Substitute Tokyo for Texas and you’ll know how we feel getting back together as a group and thinking about our time in Japan.
We had the first of our two spring IIM classes on Saturday. As we gathered in Hamilton 100 as a group for the first time since before our flight to Tokyo, we couldn’t help but reminisce and think back to our time in Tokyo. We miss our host families, the schools we visited, and just … life in Japan.
We’re putting together our IIM Symposium presentation for later this spring by thinking about how to best communicate the incredible nature of our trip to Tokyo and Karuizawa to classmates, faculty, the Board of Trustees, parents, and other community members. We probably won’t sing Sandy’s tune, but we’ll pour just as much emotion into the experience, that’s for sure.
Here’s Principal Hajime Uzaki with Ms. Doemland and Merch from our afternoon at Joshi Gakuin. We loved our visit to Joshi so much and look forward to our relationship with them in the future!
We’ve been in touch with our hosts in Japan in the month since our return, but nothing is quite like being there in the same place. We look forward to continuing the connections in all different ways, personally and institutionally, moving forward. And maybe getting that sense of home back somehow…
I have been in touch with my host sister. It’s a little hard because of time difference but I have indeed talked to her and my classroom friends a lot. The hardest things about coming back, I think, is everything for me. I miss my family in Japan and the food. I miss their way of living and the manners, too. I miss the community and the way they were so welcoming to us. I felt very important and special there which is one of the things I miss the most. Feeling special. I have taken some of their manners routines like the bowing – I can’t really stop bowing. I also learned to listen more and be more open to differences. When thinking about the IIM experience, the words are all positive – amazing, fun, great, impressive and all the possible positive words that exist come to my mind.
It’s now been one week since our return from Japan and to be completely honest I wish I was still there! This past week on multiple occasions I’ve missed my host family and the routine I had created with them multiple times. While I’m happy to be home and with my own family, there is something to be said about a culture so kind, generous, and thoughtful.
I miss waking up in the morning and being greeted by my house mother who, despite knowing very little English, always had a smile and a “good morning” to offer. I miss my host dog barking and trying to scurry out of the apartment as we left for school. I don’t miss the crowded bus but I do miss the heated train seats and the sight of the same people every day as we walked to school. I miss the smell of the alleyway we passed on our way home every day and I hope that one day I’ll return to Japan even if just to try the source of that scent.
My host sister and I talk less and less each day, her busy with her studies and I with my own, but we’ve exchanged pictures of our family and pets and I’m confident that when the time comes we will reconnect easily. Living with her for two weeks made me realize to always put your best foot forward because then others will do the same and to remember that even though it’s easy to dwell on the negative, if you try to stay positive those aspects will outshine the rest. I feel mentally rested and inspired I feel that I’ve had experience that reconnected me with the things that I love and the experiences that I enjoy most.
The trip reminded me of who I am because in a place so new and different I had the chance to think about myself again. So many words could be used to describe my InterMission experience, but every time someone asks me, “How was Japan?,” the first word that comes to mind is “Amazing.”
In the week I have been home from Japan, I have thought a lot about our trip.
I have not directly spoken to my host sister but we follow each other on social media and have been liking each others posts. My family and I are planning on sending them thank you letters in the mail very soon. In addition to seeing my host sisters posts, I’ve been seeing her friends posts which has been nice to stay in touch. On Friday night, another Porter’s girl and I were using Instagram live and one of the students from ISAK joined and was sending us messages. We both thought it was crazy how we made lasting friendships in only a few hours and are staying in touch on opposite sides of the world. I hope I can keep these relationships with everyone I met for a very long time.
The hardest part about returning from Tokyo has been readjusting. I’m experiencing a lot of the things I had to adjust when we arrived in Tokyo including different food, time zone, way people communicate, culture, and ultimately the way the people around me live. In someways, I feel a bit foreign in my hometown, but I’m pretty sure I am on the other side of readjusting. The thing I miss most about being in Tokyo is simply having everything be new. While at times it was exhausting and I wanted the things I’m used to, the little things around you become fascinating when they’re new. I experienced a new language, culture, city, scenery, people, food, customs, and so much more. One day, I hope I can return Japan and while the experiences won’t be brand new, I’m sure they will be just as interesting.
Having this international experience has made me more grateful for the life I have. Being away from things for two weeks made me realize how important they are to me. I have been trying to be show more appreciation for these things and people since being home. I have also been waking up earlier since returning home. In Japan, I woke up much earlier than I typically would because it was a long to commute to school. Now, I wake up earlier because in Japan I realized I like being up earlier in the day. In all honestly, I haven’t realized everything I have been doing differently since being home. As I continue to reflect in the next days, weeks, months, and ultimately years to come, I expect to realize more of these changes.
I’m extremely grateful for this experience and how it has made me a better person.
The hardest thing is adjusting back to the time schedule. I’ve been having such a hard time sleeping. I miss all of the really cute girls at Kichijo who were so excited to see and talk to us every day. I also miss just hanging out with all my friends in Tokyo. There was something really special in being together half way across the world. It was sort of like we were all able to live in the moment and bond with one another. I think the fact that we weren’t constantly on our phones the whole time was really special as well. We were able to form really meaningful relationships.
I have been texting one of the host sisters on Facebook about the bio experiment we did there. I also talk about how much I miss Japan and we talk about all the fun activities we did like karaoke and all the food we tried.