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.