As New Order once put it: I used to think that the day would never come. As it happens though, the day is here and today I’m leaving Durango and saying goodbye to the Basque Country after two up and down years here.
Now, I say up and down but the truth is that year one was very much an ‘up year’ while year two has been almost 100% down. It’s not been a vintage year at work – let’s say that much – and while last year was a breeze, this year it’s just been one thing after another going wrong.
It’s not just work though. While Durango has its positives – everything is close by, you’re surrounded by beautiful mountains and the beer is cheap – for me, it has had a shelf-life. Part of the reason I came here was to take a break from the hectic life of Tokyo; I suppose I wasn’t really sure what I wanted and the only way to find out was to try something different! I’ve had the break I needed, and now it’s time for a change.
The takeaways (no, not the local kebab house)
This year I’ve learnt a hell of a lot. Most importantly, I now know the type of place I want to be. When I was a bit sick of work in Tokyo, it was evened out by the fact I lived in Tokyo. There was plenty to do on my days off and distract myself from the mundanity of my job.
Here, however, there’s really not that much to do. There are only so many times you can climb a mountain (once, if you were curious), and getting into the beautiful city of San Sebastian is an absolute nightmare without a car. I’ve even found myself teaching online at weekends – if I’m going to be doing nothing, I might as well make some money in the process!
So yeah, aside from the confirmation that I’m a city boy at heart, I’ve also figured out a bit more about my goals and what I want to do with myself. Or, more specifically, I’ve definitely decided I don’t want to teach kids any longer!
I’ve also started running, ran two half-marathons in Vitoria and San Sebastian and generally started living healthier and drinking less. So thanks for that, Durango!
Finally, as always I seem to have surrounded myself with some great people who have made all the difference to my two years here. Isn’t it strange how I keep managing to do that?!
It may come as no surprise to read that I’m city-bound once again. And perhaps even less surprising to hear that it’s a city in Asia: China, to be specific. As I type, I’m awaiting documentation for my working visa before booking a flight to Dalian to teach in a university in the north of China.
Providing there’s no visa-related hiccups, I should be there by the end of August. I’m looking forward to city life once more, having something to blog about and things to take pictures of! Although looking back at the post I wrote when leaving Tokyo, maybe it’s not so much the place that’s the problem but the person. Does this sound familiar?
I feel like two years is a good length of time to spend in a country. A year didn’t really feel like I’d scratched the surface – the novelty factor was still well and truly alive and it kind of felt like an extended holiday. After a second year without the novelty factor, I’m feeling satisfied that I’ve lived it and can move on. I’m leaving after two years with good memories, although I’m not sure a third year of Tokyo commuting would have left me feeling quite as positive.
Look out for a similar post about leaving Dalian in the summer of 2021…maybe!
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