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For those of you who have lived abroad a long time, does it feel strange when you go back home?

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When we went back to LA to visit family, we were accosted by beggars, witnessed people urinating and defecating in the street like animals, saw police draw their weapons on suspects, were woken up by helicopters with search lights, saw mass demonstrations by illegal aliens who wanted their "rights"... I could go on, but you get the point. So in answer to the question "Did it feel strange?" I have to say more frightening than strange.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Not strange at all. TIme stopped back home long ago.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Visiting, not at all. I thoroughly enjoy every minute of it. Now moving home after an extended period abroad--that goes well beyond strange.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

sensei258: When we went back to LA to visit family, we were ....

Only ever been "accosted by beggars", out of that list. Maybe next time the fam could meet you in Solvang.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Of course there are wonderful places in California, and elsewhere in the US. But we were asked about going to our own home, in our case LA, so I merely related our bad experience.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

It feels both strange and familiar at the same time. There are all sorts of moments where the little things I never think of when in Japan remind me of home, but there are also lots of times when I don't remember how I'm supposed to act in a particular situation, or what I'm supposed to do in a particular situation. These are things that I did without thought before coming to Japan, but now I can't remember what to do. Tipping is one thing that really throws me for a loop. For one, I absolutely detest tipping, and two, I can't remember how much I should give in given situations. I want to give as little as possible, since the whole concept is a farce, but I also want to fit in with cultural norms, so I don't I want to be too cheap.

I'd say I feel more like a visitor when I'm back home, than I feel like someone from there. Being in Japan feels more natural to me now.

After a week or so back home however, I start to settle in, and things begin to feel more normal and familiar. If I were to go home for a month or so, I imagine it would mostly feel the same as always again.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

When I go back home to CA, I feel so relaxed. I could be myself. I dont have to hide my tattoos and act extra polite like i do here. No solcial barriers to beware of. I dnt stand out because in southern CA we all look different. Going home doesnt feel strange at all. Arriving bck @ Narita is the strange part.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

@sensei258

When we went back to LA to visit family, we were accosted by beggars, witnessed people urinating and defecating in the street like animals, saw police draw their weapons on suspects, were woken up by helicopters with search lights, saw mass demonstrations by illegal aliens who wanted their "rights"... I could go on, but you get the point. So in answer to the question "Did it feel strange?" I have to say more frightening than strange.

Didn't we recently have a poll on the "best cities" to live in ? I could have sworn I saw "LA" mentioned multiple times... Doesn't sound too "inviting" to me...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Not at all. For one, I don't find it in the least strange that people in shops, restaurants, bars, train stations etc. speak to me like I'm an adult. I find that quite normal.

My hometown isn't Gotham City or Dodge City either. People tend to go to the toilet to relieve themselves.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I think the thing that hit me most when I moved to NZ for 12 months was the price of everything. If you think Japan is expensive try NZ. The wife summed it up well when she said it was like Switzerland, very beautiful and very expensive. And I know Japan sets the bar high in service but it still shocks me when you go to the counter in a shop in NZ or the UK and the teenage clerk snaps at you "Yeah". As in what do you want? Well sorry for bothering you miss.

Other thing is the safety aspect. Can't think of anywhere in Tokyo or Yokohama I feel ill at ease walking after dark. But in other countries you don't walk after dark, you drive. With all doors locked. Some things were to start with a little strange but welcome, particularly that societies can behave themselves by and large without obeying strict written and unwritten rules. If there is no traffic coming I can cross the road even if the light is red. And no one tut-tuts. If I were to put out my rubbish a day early I would not be reprimanded by the caretaker or officious neighbour. And yet, always pleased when the plane touches down at Narita.

8 ( +7 / -0 )

And I know Japan sets the bar high in service but it still shocks me when you go to the counter in a shop in NZ or the UK and the teenage clerk snaps at you "Yeah". As in what do you want?

The nearly exact same thing happened to me last time I was in the US. I said "oh sorry, I was looking for good service, apparently you don't have that here" and left.

Which was my mistake, it took me like 20-30 minutes to find another shop.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

While in Xian towards the end of a month-long trip through HK, the PRC, and Japan, was SHOCKED to see a Dutchman LEAPING out the train station door at night, with RED hair and HUGE nose and TALLER than everyone else ...

then in transfer at Seattle airport on the way back, SHOCKED AGAIN at all the GIANTS wandering the airport ...

... this is what a month in Asia will do to you, if you acclimate quickly. No kidding! True story!

Met the Dutchman later on the train, he was quite nice, told us stories about his friend who'd load up with several duffle bags of trade goods, sell them back home to pay for his trip every time he went over. Don't know if that's feasible now.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I find it pleasant not to have to dumb down every conversation to the level of a three-year-old, both linguistically and intellectually. (It must be hell to be married to someone like that, I'd go mad.)

In restaurants and supermarkets: the portion sizes astound me, and that's in Europe! I can only imagine the goliath US versions.

Men tend to be bigger, and much politer.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

@ Viking - Depends on what part of the LA area you are from. Beverly Hills or Santa Monica may be nice, but not downtown LA.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I find it pleasant not to have to dumb down every conversation to the level of a three-year-old, both linguistically and intellectually. (It must be hell to be married to someone like that, I'd go mad.)

I think it is the Japanese people you are talking to are the ones who have to dumb down to your level assuming you don't understand Japanese linguistically and intellectually. That's what I do when talking to non-Japanese.

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

Oh Tina, you really can't handle someone saying anything bad about Japan or the Japanese, can you.

Unfortunately, your reactions often turn you into that which you are trying to deny exists.

That all said, I think that it's ridiculous that people think they have to dumb every conversation down to that of three year olds. Maybe linguistically - if they cannot speak Japanese well enough to say what they want, they end up having to talk like three year olds. But intellectually? That just depends on the person. There are smart and stupid Japanese people, same as people in other countries.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

I think it is the Japanese people you are talking to are the ones who have to dumb down to your level assuming you don't understand Japanese linguistically and intellectually.

Perhaps you are right, but I wish those people would stop actively seeking me out for conversation, then.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I'd say Tina has every right to be offended.

I'm sure Tessa would have tremendous patience with Japanese visitors to her native country, bemoaning the inability of the locals to speak Nihongo at their own sophisticated level. And if the locals weren't quite up to the mark, the Japanese openly declaring they were stupid--yeah, that'd probably go over really well.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I don't seem to come across the appalling and rude service outside Japan as much as those who seem to find it everywhere. My interaction with bar staff in my hometown usually goes as follows:

Staff: "Yeah/yes mate/love" Me: "Two pints of Guinness, please" Staff: "£6 please" Me: ( paying )"Thanks, take your own" Staff: ( giving my change) "Thanks"

I don't need to be fawned over with well rehearsed false niceties. Neither do I need the deer in headlights look along with childish panic and I could really do without the patrons cracking the timeless "hello!" side splitter which has the men roaring and the women clapping. This obviously doesn't happen everywhere, but neither does crappy service.

Good and bad wherever you go.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Neither do I need the deer in headlights look along with childish panic and I could really do without the patrons cracking the timeless "hello!" side splitter which has the men roaring and the women clapping. This obviously doesn't happen everywhere, but neither does crappy service.

Yep. A student of mine (a well-read, well-educated, well-travelled Japanese lady) told me of the first time she walked into a coffee shop in rural Europe, and how every patron stopped to stare at her. It was a shocking experience for her. I said "welcome to my world!" She got it then, she really got it!

1 ( +7 / -5 )

Abroad, it is nice to say' no bag thanks' without getting a quizzical look or being asked if I am really sure that I don't want a bag(99% of the time I carry my own)It is also a relief not to have my goods laboriously sticky taped and then handed a receipt to prove that I have bought the goods.The last time the store clerk wanted to do this, I refused. He insisted and I told him that I didn't want the goods with tape on and left the shop. That being said, it is nice to shop here if you accept the store's concept of omotenashi........

-7 ( +4 / -10 )

It is also a relief not to have my goods laboriously sticky taped and then handed a receipt to prove that I have bought the goods. The last time the store clerk wanted to do this, I refused. He insisted and I told him that I didn't want the goods with tape on and left the shop.

What a most peculiar reaction to someone doing their job. And you wonder why some Japanese think Gaijin are sometimes strange.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Being from Queens NY, I find things to be pretty much the same but at a faster pace and no holds barred on compliments and complaints. Other than that I as just amazed on how large many people has become.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I think it depends how often you DO visit home, and how immersed you are in things here. If you live in a kind of bubble here, then I'd say no. If you are married to a Japanese spouse, your kids (if any) go to regular schools (not international schools), and you are involved in all sorts of regular Japanese daily life things and don't often return home then I would think some of the things that used to seem so normal might be odd, yeah.

