It's been one year that we've been home after living in Japan. This was our third time to live in Japan, so the reverse culture shock was expected. However, it was the first time we lived in Japan with kids which created a new dimension of reverse culture shock. The girls are now eight and six, but lived in Japan beginning at ages five and three. The youngest didn't remember living in the U.S. when we moved back, although we had visited the States several times during our stay abroad. The oldest remembers everything about living in Japan in vivid detail through (maybe not unfairly) rose colored glasses.
The new challenge: Adjusting to the U.S. when your kids (and you) enjoyed the other lifestyle better.
Don't get us wrong. We love the U.S. We are proud Americans. We particularly love living in the South. We missed our family and friends when me moved abroad. We missed our fireplace, the ease of parking, and Target. The kids are happy to now own a trampoline, something we would never had been able to accomplish in our miniscule yard (unless it was one of those tiny trampolines for exercise, but who wants that?). We missed having a dog (or at least most of us did).
However, we liked walking to stores and restaurants. Walking around aimlessly while experiencing new sites serendipitously (without fear). Having our weekends free for discovery and adventure, rather than the rush from activity to activity between stops at Home Depot.
The children were free to ride their bikes with the local kids to parks without worry. We were outside every day: rain, shine, snow, heat or cold (this was not always pleasant but feels healthier in hindsight). At school, the girls walked to places like parks and went on fun field trips (like sledding). The international and Japanese kids in their classes were more innocent and carefree than kids in the States.
We were 30 minutes from the beach and mountains. The food and drinks were fun. The people we met were warm and giving. Our days could be frustrating but they were always interesting. The zoo, museums, and other fun stuff were free for kids or very cheap. There was a lot of seasonal entertainment from festivals to ice skating for reasonable cost.
We were on an extended vacation where we still worked and went to school. Everyday life could be challenging (luckily my husband was fluent) but never boring. And we met other people similar to us.
We miss living in Japan. And we're trying to get over our homesickness.
And I bet there's quite a bit other people out there who miss it, too. Or maybe you lived in other parts of Asia or Europe. Spent time in Australia or other parts down under. You miss living in South America or Africa? This blog is for you.
What living experience do you miss the most?