for me, and I actually secretly hate it (sorry Sara!).

So can you guess one thing I have found very refreshing since I’ve been in East Asia? No hugging.

Now of course, they do hug here. I just think it’s on a lesser scale than we do in the States. It’s been very nice actually, not having to mentally prep myself for the close exchange, especially at the end of an encounter with a person.

However, there still is a downside–since I am around a lot of other foreign students, the hugging culture is still here. It actually feels like it is intensified, being that we are in a society that doesn’t do it as often.

I honestly am not really sure where else I was going with this, but I felt like I should share that.

 

TL;DR: Am I considering moving to Asia solely to avoid hugging? Maybe. You’ll have to stay tuned for that.

Perfect Timing: My Identity Was Stolen ):

This is something I have moreso kept to myself since it happened, but I figured that if I was going to share this with anyone, why not do it on a public platform accessible to anyone (go big or go home, right…)?

Now before I strike any fear in those of you considering traveling: this theft DID NOT happen overseas. It happened at home, in the US. And honestly, I’ve had my bank card info stolen before, so the incident isn’t terribly shocking for me. However, it’s the miraculously horrible timing in which it occurred that has really left me in a bind.

Based on backtracking my card activity, whomever got a hold of my information started draining my bank account the day after I left. What a coincidence. In addition, I had just purchased a new phone the day before that–so I had none of my apps, including my banking app. That, on top of the fact that I was traveling and had in mind to use only cash while outside the country, created a really perfect catastrophe for me, since I wasn’t checking my account regularly like I usually would.

The part that flusters me the most is when this breach in security occurred. Even up until this moment, I still have my physical card with me. I know that it must’ve happened during one of my purchases, but it’s still chilling to me how things have become; it’s almost like no matter how careful you are, there are still ways for you to end up with the short end of the stick.

 

I found all this out while I was trying to book my plane ticket from Japan to South Korea (again, perfect timing). Once I realized I had negative cash in my account, I essentially put a halt on almost all my spendings. During the rest of my days in Tokyo, I was spending money only on essential food (which could luckily be purchased relatively cheaply at the wonderful Japanese convenience stores) and subway transportation. The amount of money I had left was painful; with about four days left in Japan, I was down to what would be the equivalent of around $3. THREE DOLLARS.

While I joked about having to share food with the street animals, I must humbly say that I’ve never been that poor in my life. The worst thing was the subway–having to pay to get to and from campus made me cringe, and pray each time that it would be enough to cover the journey (I also loaded the card in about 300JPY increments–just under $0.30USD).

Again, it was a very humbling experience. Being in a pinch like such in a foreign country where you have no personal contacts is really scary. I was still lucky though; my accommodations were already paid for, and I was in a program that not only had activities planned and set up, but also people whom I could potentially look to for a hand up. Not to mention a reliable mother back home who saved me with a Western Union transaction.

Up to today, even in South Korea, I am not entirely out of the woods. I still have to wait for my bank to resolve the problem, issue me a new card, and have that card mailed from the US to Japan–which will probably take maybe another two weeks. I recently got a second WU installment (really, THANKS MOM)–just another couple hundred to hopefully hold me until then.

Those who know me know that I’m pretty frugal with money (some people say ‘cheap’). And after this experience, THEY HAVE NO IDEA.

 

TL; DR: Someone drained my bank account, I shared food with Japanese dogs, and you can now think of me along the lines of Maclemore, circa ‘Thrift Shop’ era.

Don’t Back Down From The Things You Truly Desire

As the time elapsed during these two weeks that I have spent here in Tokyo, I repeatedly reminded myself how grateful I was to be able to have such an awesome experience. From making new friends from all around the world, to having intimate contact with multinational corporations such as Nissan, the abroad experience I am having is absolutely more than I could ever have planned out myself (and it’s only getting started!!!!)

But I think it’s crucial for me to share all aspects of my journey with you. Including the fact that this study abroad trip almost never happened for me.

 

You see, people know me to be a strong-willed person who articulately speaks her mind, and lets her opinions be heard. And that is who I am on the inside.

But with my parents, I am a bit of a different person. Combined with the suppressive nature of Nigerian culture towards children, as well as my desire to be the daughter that does everything right in her parents’ eyes, I adopt a more reserved persona around my parents.

I could go on detailing how this played out over my entire life, but I’ll just reference the two that are most central to this portion of my life: my desire to align with what my parents like, and my desire to avoid confrontation with my parents (Disclaimer: ‘Parents’ mainly refers to ‘Mother’). These basically sum up to one behavior that I have become so well-versed at doing–avoiding things that my parents don’t like.

This study abroad opportunity fell into the category of ‘things my parents don’t like’. I knew this before I even mentioned it to them. Which is actually why I went ahead and applied to the program before ever mentioning it to them. Once I brought it up to them, just as I expected, they abhorrently rejected the idea. And while I was initially only slightly saddened, in order to abide by my parents wishes and to avoid any argument, I withdrew my application from the applicant pool.

I actually thought I was okay at first, but as the days and weeks passed, I felt myself becoming more and more solemn. This was especially the case when I would have to think about post-graduate decisions; if I’m going to pursue a graduate degree, when will I next ever have an opportunity to travel the world?

It was after speaking with a friend about my circumstances that I had my change in heart. Her words were so simple: “I think you should try. I think you should fight.” But something about those words really touched me. They told me that my desires are valid. They told me that I have to live my life how I saw best. They told me I have to fight for what I want, always, even when my adversaries are the people in this world who probably have my best interests in mind more than anyone else.

So I embarked on a frantic backpedal. I sent emails and made phone calls, desperate to get my application back into the applicant pool. My heart sank at the initial responses that told me it was too late–the application period was far gone. But after reaching out to the Japanese, Korean and Hong Kong representatives, they were gracious enough to allow me to file my application late.

But that was the easy part–my fight with my parents was still pending.

It was the most difficult because my parents have very rigid ideas of what is “right” and what is “wrong”. Things that are “right” include opening companies, taking coding courses, going to medical school, etc. The things that are “wrong” are much more diverse–and essentially include anything that they are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with. And study abroad–especially to East Asia–fit perfectly into this later category.

Honestly, even up until the few days before I left, my father was not in approval of this trip. After I brought the program up to him for a second time while I was trying to reapply, he essentially cut me off and avoided any interaction that included talk about study abroad. This especially worried my mother, but my friend’s words kept playing in my head–fight. I knew this was what I wanted, and for that reason, I was unwilling to yield to anyone’s opinions.

TL;DR–Don’t waver on your desires. If you truly think that it’s not only something you want, but you need, go for it with all your might.

Valentine’s Day in Japan

Hello everyone!

Sorry I have yet to post–but I have some great pieces that I’m finalizing for you, so stay tuned!

I have only been in Japan for one week, and wow, what a trip it has been so far. I am so excited to let you in on all that I have been doing. My schedule here is very packed (they don’t call it an intensive program for nothing!), so please just bear with me!!

Until I can post my longer pieces, I just thought I would be a little festive and let you in on how Valentine’s Day in Japan operates!

While the idea behind it is fairly similar to what you would see in the West, the way in which it gets celebrated is a bit different!

Just like you would expect, this day of love is very big on giving chocolate–choco–to others. However, in Japan there are actually three types of choco, with each one being used in different situations.

  • Tomo choco is chocolate that is given from one friend to another.
  • Giri choco is distributed to people whom you have a more formal relationship with, such as your boss, teacher, or co-workers.
  • Honmei choco is the one that we are most familiar with in the West–chocolate that you give to your love interest!

But this isn’t the only twist that exists in Japan’s Valentine practices. While in America and other western nations we are used to the idea of the men initiating such gestures, in Japan it is the women who are behind the giving of honmei choco!

