As I left Asia for Europe, I thought back to April of 2005. I had completed my stint at university and was ready for a massive change. I remember handing my mother with my university diploma, packing a bag and being pushed out of a car by my good friend Tracy at Charlotte Douglas International airport. I was ready for my first jump into expat life.
While I had never been to the Czech Republic, I felt it was where I needed to be. Though I had no clue what wait waited for me there, I knew Prague would be drastically different from my life in Asheville, North Carolina. At the time, the change of location was exactly what was needed.
I felt pressure boarding the Czech Airlines flight. Moving to a new country is inherently much more drastic than say, backpacking for a summer. While I knew I would feel like a traveller for the first months in my new foreign home, in a strange way I was deeply worried that I wouldn't not be able to hack expat life. If I turned back, I wasn't coming home from a trip or a grand adventure. If I returned "home," I would be a failure. As my plane took off for the trans-Atlantic flight, I decided that, no matter what, I would not be beaten by my new environment or my own fears (I admit that I have way too much pride that has caused more harm than good throughout the years).
Over the next months in Prague, I learned the tricks of the trade needed to survive as a young expat. I learned how to pinch pennies (even more than I did in university). I learned how to quickly assemble a group of friends (No man is an island). I learned how to spot cons and how to minimize my footprint as a foreigner. I learned that it is okay to be lonely. It is okay to ask for help. I learned that heartbreak and isolation compliment each other perfectly.
It was also in Prague that I first learned that a camera can teach you how to craft a unique vision of the world. Wandering around the cobblestoned alleyways and twisting around the gothic spires, I learned to see the minutia of the world and became keenly aware of everyday scenes that usually go unnoticed. Having solitude, and therefore time, I was able to actively SEE (something I had really never done before). That newly found "sight" was, oddly enough, directly related to a viewfinder and a couple hundred rolls of black and white film.
Almost a decade later, I boarded a train in Salzburg and crossed the Moravian highlands for Prague. The minute I stepped out of Staromestska station, I was twenty two again. The spires and the stone-lined alleys hadn't changed a bit. Yet, this time, I wasn't wandering around the Czech capital with a analog camera and pockets full of Ilford monochrome film.
For this encounter with the glorious European city I had my wife, some good friends and a Canon EOS 6d. I was no longer worried about failure or learning how to become an expat. I simply focused on having a great time in one of the world's most beautiful cities.
Who Is Andrew Faulk?
With over a decade of experience in living and working in Asia, Tokyo photographer Andrew Faulk specializes in portrait, editorial, event, and commercial photography assignments. He works with individuals, families, publications, and corporations to create timeless images under any deadline. His work is frequently featured in a variety of international travel and lifestyle publications. He is a husband, father, and lover of fried food. Get in touch with Andy today to discuss your photography needs in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond.