Just when you thought Mission Total Immersion (TM) couldn’t get any bigger, well, you were right and it got smaller. As in to say, welcome to Mission Total Immersion 2:
Yes, MTI is back and it’s smaller than ever*. I’m afraid the free-wheeling glory days (/dying in 40 degree heat on the top of mountains wondering about killing myself days) are over, it’s back to work, and at work I have to speak English. While additionally a part of the deal in which I’m living for free in a penthouse in central Milan is that I speak English around the house. Allora, in somma, a classic MTI sort of thing of old just ain’t an option any more.
Also shouldn’t this be MTI 3? Some of you might ask, though I doubt it as a trip back home to friends and family revealed that no-one really gives a shit about MTI. But the answer regardless; no. I’m doing a Grand theft Auto 3 sort of thing, where then after they don’t call the next game GTA 4, but instead make GTA 3: Vice City, or GTA 3: San Andreas, or GTA 3: A Place, because in this way they get away with not having to evolve any of the concepts too much or having to really take anything to the next level in any way. People say ah but it’s still 3, so it’s ok that it’s the same game. Well this is just a continuation of MTI 2, I’m not proclaiming that it’s reached the next level yet.
However MTI 3 is coming. And it will be bigger than ever (ETA January 2013).
Yea, yea, yea we get it Sam, MTI, the same ol thing… Basically you’re going to try to speak Italian and immerse yourself in the country as much as you can when not in the penthouse suite with the jacuzzi and your in-room huge plasma television and the maids who cook you delicious meals and wash (and iron) all your clothes and the 24 inch mac that you’re writing this post on. When you leave all that you’re going to go out and try and immerse yourself solely in Italy right?
WRONG. Albeit the stuff about the Jacuzzi and maids is correct so well done for that part. But it’s wrong because Mission Semi Immersion has a twist…
I’m going to be immersing myself not in Italy, but in Japan, while in Milan. So that’s Japan in Milan. Japan in Milan… ah man that should of been it… MTI 2: Japan in Milan. It rhymes and everything. Though if I go back and change the title now I’d have to go back and rewrite the post. However it is better…
Ok I’m changing the title of MTI 2: Mission Semi Immersion half way through it’s birth to;
Mission Total Immersion 2: Japan in Milan
Though now looking back, there is something I like about Mission Total Immersion: Mission Semi Immersion. It’s something about the inherent contradiction in its title. So after a bit of though I think I’ll use both. Hence, welcome to…
MTI 2: Mission Semi Immersion; Japan in Milan
So to get to the important part… The reason I’m in this penthouse is actually to save money for my trip to Japan in January that I’ve booked a flight for already. I have to say I’d actually rather live on my own I think and have as close to a true Milan experience as I can, rather than living in a penthouse for free where I have to speak English. But I need all the money I can save. Though then again sitting here with all my ironed, freshly purchased, alla moda milanese garments laid out to my side, and an ice cold beer in my hand, I’m not sure if that’s really the only reason I’m choosing to live here. While also I still go out every night and socialise with the Milanese, work here in different places all round the city, and am enrolled in cookery courses, making friends with all the other regulars… in fact I’m experiencing more of Milan than I ever did of London, regardless of where I’m staying, and tal…
BUT SHUTUP WITH YOUR BLABBERING SAM, WHY JAPAN?
Now, back at work, it’s hard to relate to that cycling kid who sleeps on benches when he has money to pay for hotels. He really seems a long way away. However I still remember him and his dissapointment at the adventure he found in Italy. This is in no means to insult the country, I love it here, it’s just to say that if anything it was a step down from my last experience. Auschwitz to London, through Poland, a place I knew far less about. That was a real adventure, and that was something I never quite managed to capture again out here. I don’t regret anything I did out here, in fact so much good has come from it that there is no way I ever possibly could, it’s just nothing really surprised me, nothing really made me go ‘wow’.
The next time I get invited into a random person’s house, I want him to be really foreign, and I want us to be speaking in his really foreign language. I want to understand nothing about the place I’m in. I want to be impressed by how far I’ve taken myself away from that which I know, and how far into something of which I don’t.
This was the thought that invaded my head one day on my bike and never left, as if Leonardo DiCaprio had inceptioned me. The idea grew with every pedal, with every stop, with every experience that didn’t quite cut it for me. Japan was the solution. Japan is now where I’m going. I booked a flight as soon as I got confirmation from a family that I could live with them for 3 months.
I found a man in Japan who cooks a lot, he said I could stay with him and his family. Then I will go cycling across Japan when the 3 months are up. I’m going there to continue all the objectives of this trip but somewhere else.
BUT WHAT DOES JAPAN IN MILAN MEAN?
I got 3 months to learn some good-ish Japanese before I arrive in January. I figure in Italy I’ve spoken Italian about 2/3 hours a day for 3 months and am now pretty decent. I thus figure if I can immerse myself in Japan somehow within Milan for 2/3 hours a day, I should be pretty good by the time I arrive. I want to be doing this immersion by October 1st, so I have 1 more week to find my Japanese people.
Don’t worry all lovers of Italy, I still love this country and will be perfecting my conjunctivo at the same time. I’ll be back afterwards.
I don’t think any of these posts would be complete without the moments where I doubt myself and everything I’m doing and my whole life. And of course this decision and new mission isn’t without these kind of doubts, so all the people who just come here to watch me cry, we’re now getting to the good stuff.
As I said, this whole idea was spawned during my cycling days and that’s also when I brought the ticket. The Sam of those days was in a completely different mental place. However I think my return to London reminded me of real life, while just before London in France when I announced my plans, my dad also reminded me of the normal world and it’s responsibilities, asking me questions like; don’t you think that’s a little bit impulsive? Do you not fear that this may all be just another one of your obsessions? (I think we all want to watch me stick to something). Of course he wasn’t trying to discourage me, he was just asking questions that I’d even asked myself, questions that maybe need asking.
Or maybe they don’t. The thing is I do live in this little fantasy out here, and maybe when I return home the bubble cracks a bit. But the fantasy isn’t a fantasy here, it’s my reality, I feel like there’s a world without limits and how incredible it is to have a world like that which feels like your reality. I’m off to Japan in 3 months to go live there for a while, maybe another life will wait for me there like this one I’ve found for myself in Italy and in Milan. Maybe it won’t. Maybe I should be staying here, striking while the Iron is hot. Maybe the pursuit of these adventures is stupid, perhaps they don’t exist, perhaps the true adventures of this world are those that arise from staying still and I shouldn’t just be running off again on a whim. Like I started thinking before; an adventure isn’t bike dependent.
And there that paragraph shows just how rapidly the thoughts can change, from everything seeming completely right and incredible, to me stepping outside the bubble, and feeling like I’m being brash and idiotic, clueless and unrealistic. However that’s when I need to stare at the facts. I’m going to Japan for a while, I’m going there with my body and with my mind, how could it ever be a bad thing. I’m going to learn Japanese. I’m going to return knowing Japanese. If someone had said to me on my 23rd birthday, by the time you’re 25 you will be able to speak Italian and Japanese (and have given up smoking, just chuck that one in there), I think I would’ve been pretty chuffed and excited, but more than anything, proud.
So I’m ready. All hands are on deck, so bring on…
Mission Total Immersion 2: Mission Semi Immersion; Japan in Milan.
*Avid readers of these posts will remember that the last MTI announcement started with the opposite sentence, so just a bit of call-back humour there, hope you enjoyed it.