Saturday, April 05, 2008

Trip-ending thoughts


Having spent the last three weeks in America, and coming back to Japan, I feel that I could adequitely put together a few words to describe Japan, as well as some words that do not describe Japan.

Words to describe Japan:

efficient
courteous
scheduled
cold
humble
quiet
compliant
drab
small
identical
busy

Words not to describe Japan:

welcoming
friendly
kind
considerate

As I walked through the terminal, I felt like I was just back to regular life again. Imagine, thinking a life in Japan to be regular. I had a never-ending list of errands forming in my head, including getting groceries and paying the bills, I just do it all here, in my own, learning kind of way. At the same time, I was looking at advertisements that I couldn't read, hearing conversations that I can't understand, and it kind of feels like I've never been gone.

If I learned one thing about myself from my trip home and back, it is how much I have grown as an individual, and how proud I am for living in a foreign country, far different from my own, with huge language barriers, and thriving. I am bettering myself by learning a new language and a new culture, and am finding the patience to accept my own personal flaws, as well as reflect on my everyday accomplishments whenever possible.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all who spent time with me during the last few weeks. Coming home to America was a well-needed reality check to remind me that, 1. even though I live in the twilight zone, there is an escape, and 2. I am incredibly fortunate to have so many friends and family at home who love and think about me, which is enough to get me through the hard moments. This past three weeks has been so fun... meeting new friends (think Tiff, Carolina, Heidi), forging new relationships (people who will put you up when you miss a flight), seeing old students (thanks for the ice cream, Lauren), sharing familiar traditions with family (yahtzee or peppermint dessert, anyone?)and seeing old friends (there's no one in the world like my bestie).

At the airport today, I was glad to be back in a place where I can line up my luggage and handbag and walk away to buy a ticket, use the restroom, or withdraw cash from the atm without any worry of dishonesty or theft. I appreciate the simple and polite 'excuse me' and the apologetic nod of someone who was accidentally in my way. I know that when I do get groceries later and ride on the train, that both experiences will be quiet and peaceful. I am ready for 'me' time again. And I'm also ready to accept the fact that for at least a week, I will turn the windshield wipers on instead of the turn signal.

On the bus from the airport, I passed my first cherry blossom tree. Cherry blossom season, which Japan is iconic for, began during my absence. But, seeing, for the first time, the white buds playing the part of the backdrop for farmers who are tending the rice fields on this nice afternoon gives me hope of warm weather and spring, following a long, cold, drab winter.

Now, as I prepare to pull into my apartment and go back to my 'normal' life, I have to be very honest. I don't mind being here so much at all.

Konnichiwa, Nihon. Hello, Japan.

1 comment:

Lenora said...

You write very well.