Expatriating to Tokyo. Self-Reflecting. Diving into Discovery.

A moment of change.

When my husband was offered a new position within his company, it came with an unusual and seductive opportunity for our family. The job was located in Japan and our family of five would be sent on an international assignment to Tokyo.

So, we jumped. We jumped fully and whole-heartedly.

During those four months leading up to our exit from Switzerland, we were intent to not leave one stone un-turned. We painstakingly considered where we would live in Japan, which school our three children should attend and every itty-bitty financial, social and practical aspect of our expatriation. With these heavy decisions looming and mountains of boring administration at hand, I would still lay awake during the nights from sheer excitement (probably mixed with anticipation!) for the adventure that lay ahead.

In that short time, I naturally drank many glasses of wine with my girlfriends, discussing and plotting, laughing and bonding. During those sessions, a reoccurring question I heard was:

“Stacie, what are YOU going to do for three years in Japan?”.

At the time, there were no real answers and I had little time to think about it. In all honestly, I could only promise them that it just felt right. Despite all reasons to hesitate and to question, namely my newly established and expanding business partnership with a dear friend, it felt good. Now that we are safely settling-in on the other side of the move, my mind is still busily mulling over this question. “What DO I want to do during our time in Japan?”

The bigger picture is clear:

  • I want to blow the dust off of the camera we bought for our one-year wedding anniversary and learn to use it
  • I want to speak with the locals, in their language
  • I want to walk thru Shinjuku without google maps
  • I want my children to eat more fruit
  • I want to see Japan thru the eyes of others

But the day-to-day, practical picture is much more complex. It all sounds very appealing: quit your job, move to a new country, spend every day exploring and learning… but the reality is perhaps a bit deeper. It makes me think…

At this stage of life, we have gone through many role changes.

For me, it has been daughter growing up in a rural American town to university student to young professional in New York City to wife to career woman to new mother to business owner… and I am wondering where I will go next? What and who will I become? Will this experience change me? How?

I look back at all of the roles I have played and I ask myself, which “me” am I proudest of? Why? What does that “me” look like and feel like? From where did she get energy? Am I still that “me”? If not, what changed me?

Change is not my go-to mode. I am a hard-core creature of comfort and revel in the known. It drives my husband mad that I can walk the exact same way to the shop each and every time I go. For me, there is no question. I will always take the same path, each and every time. I love the security of a good plan – even if it is only walking to buy milk. That’s just me.

But change is somehow, weirdly, a deep and natural part of me too. Through all of the role changes in my life, I have also taken quite a few game changing de-tours. When Johan had to relocate to London from New York early on in our relationship, I didn’t hesitate. I was in! I packed up my independent self and dove head and heart first into our new life together.

So am I ready for more changes ahead? You bet.

The thought of another life experience, as a family, an individual and as a mother, I realize it is also the perfect moment for an adventure. I can recreate myself. I can awaken those bits of “me” that I cherished but somehow disappeared and find new pieces of “me” – all set against the extraordinary backdrop of Japan.

I am not done growing and learning. I am not the perfect “me”. Not yet.

Armed with my new perspective, a few new friends and Google Maps, I am off to discover Japan in the broadest sense. I will share with you the ideas, the emotions and, when possible, the deeper meaning behind what I see, captured in words and in pictures.

Perhaps it was difficult, over those wines with my girlfriends, to imagine this part; to imagine a next page. My life in Switzerland was incredible: fab husband, three healthy children, true friendships and a budding young business. We enjoyed a good life and I was happy, safe and sure.

But, I WILL get out that (very old) camera and I WILL use the travel journal my friend gave me. And I will document in words and photos the incredible journey we are on.

And I might even grow a little, too!

Tokyo, the perfect place for reflection
Tokyo, the perfect place for reflection




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