Life in Tokyo

The thing I learned in Tokyo

I’m back in Malaysia!

Hundreds of things to talk about. Although I’ve been absent these days I’ve been productive in other aspects of my life heh.

So. I left home a year ago, excited to experience life in Tokyo. I was sure that I would enjoy it a lot, despite being cautioned that life in Tokyo wouldn’t be as rosy as I would imagine and that I would get over it once the eccentricities of Tokyo suck the life out of me.

To keep it short, I got over Tokyo. It still is my favorite city, but over the past year I realize how good my life is back in KL, that I began truly appreciating what I had back home. It was more of the pull factor rather than the push.

I notice that I’ve a personal life in Tokyo lifecycle:

Just before I left, I was exhausted. I was yearning more out of life and decided to go on this MBA journey in Tokyo. In the first half, everything was exciting. I arrived in the city of my dreams. I felt that this was what I wanted, life in a thriving city where it’s so organized. The people were so polite and well-dressed. The streets and restrooms were clean.

The school and its faculty on the other hand, blew my mind and exceeded my expectations. Attending classes and learning more about the Japanese industries and general business environment, it seemed as if Tokyo offered many more opportunities and allowed me to explore possibilities I wouldn’t have imagined back at home.

Living in a studio in Odaiba and receiving a generous stipend that’s about the average salary of a fresh graduate working in Japan, life was super comfortable. I often ate out, joined nomikai to socialize with classmates, shopped. I figured that life would be even better if I were working in a major MNC hiring Hitotsubashi MBAs in Tokyo. I didn’t worry so much about Reza, because at the time, he also saw it as an opportunity and if he wanted to, he could’ve found a job there more easily than I would, being a Japanese graduate who speaks Japanese.

Also enjoyed my independence. Moving when I wanted, having complete control of the studio and kitchen. Learning how to manage a house and household chores on my own.

Oh, there was no such thing as being home sick. I was ready to migrate 😆


On the second half, I suppose the magic was slowly fading away. Still loved the city, but I didn’t go out as much as I used to. I began realizing what it is that I loved about home.

Hitotsubashi gives great support for students who wants to pursue a career in Japan. The career services office give advice and introduce interested students to major organizations that they have relationship with — from major consulting firm BCG, conglomerate Mitsubishi to design consulting firms Daishinsha. Plus, having a Hitotsubashi MBA means something to the Japanese companies. The biggest challenge if I wanted to make it in the city in the business line is language. Some require us to get N1 certified (that’s the highest level in the Japanese language certification). If there’s a will, there’s a way. If I had really wanted it, I would’ve worked for it, but along the way I decided it was not something that I wanted. Yes, I would earn a lot more than I would from an average MNC back in Malaysia, but I felt that simply earning and spending in Tokyo wouldn’t bring that much meaning to my life.

Slowly, too, I realized of all the little luxuries that I had back at home, the things I wouldn’t have if I were to move to Tokyo.

What luxuries? The luxury of having a room at home that’s bigger than my studio in Odaiba, the luxury of driving a comfortable car, the luxury of having someone who would cook and clean for me (the Europeans freaked out when I told them that I have a maid), the luxury of having Reza take me out for all the meat I can eat, the luxury of getting luxurious facials and hair treatments and manipedi at an affordable price, being able to do it regularly. Most importantly, I think, is the luxury of a strong support system and good company at home. I figured I had a really good life back at home and the happiness I could have achieved from living in Tokyo and earning in yen may not be able to completely top that. To each her own, but as I thought about the future, I decided that these “luxuries” mean more to me that living in Tokyo.

Also, after a year of school and discovering and rediscovering my strengths, I was prepared than ever to go back and contribute to my country. So I left that thought of earning just for myself and went back to the bigger picture of not just earning, but contributing to something bigger.

I spent a lot of time reflecting about where to head, realizing what home meant along the way, that I was ready to go back when the time came. I packed more than a month before leaving Tokyo and when I left, not a tear was shed.

I still adore Tokyo and I would return, but I got over it, if that makes any sense. I’m back, with a greater sense of appreciation for home and feeling grateful for this journey more than ever.

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  • Avatar
    September 18, 2016 at 6:19 PM

    nice one Mia! welcome home.

  • Avatar
    Hanis O
    September 19, 2016 at 9:57 AM

    Hi Mia! Been missing your updates lol 🙂

    Anyway, I totally get what you meant. Its always the “pull” factor rather than “push”. We always seem to think that the grass is always greener on the other side. And that wherever the place is, it seems like it has a lot more to offer us. I’m from SG by the way, but I still wanna say this … Welcome back home!

    I love Japan, and (almost) everything Japanese too and would love to read more about the time you spent there! The last time I was in Tokyo, I stayed at Grand Pacific Le Daiba. And I agree with you, I fell in love with Odaiba too. Its like you’re in Tokyo, but not really in Tokyo (haha, I’m so bad at explaining) cos its so quiet! Anyways, looking forward to more updates from you 🙂

  • Avatar
    September 30, 2016 at 8:15 PM

    Probably the most moving post I have read here. I have always wanted to migrate too, being an oversea graduate myself. But after reading your post, I’m questioning myself, “Is that what I really want?”

  • Avatar
    January 11, 2017 at 2:02 PM

    i love this post very much

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