Life in a host country is a multifaceted experience. It brings with it the opportunities to explore a new and diverse culture, to meet people and make friends in a way improbable or impossible by staying at home. It takes courage, or foolhardiness depending on your perspective, to leave behind what you know and embark on a new life. In these days of the internet, email and Skype, the wanderlust is maybe a little less emotional than it once used to be; to an extent the umbilical cord is not so much severed as stretched but it remains a step into the unknown.
And living away from where you grew up, the nationality you were born into, brings you together with others who are sharing the same experience, that of a foreigner in a foreign land. With the life of learning in a new country comes with it the opportunity to share your time with others stumbling as yourself, as best they can, not just experiencing their time but bringing with them a little of their own lives and backgrounds and seeding that into the friends and circles around them.
By definition the time in a host country is transient and all that is transient will one day come to an end. One of the sadnesses of this lifestyle is saying goodbye to friends as they move on to the next stage of their journey. And today we say goodbye to friends who have enjoyed the pleasures, and the frustrations, of Japan for over five years, bringing with them a suitcase and taking away a beautiful baby daughter. And importantly leaving behind a little of themselves in the memories and stories to which we all belong. Farewell and good luck Michael, Linh and Ella.