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ARTICLE 5: WELCOME HOME?

Author:   Tiffany Wertheimer   |   Metro Daily

http://metropolis.co.jp/features/the-last-word/welcome-home/

 

Tiffany who returned to Australia and now can’t find decent tempura anywhere.  A former Tokyoite looks back…

 

WELCOME HOME?

I loved living in Japan.

Not always, I’ll be honest.

Sometimes I wanted to scream, often I cried, but I never regretted leaving my comfy job as a TV reporter in Australia to move to Tokyo and teach English.

My decision to move back to Australia wasn’t an easy one, but I stood by that decision and still do. But what I wasn’t expecting was the struggle to adjust to life back home.While I’d been on this amazing adventure and grown immensely from my experiences—everything at home was exactly the same. The only thing that had changed was me.

I found myself apologising for starting every sentence with “When I was in Tokyo,” and comparing everything to Japan. The honeymoon period ended on the ride back from the airport, when I was quizzed on where I’d work and live—I hadn’t even been back an hour.

Relief came in knowing I wasn’t alone, and many of my well-travelled friends had experienced the same feelings.

When my old friend Rob and his fiancé moved back from Kyoto after living there for two years, they were both shocked at how difficult it was.

“We had created a life there, so when it came time to return to Perth, it was actually much harder than we anticipated—and quite surreal,” he told me. “The first night we were back in our old house, I was lying in bed and Japan felt like a dream—a blink and it was gone.”

A family friend Tony Africano is a psychotherapist and professional counsellor, and assured me feeling displaced and even angry after returning home is normal.

“A lot of people want to feel special because they’ve been away and had amazing experiences,” he said. “They want to talk about it, share their stories and boast about it. But very few others want to hear about it, because it’s not special to them—they weren’t there.”

For this reason, Tony recommended I spend time with like-minded people who have also lived away from home and can empathize with how I’m feeling.

My friend Bernadette spent six months driving around Australia—a free spirit who could stay as long as she wanted in one place, or simply drive straight through.

But coming home was hard.

“Once the initial glow had worn off, I realized I had to start again in terms of finding a job, somewhere to live and reconnecting with all of my friends.

“Six months after returning, things are mostly back to normal, whatever that means.”

For months after I’d returned home, I couldn’t bring myself to look at photos from Japan, but Tony said it’s important not to throw away your memories and experiences.

“Appreciate how valuable the time away was, and make sure you take time to go through your photos and videos,” he said. “Use the skills, knowledge, experience and confidence you gained during that time away to enhance your future back at home.

“The truth is you may struggle, but this is natural and normal, and while it may not be easy, if you understand this, it will help you,” he concluded.
Arguably one of the most profound things living abroad or a big trip can do for you is give you the confidence and motivation to achieve what ever you want.
I often think, “If I could deal with Shinjuku station during peak hour with two suitcases in summer, I can do this!”

Bernadette proudly said, “I still get the urge to get in the car and drive into the outback, the only difference is now I know I can do it.”
And that’s the difference between regretting your decision to return, and using your experiences for the better.

If you’re returning to your home country, be prepared for the reverse culture shock and accept those feelings, whether they’re anger, regret, frustration or boredom—because they’re totally natural.

Christi Rochin

And boast. Boast to every single person you meet that you’ve done something a lot of people wouldn’t have the courage to do.

But the weirdest thing about moving home is three months on I still think I’m feeling the rumblings of an earthquake.

You can take the girl out of Tokyo…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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