I don't go home much, but I don't particularly find it strange -- I love every minute of it, from hanging out with friends and using normal English everywhere I go (or French even), to having a different nation food next to another different kind of food, and so on, and so on, on one block. Things I think I might dread when going back home I don't find all that bad (I don't mind the tipping since it is for a short time). I can't say I find anything strange at all in the unwelcoming sense, although as there are some things I immediately see and enjoy when going home there are a number of conveniences that Japan has that my home country/town does not that I immediately miss.

tinawatanabe: "I think it is the Japanese people you are talking to are the ones who have to dumb down to your level assuming you don't understand Japanese linguistically and intellectually. That's what I do when talking to non-Japanese."

You get way too defensive, too easily, when someone points out something they have experienced and that you may not like. Are you saying YOU have to always dummy things down to the poster in question but that poster never has to do the same in their own tongue? There are very, very few people I use English with who are non-native speakers who I don't dummy things down with -- it just means their level is not at a native speaking level -- and in the past many have dummied down Japanese for me, or dropped the Keigo or something. In fact, some still do until they realize I can communicate just fine (not always perfectly) at the local level. When I go home or talk on the phone with native English speaking friends I don't have to dummy it down. So what?

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

I've always found that visiting home re-grounds me in a way I can't fully describe. I slip back into the US "me" pretty easily, and I try to hang onto that when I return to Japan. It's this nice reminder of who I am and where I come from and never fails to make me feel complete. Hanging onto that feeling never lasts long though, the daily routines here quickly strip me of the US "me" and I'm back to the Japan "me" in no time.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Havent been back over a decade, but the Pacific has something, well, out of worldliness and still accsessibile these days

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You get way too defensive, too easily, when someone points out something they have experienced and that you may not like.

smithin, Funny you say this because I feel the same for you. (That goes for Strangerland too for what he said about me.) You expand a little too much on what I say. You should only read what you read and don't imagine things.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

I've always found that visiting home re-grounds me in a way I can't fully describe.

I find that as well, although I also get it to some degree just visiting other countries. For me it's as much about getting out of Japan for a period of time, as it is getting to my home country for a period of time.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It doesn't feel 'strange', but it doesn't exactly feel like 'home', either, in the same way that Japan no longer feels like 'abroad'; it's 'home'. Where the heart is, an' all that.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I've been living abroad about 8 years now to include both Japan, England, and the Philippines. when I left my home there was a grocery store two gas stations and a Denny's at the exit off the highway. I went home last April and I don't recognize the place anymore. I always wanted to go back home and feel at home when I went there. That doesn't happen anymore. I feel like my heart where I left it has been bulldozed and paved over to make way for commercial enterprise. It's somewhat disheartening but at the same time, it allows me to embrace the rest of the world as my home rather then just one single place to lay down at. I'm not fluent in Japanese but there's something about wondering the train system in Tokyo, or driving through Shinjuku at night that makes me feel just as at home as I ever did during high school. I lived two hours outside of London but when I did get down there on the tube, and just hung out at Trafalgar Square just watching the people travel, or watch the performers try and earn a quid or two at Victoria Market or down in the park by the Eye, I get that same feeling. That everything is okay and that I do belong and I don't need to feel homesick. Home has done nothing but change since I left, but these places while do change as well it's the big city that never lets up, the cities that embrace me whether I'm from there or not. They welcome me and I feel it. That makes all the difference.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I like to visit, but after being gone so long Im not sure I could ever live there again.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

sensei258, I'm from Orange County. One situation there that always gives me goose pimples is the emphasis on MONEY and SHOWING the MONEY. Funniest story, though, is that, after over 20 years in Japan, my English has evolved to be something non-native speakers can understand; as a result, I am often asked when in California where I'm from. Some people often guess Scotland, perhaps because I'm clearly a native speaker but not from a country with an accent they're familiar with such as Australia or England.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have to remind myself that's it's rude not to say anything when supermarket check-out staff say hello to you.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Jimizo: ... service ... Neither do I need the deer in headlights look along with childish panic

Hahaha, got that same look from the entire staff in a newly opened Popeye's Chicken in Beijing, crowded behind a single register (of three on the counter).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Only ever been "accosted by beggars", out of that list. Maybe next time the fam could meet you in Solvang.

Sorry, I was just excited to see my tiny hometown mentioned :D

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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