I’ve not yet been back a full week but already, the comparisons to my former life are coming hard and fast.
“Wow. In Japan, there’s no tipping and the portion sizes are SO much smaller.”
“It’s so much more humid in Japan! It’s still hot here, but I find I’m not sweating as much.”
“Yay, American toothpaste! A lot of Japanese toothpastes don’t have fluoride.”
At the moment, my family and friends are dealing well with me constantly linking everything I come across back to Japan. However I know that the responses will soon turn from expressions of interest to eye rolls. “Yes, Ian. You’ve told us about how they eat horse meat in Japan.”
“But but…” I’ll say, desperate to enlighten them about an aspect of Japan that they didn’t previously know. “Did you know that when it comes to grapes, a lot of Japanese people-“
“-don’t eat the skins? Yes, you’ve told me that as well.”
This is sure to be disheartening, but I think it’s just part of the decompression process of living as an expat. I’m now back in a very familiar environment that is now very different. However at the same time, I’m continuing to draw on my experiences from a very different environment that grew to be very familiar.
If that makes sense?
At this point in my re-entry phase, I still can’t stop comparing everything to my life in Japan. I feel like I’m Phoebe from the Magic School Bus (nostalgia trip, anyone?)
In the Magic School Bus, Phoebe is quotable as saying ‘At my old school…’ followed up by some incredibly obvious statement i.e. ‘At my old school…we never rode on bees’. And, much like my family and friends, the class just collectively rolls their eyes at her and nod.
Yes, Phoebe. We know that your life before coming to this racially diverse class of characters was different. No need to keep saying it.
However, just like this unfortunately-clothed third grader, I’ll need to keep this in mind as I continue to adjust to Texas.