The results are in. And they are good.
I passed the master's entrance exam. This means I will enter Kyoto University's Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies in April. This also means I will be staying in Japan for two more years.
I'm really excited about the master's program. The school has a great reputation and most of the classes are in English. I'll get to do interesting research in a field I'm passionate about. I'll learn a whole bunch of new things. And, best of all, I'll get paid to do it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I can't turn down.
The only thing I have mixed feelings about is staying in Japan for another two years. It's not that I'm unhappy here. I have good friends, a nice apartment, and a comfortable life in Kyoto. But it's a lonely kind of life sometimes.
I don't feel connected to the community (I blame the language barrier), and I generally have no idea what's going on (I can't read Japanese newspapers or websites). I picked most of my friends from a transient pool of people -- and almost all of them will be going home in April.
I find myself spending large chunks of time alone. Back in Canada, I used to like being by myself. I used to actively seek out solitude. I never found it difficult to be alone. I found it easy to go for days without talking to another human being. But I don't enjoy being by myself as much here. Being alone in Japan just makes me feel lonely.
It's a low-grade loneliness that never goes away. And it's a corrosive kind of loneliness. Sometimes I feel like this sense of isolation is slowly cutting away at me from the inside. I think a lot of foreigners in Japan feel the same way. You either get over it or you go home.
The sense of isolation ebbs and flows. But for the most part, I like living in Japan and I'm generally pretty happy here. My excitement over entering the master's program overshadows any hesitation I might have about spending another two years here. The positives outweigh the negatives. I passed the exam and I'm glad.