This past Sunday night, my grandma and I were just eating dinner. We decided to open the shades to ventilate the living room, but instead we were met with a collective gasp! Out in the sky was a huge moon—and a red one at that. I’d only seen this kind of moon on the covers of vampire/werewolf/supernatural creature novels (sorry, I am neither Team Edward nor Team Jacob), but to see it in person was breathtaking!

Super Blood Moon next to the Skytree

Of course, I’d already seen pictures of this natural wonder on my Facebook newsfeed with the hashtag #SuperBloodMoon (unfortunately, where I get most of my news), but didn’t think I would get to be seeing it all the way over here in Tokyo. Massachusetts and Japan are separated by a thirteen-hour time difference, and California and Japan are separated by a sixteen-hour one. Now I don’t completely understand the actual logistics of how long an eclipse should last (I thought it was only a few minutes…?), but I definitely didn’t think it would travel halfway across the world and still be eclipsed!!

This was all beautiful, but it got me thinking about the impact of the time difference for international students living in Japan. As we get further and further into college, it becomes harder and harder to maintain contact with our friends from other countries. To begin with, preparing ourselves to become actual functioning adults in the real working world gives us so many more responsibilities—so we have less downtime for the things outside of our schedule. Then, there’s room for technical difficulty like Wi-fi connection and the ability to be multi-tasking while you’re in a video conference.

All these things made me think that time difference would be a huge obstacle and that it would be very crippling to my communication, especially because I’m not that good at keeping in touch long-distance. But being away from friends at home has strengthened some of my relationships, rather than weakened them. I guess the age-old “absence makes the heart grow fonder” idiom is pretty true!

Instead of literally instant messaging, I’m able to drop messages here and there throughout the day until the other person reads it. Usually, it’ll be in their morning while it’s nighttime over here–and this is surprisingly effective, as one of us is ready to face the day while the other is getting ready to finish it. It’s a little hard to explain, but it’s almost as if the fact that I’ve lived the day ahead of them (though this is technically not true) and that they are reliving the day that I’ve just had (also untrue), makes both of us more optimistic for the coming day.

And not only that, but when I really am alone from my California and Boston friends (a time chunk usually from about 4 until I sleep; they’re sleeping at this time so I can’t reach them), it pushes me to develop the relationships around me, instead of through the internet. Looking at the Super Blood Moon with my grandma was a new kind of bonding experience that I don’t get at home–and it was pretty nice seeing that the rest of my apartment complex was also looking out from their balconies and enjoying the moon.


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