Photo Credit: Courtesy of Regina Farrell
'I Live & Work Like I’m Always On Vacation Here In Japan'
Regina Farrell left the United States for Japan because she was tired of feeling unfulfilled. Before moving abroad, she was living in New York with a great job, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something better.
“Every day, I would wake up wishing I was somewhere else doing something else,” she said to Travel Noire. “I had always been an avid traveler. For me, discovering new places was exhilarating. Nothing compares to the rush of unique experiences and connecting with new cultures.”
There came a point when her daily routine was too mundane. She started researching ways she could make a living abroad and what countries she thought she would most enjoy.
She decided on Japan and during an interview with us, she discusses more on her decision to leave and why she may not return to the US anytime soon.
Travel Noire: How did you decide on Japan?
Farrell: Though I was thrilled to learn about Japanese culture, initially the plan was to go to China. The pay was higher and therefore the ability to save for more travels would increase. However, I chose Japan because there were so many things I wanted to learn about the culture and after interviewing with my employer, I felt confident that I’d have a great work-life balance.
I moved to Japan in February 2020, a week before the first known cases of COVID-19 were reported in New York.
Travel Noire: What is the best part about living abroad, and what have you learned about yourself as an expat?
Farrell: The best part about living abroad is the feeling of safety. There aren’t street lights in my neighborhood. I live in rural Japan but I could walk to the conbini at 2 am and not worry about anything happening. The most important thing is that I’m not being bombarded with microaggressions all the time like back home.
Sure, I’m a foreigner, and some Japanese people have their own opinions on foreigners, but at the very least, I’m respected as a human being. Japan’s culture seems to emphasize thoughtfulness and consideration for others in society, which I really appreciate.
Something I learned about myself as an expat is that no matter where you go self-deprecating thoughts, self-doubt, and procrastination – don’t just disappear. Living abroad won’t magically fix your issues, it’s just a tool. Thanks to the pandemic, I had a lot of time to sit with myself and face the aspects of myself that I wanted to improve and DO the WORK.
Travel Noire: What advice would you give our readers considering a “Blaxit” to live abroad?
Farrell: The most important thing is to make a list of places you could see yourself living, no matter how far-fetched it may seem. Things get real when they’re on paper. Also, keep in mind that vacationing in a place and living there are two different things. That being said, unless you plan on retiring in the location, research professions, salaries, cost of living, company culture, and most importantly, try to find a Black community online that you can be a part of before you plan to go.
This way, you can find answers about the Black experience and make friends who can give you tips on the best preparation. I found several Black communities in Japan on social media. I vent with them, we share advice, and we even meet up.
Travel Noire: Do you think you will ever move back to America? If not, why?
Farrell: As far as living in the US, I’m not sure. In a way, I’ve become somewhat spoiled because my job is so easy, and I get a lot of time off to enjoy the country. To go back and have a 40-hour workweek is not in the cards right now. I live like I’m on vacation, and ideally, I would love to travel for a living, so moving back to the US definitely doesn’t align with my goals.
Travel Noire: What else should our readers know before making the move abroad?
Farrell: Uprooting your life for another country is a bold decision but I highly recommend it to anyone curious, open-minded, and resourceful. Like everything in life, there are challenges you face such as occasional feelings of isolation, limited dating prospects, and missing loved-ones— but I find ways to overcome those issues such as going to the gym, a lot of travel therapy, and connecting with my community online. It’s all about finding something new to enjoy and finding it often, that way you never get bored or dwell on imperfections.
My dream is to keep traveling everywhere. I don’t know if I’ll live in Japan forever, but I’ll never stop traveling.
You can follow my travel journey on Instagram.