Lost Girl of the Week: Vivian Morelli

Lost Girl of the Week — By on December 15, 2010 at 6:00 am

This week’s LG, Vivian Morelli, pushed her dreams of living abroad to the side to take her dream job after graduating college. But she soon realized her passion to fully experience another part of the world was more important. Since then she has been teaching English in Asia and chronicling her journey through her blog www.vivianlostinseoul.blogspot.com.


Lost girl.

Or…. Lost in Translation, in my case. My love story with Asia started in university, as I first saw Wong Kar-wai’s movie Chungking Express and caught a glimpse of the neon lights of Hong Kong, and got a sudden fascination with this strange, yet mesmerizing land.

I vowed myself to get to that corner of the world as soon as I’d graduate, but life took a different path: I got pretty lucky and landed my dream job for a television show, so all fantasies of escaping and living abroad were pushed aside. Yet, there would always be reminders around me, such as Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, which I became obsessed with. I, too, wanted to become Lost in Translation, but a simple trip wouldn’t cut it. I wanted to live there, work there, and fully experience it, and the best way to do so was to go teach English.

My first teaching stint was a year in Seoul, South Korea. It was an amazing experience, although I had no idea I would be so culture shocked. I loved Seoul with all my heart, as it is a vibrant and lively city, but I was not prepared for the daily challenges of living in a foreign land where I looked completely different and could not speak or understand the language. It was such a wonderful learning experience, and honestly, the teaching part was only a small fraction of my life there. I hiked the beautiful mountains of Korea, stayed up all night dancing in Seoul, and even traveled to Japan (that’s when I fell in love… with Japan). I decided to go home after my year was completed, as I felt I was done.

However, going home was way more difficult than I had imagined, and all I could think about was living abroad, even though I back to running around on movie sets. This time, my heart was set on Japan. I wanted to go back, face the culture shock and pursue my love story with Japan. I have now been here for a full year, living on the beautiful (and remote) Shikoku island, which I think is the most gorgeous, magnificent place in all of Japan. I enjoy teaching English, and the relaxed schedule allows me to focus on what I love doing: writing, running, traveling. I have frequent little weekend getaways to other parts of Japan, such as Kansai to relax in the traditional Kyoto, or Tokyo longer vacations. I meet new, interesting people on a daily basis- people who share the same wanderlust, and who are here for the same reasons. Teaching English abroad is the perfect way to not only save up a lot of money, but also experience daily life in a completely different culture and work on personal projects and goals. Teaching itself is rather challenging, but the kids are adorable and attaching, and I feel like I am making some kind of difference in their lives, mostly culturally rather than well, grammatically.

I believe it takes time to get to know a place and learn the customs and language of another culture, and actually living somewhere rather than taking short trips is more fulfilling for me, as it takes me a significant amount of time to warm up to anything new. To be honest, it’s not always easy and it gets quite lonely, but I would not trade this for anything in the world. I decided to stay for a second year, as I love Japan so much, and in a few weeks I’m moving to the bright lights (and long nights) of Osaka.

To be fair, life in Japan is completely, utterly different from whatever happened in the movie Lost in Translation… it’s much, much better.

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  • Hi Vivian! I love your story, especially since I can relate to so much of it. When I visited Japan, I felt like it was a combination of “Lost in Translation” and “Princess Mononoke” and something even more magical than movies. I’ll be following your website for more stories. ^^

  • I have been examinating out a few of your posts and i must say pretty clever stuff. I will surely bookmark your website