Today, I received tomo choco from the Japanese students in my program. I actually was very surprised  to receive it–in the States, the only time that people really distribute Valentine’s chocolates to large groups of people is in elementary or middle school. Their kind gestures today was just one of the many hospitable interacts I have had in Japan thus far, and I am ever so grateful to be able to have such an experience.

 

Pre-Pre-Departure: First Steps For A Smooth Trip

Hey everyone. I’m again writing to you from still at home in the US.

As I have been scrambling to get things together, I figured I would share with you things that I am having to get done “pre-pre-departure”; that is, things needed to be situated well before the departure date in order to ensure an easy trip.

PASSPORT: This is the first, first, FIRST thing that needs to get handled if you plan on leaving the country. And I don’t mean like 6-weeks ahead of time. I mean months. You never know what may happen while you’re trying to renew your passport. For instance, when I renewed mine in 2015, the first one they sent back to me got lost in the mail, so I didn’t even get my passport until well past the time period it was estimated to arrive (even though I paid for expedited shipping :\) That being said, you definitely don’t want to wait until the last minute to take care of this only to be faced with a train wreck when something goes amiss. Get this done ASAP.

VISAS: There are different rules for obtaining visas for different countries, and they mainly differ depending on the nation where you have citizenship. Make sure you check up on the rules regarding visas well before you leave. Often, if you are staying less than a certain time in a country (e.g. 30 days, 60 days), they won’t require a visa. But make sure to quadruple-check this. Getting a visa definitely takes less time than getting a passport; I received my Korean visa within two weeks of submitting all of the necessary document to the Consulate (p.s. make sure you find out where the Consulate/Embassy for your state is located). You also need to take into consideration that they often want you to include more than just the application in the package you send them. For Korea, they wanted bank statements, Certification of Business Registration and some other documents (the latter two provided by the university I’ll be studying at). But on top of that, they wanted a TB skin test–which they only told me after I had sent in my package containing all the documents detailed on their website. So as you can see, again, there are many unforeseen ways that the process can very easily become more lengthy than initially thought to be. I am guilty of not being quick enough to start this particular process, so I will emphasize (again), get this done. ASAP.

MEDICATIONS: This won’t apply to everyone, but I am mentioning it because it is SUPER important. If you have a medical condition that requires you to take prescribed medications, start addressing this as soon as possible. First, find out if it is even legal where you’re going. For instance, amphetamines are EXTREMELY PROHIBITED in East Asian countries (which happens to be what I take for my narcolepsy). So I have had to do extensive research to find a substitute that is permitted where I’m going. On top of that, you need to find out how you will get access to these meds while you are abroad. Can you import it to your destination? Will you have to go to a specific doctor? Are there any of those doctors in the vicinity where you’ll be staying? Will the doctor speak English? Can you buy it without insurance (without breaking the bank)? If you have coverage from your insurance company back home, can you get them to cover the costs? Get in touch with your point of contact(s) in the nation(s) you’re going to (as well as your physician(s) and insurance company) for help with these questions. I am still trying to sort things out, and I will admit, it is tedious and frustrating. So get started on this one ASAPASAPASAP.

TECHNOLOGY: This is less important than the prior ones (as far as possibly making-or-breaking your ability to travel), but come on; in this day and age, who is gonna be traveling without some form of technology? The most important one that you want to check up on is your cell phone. If you will be using an overseas plan from your cellular provider in your come country, this becomes less important. [Note: This doesn’t seem to be the ideal route; even the rep at AT&T advised me against going for their international plan.] Whether you’ll do this or opt for a SIM card from your destination, you still want to spend a bit of time finding out whether your cell phone will work where you’re going. For instance, it turns out that my iPhone 5 (yes, I know, its “soooo old”) isn’t entirely compatible with the frequencies that they use in East Asia. So I will likely be getting a new phone before going. Also, if you are going to choose to buy a SIM card in the country you’re traveling to, MAKE SURE YOUR PHONE IS UNLOCKED. If you are under contract or still paying off your phone, it’s probably not unlocked, and you won’t be able to use it with another SIM card or mobile carrier. I was informed that to get an unlocked iPhone now, I have to buy it straight from the Apple retailer. So I’ll likely be doing that soon.

