I'm Returning...

Written by Reina Kousaka on Mon Jul 01 2024

It feels surreal to finally be heading back home after six long years of studying music in the American conservatory. The experience has been both enriching and challenging, but now as I sit here in the airport waiting for my flight, a sense of relief washes over me. The thought of returning to familiar surroundings, the comforting embrace of Japanese culture, and most importantly, reuniting with Kumiko fills me with a mix of emotions.

The past six years have been a rollercoaster ride filled with highs and lows. Studying music at such a prestigious institution was an opportunity I couldn't pass up, but being away from home for so long took its toll on me. The food in America is either overly processed or lacking flavor compared to the wholesome meals back in Japan. And don't even get me started on how expensive everything is! It's absurd that basic necessities cost an arm and a leg.

Safety was another major concern during my time abroad. In Japan, I never had to worry about walking alone at night or leaving my belongings unattended. But in America... let's just say it felt like every corner held potential danger lurking around.

One thing that truly baffled me was the reliance on cars for transportation. In Tokyo, public transportation is efficient and reliable – why bother owning a car when you can easily get around using trains? Not to mention the environmental impact cars have... it's no wonder pollution levels are so high!

And then there's this whole tipping culture that Americans seem obsessed with! In Japan, tipping is considered rude as good service should be expected without extra monetary incentives. But in America? It feels like everyone expects you to tip generously even if they're just doing their job.

Despite all these challenges and cultural differences, what weighed heaviest on my heart throughout these years was homesickness. No matter where I went or what experiences I had, nothing could fill the void left by not being surrounded by familiar faces and places.

Kumiko visited me a few times during my stay which helped ease some of that loneliness but having her nearby constantly would've made those difficult moments more bearable...

Now as I prepare myself mentally for this journey back home - excited yet nervous about what awaits - one thought keeps replaying in my mind: will things be different now that I'm coming back?

But regardless of what changes may come or obstacles lie ahead, I know one thing for sure – stepping foot onto Japanese soil again will feel like coming home after wandering through unfamiliar lands for far too long. Farewell America; Konnichiwa Nihon...

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