I haven’t been keeping in contact with my host family, but I have been keeping in contact with some of the other girls from Kichijo! It’s been really easy to talk to people over snapchat and other social media sites that don’t have as much of a commitment as Line or text. It’s been relatively easy to adjust back to the US, and to school starting again, and I’m already back to my usual school state. The only thing that’s been really hard to get used to again is the food being less healthy and also tasting worse, which is really quite unfortunate. I also miss the home life thing that I had gotten used to in Japan, which has been making me homesick for my home life whenever I’m not at school.
I have unfortunately not been in touch with my host family since we returned. I sent my host sister a message a few days after we got back however I never received a response. The hardest thing has been the jet lag. Luckily I am over it now but it was killer when we first got back. Definitely much worse coming back than going there. I guess the easiest thing is probably just being able to get back into my normal routine and not having to rely on someone else anytime I wanted to do anything. I definitely miss spending time with my host family, they were incredible. I also really miss the food at the school because it was great.
I have definitely been more conscious of my own gratitude as well as the gratitude of others because of the insane amounts of gratitude that I saw in Japan. I have been trying really hard to show people that I care about that I am thankful to have them in my life and that I appreciate everything that they do for me.
Since I got back to the United States I have talked to my host sister a little bit. I kept up to date with my host mom especially on Facebook. I have also stayed in contact with some of the girls I met at the school I was going to in Japan. They have been asking me for photos of Porter’s and also just asking me how I am doing and if I have gotten over my Jet lag.
The hardest thing for me when returning to the United States was adjusting back into my sleep schedule and getting back into school mode. Being so tired this past week, I didn’t feel good starting the 2nd semester. If I must be very honest about what I miss, I really do miss the toilets! The heated seats were always a highlight of everyday! I miss the food a lot as well and just Tokyo in general.
A habit that I had developed in Japan and have continued here is that I take off my shoes usually when I walk into my bedroom and I just take off my shoes more often than usual. I also find myself watching food videos on Facebook of Japanese every night. I miss the food so much. I also find myself telling people when they ask me how the Japan trip was, saying that it was amazing and I can’t even describe why. It couldn’t be put into words.
I’ve talked to my host sister almost every day since we’ve been back in the states. We’ve been exchanging pictures we took during my visit and updating each other on our simple everyday activities. We also had the chance to talk a little bit about the Women’s March and Donald Trump’s presidency. I’ve tried my best to keep up with events happening in Japan and I’ve definitely become much more interested in Japanese history.
Since returning to the states I’ve been sleeping through the night. While in Japan I was often restless during most of the night, so I’ve felt pretty well rested in the past few days. I’ve missed my host’s family so much, though, especially my host mom’s cooking. Around the house, I still try to use some of the Japanese phrases I learned and I’ve tried to incorporate some of the foods I ate in Japan into some of my meals. It’s been tough adjusting back to my normal school schedule. I spent most evenings in Japan watching TV and talking with my host family, so spending the night doing homework is a bit hard in comparison.
Whenever someone asks me about my trip to Japan I usually just answer with: “It was great!” It’s a very vague response but trying to verbalize and explain such an amazing trip to someone is an extremely difficult task.
I have been in touch with my host family since returning back to the states. My mom and I went to a Japanese market and I showed her a few of my favorite things we ate in Japan. My favorite was a mochi ice cream, and we sent my host family a selfie with the ice cream. I also have “faced” my sister and we talked about school and about what we have been doing on the weekends since the visit.
The hardest part about returning to the states is having to go back to school while being on a completely different time zone. Yes, we had a weekend to recover but it took me the weekend to actually realize that I was back in America. LOL! Having school with the time difference was very hard. I really miss the Japanese food and the times I would have with my host family at dinner, now I just have a dining hall meal with my friends.
Going to Japan was an incredible experience. I would not have chosen anywhere else, it was amazing. I am definitely more relaxed than I was prior to the trip. In a way I also believe in myself a little bit more. I have realized my inner strength and now I can tell myself I can do most things that are normally out of my comfort zone because thats what this trip did to me, it pushed me into a new zone.
It has only been a week away from Japan but it feels like a lifetime.
Without seeing my host family every day, I have begun to miss them very much even though we stay in touch. Before I returned I had thought it would be so easy to return to how things were before I left for Japan. I knew I needed to remember what I learned in Japan so I could take something back with me that was more than just souvenirs. I have actively been journaling like I did in Japan: about how much I miss it, about life now, and about what the future looks like.
Right now what I can see is this: I will continue to say sumimasen accidentally even though no one here speaks Japanese. It has just become a habit now. I will continue to keep in touch with the friends I met in Japan because they are truly amazing and interesting people that I already know I can’t live without.
Finally, I will live everyday remembering Japan and the lessons I learned and the people I met because it was an experience I can never stop being thankful for and one I won’t ever be able to forget.
My host sister and I have been in almost constant communication (as constant as it can be with a 14 hour time difference) ever since I returned to the states. We talk about anything and everything. My life and the differences I now notice because I went abroad and her life and how it has been since I left.
It was very easy to return home to my own family and my own space, but it was very strange to be woken up my first day back and not have slippers at the foot of my bed and to not have two little sisters and my host sister waiting for me. I wouldn’t necessarily say anything was hard in my returning, other than the goodbye to my host sister. We had just began feeling very comfortable around each other and I felt like I was a part of the family, only to be pulled away.
It’s very difficult to describe my experience to other people. When asked, I often find myself without words. I will never be able to fully explain how incredible it was because it wasn’t just some ordinary trip. I wasn’t there to be a tourist. I was there to immerse myself in the culture and become a more global and educated person. It’s hard to explain to those who didn’t experience it, but I will forever remember this trip as one of the most amazing things I have ever done.
Having my first international experience so far from home and in such a drastically different culture has left a deep impact on the way I experience day-to-day life.
Although when in Japan I missed my home dearly, my first response to my return, after relief at seeing my family safe and happy, was missing my second home in Tokyo. I emailed my host mother- the family member to whom I became closest- a few days after my return, thanking her again for her kindness and asking how she was. She emailed back to let me know she was well, but busy, and that it would be a few days before she could reply fully. Other than few DMs on Instagram, my contact with the incredible people I met in Japan has been limited.
I think the thing I miss the most- other than the food- is some of the politeness, the thoughtfulness that was so common there. While not always a good thing- we spoke with many Japanese students about how the expectation to place others’ needs over your own can become restrictive and discouraging- the quiet of the trains and public places, the culture of helpfulness, and especially the way everyone I met there truly seemed to enjoy giving and assisting and providing has left an impact on me. I want to embrace the part of me that wants to give more than to receive, that is grateful to others simply because I can be.
Although I have settled back into my usual, American routine, just as I have reorganized my bedroom to show off every map, coin, and purchase from Japan, I want to also reorganize my life to embody the kindness I experienced there.