Another aspect to keep in mind are outlets. Your intended destination may not have the same outlet shape or voltage as your home country, so your appliances may not work either. Plugging in an incompatible device could be dangerous, so you really want to stay on the safe side with this issue. For me, that meant investing in an outlet strip that doubles as a travel adaptor and voltage converter. Some quick online searches will give you the answers for questions concerning this, so make sure to do them so you don’t end up *shocked* upon arrival.

OTHER IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS: In a foreign land, you are always better off safe than sorry. This being said, you need to gather documentation of all the things we take for granted while at home. And not only will you need the documents, but COPIES of them. I want you to become best friends with copiers and scanners before you leave. Copies of passports, visas, insurance documents, admissions documents, identification cards, ALL OF IT. And having a PDF version saved on your computer or a thumb drive puts you in an even better position (**gold stars for those who do this**). Keep these documents in a nice designated folder in a safe place (but keep some of these things on your person as well, like copies of passports and the like). We don’t want to think of unfortunate scenarios, but if you’re in a rut things will be undoubtably better when you have easy access to these kinds of documents.

 

Once my take-off date comes a little closer, I’ll come back to you guys to share my pre-departure routine.

Why ‘Anti-Etiquette’

Now Presenting: My First Post!

I’m so excited to be able to document my trip and share it with everyone who makes their way across my page. I’m currently still in the States (and actually have quite some time before I will be leaving), so I figured I would let you all in on the ideas behind the namesake of this blog.

Anti-Etiquette

It’s no coincidence that this name is the same pseudonym that I use for another online platform: YouTube. Thus, the immediate reason for my choice to use it as the title of my blog was identity consistency. I figured that if I really want to build my brand as a content producer, I should stick with one name, and anti-etiquette is what made the cut. If you ever get the chance, I would greatly appreciate it if you popped into my channel, where I will also be documenting my study abroad experience and sharing other life stories and advice. And a subscription would be even better!! What have you got to lose–check it out here!

But the story regarding the original inception of this name is the more significant one. When thinking of this name, I wanted something that encompassed me in multiple dimensions. From my experience on social media and similar websites, I really liked and appreciated people who found witty ways to incorporate their real name into their online pseudonym. And I also wanted a name that was ambiguous–I didn’t want to be ‘makeupgawdess’ or ‘yoga queen’ or anything too specific like that, because I wanted to have flexibility in the type of content that I produced. And of course, I needed something short, sweet, and easy to pronounce (contrary to my given name, which is unfamiliar to people who don’t speak my language, and houses a silent letter that almost always causes mispronunciation).

Brainstorming for such a name was actually a very long and taxing process. I went through a series of names, and grappled with pros and cons of each. While it seems like a minute detail, to me, it was a vital part of the new journey I was starting: one’s name is one’s brand, and future branding I engaged in built off of it.

Deep down, I feel that if I spend more time thinking, I could come up with a better name. But I needed to settle down and commit to one, so when ‘anti-etiquette’ came along, I was more than content with it.

‘Okay, cool story bro; but what the hell does it mean?’

‘anti-etiquette’ represent me. ‘Etiquette’, according to Dictionary.com, means ‘conventional requirements as to social behavior’. And anyone who knows me, knows that I hate anything ‘conventional’. I yearn to go against the tide, and have a distaste for following any sort of norms or status quo. Thus, ‘anti-etiquette’. I also doesn’t hurt that ‘etiquette’ shares the same first three letters with my name.

That wraps up my first post~

I’m so excited to share this portion of my life with you all. Make sure to subscribe to this blog, as well as my YouTube channel, which I plan on being very active on during my time abroad. See you all soon!