Now I'll start with the first things I noticed upon leaving the plane.
We were all a wreck, stressed and some of us on the verge of tears because of the emotional stress and missing Japan already and overthinking it all, but we were still happy to see our families waiting for us and to tell them all about the last few days and show them the things we'd brought back. Or was that just me that wanted to do that? Well, it was fairly quiet in the airport, but I was surprised by the bathrooms. Japanese bathrooms are in general cleaner, I think, or at least look like people try to keep it clean. I'd forgotten that here, it's normal to see toilet paper strewn over the floor, the stall doors to be dented and rather dirty-looking, and all the toilets are the same--no buttons on the side, not even a flush handle thing that has the characters for big and small on it. Unfortunately, I think the public here definitely have the tendency to not keep things as clean as they could.
Then I found it weird to hear English everywhere and to be able to understand everything perfectly. Actually, announcements and ads in Japanese sound so much softer and less energetic or pushy than they do here. Anyway, thankfully I wasn't driving home, because even now I tend to get this feeling of being on the wrong side of the road. If we're driving straight, I can do that, but once we turn a corner at a stoplight, or even go around a corner, I become confused and have to really think about which side I'm supposed to be on.
Then we stopped a couple times for bathroom breaks or for drinks and things. I still keep hearing Japanese if I don't quite hear someone, like my brain automatically assumes it's Japanese. I keep resisting bowing to everyone. The cashiers actually talk to you, as in make conversation. Sometimes they did in Japan, but it's much more frequent here, which I kind of like. But there are also those people who can be rude or cold, whereas in Japan all workers have to smile and be nice and helpful and seem pleasant and gentle, and I keep expecting to hear いらっしゃいませ！when I go into a store.
I actually forgot we have dollar bills. The smallest bill in Japan is equivalent to $10 here, and then a $50 and $100. Those are the only bills I've seen. Japan has a $5, $1, $.50, $.10, and $.05 coins. In fact, I keep "forgetting" to switch my money. Really, I think I'm just having issues letting go of it all and accepting that I'm back in the States for the time being. There are things I missed here, that I do like, but because I'm still pining over my time there and am readjusting, it may sometimes sound like I prefer Japan or am saying it's better there, which is not what I'm trying to do at all. There are good things and bad things about any place you go, but what I'm writing here are merely my observations.
Anyway. About money, I noticed that we crinkle dollar bills here all the time, and it's rare to see a really nice one, but I've rarely seen one all bent and crinkled in all my time in Japan. I think it's a part of their culture, of keeping face and form and looking good when out in public, and blending in with everyone. Though I can see the good point to that, but it is nice over here that I don't have to worry about looking nice every time I go out. Well, though I admit it was nice to have an excuse to dress up or look nicer all the time for once, so I'm continuing to dress like I did in Japan (instead of just jeans and a T-shirt, I would wear dresses and skirts a few times a week). I had a moment the other day (and it doesn't help being in the area I'm in) where I realized out of the hundreds of people there, I was one of maybe 2-3 people wearing something other than jeans and a shirt. I took a moment to look around and...jeans. Jeans everywhere. Often baggy ones, too, not brightly colored or styled jeans, either. Just plane old jeans and shirts. There's nothing wrong with that, but it was just a shock to me.
I think I'm also used to being stared at now, though I would still notice it, so if someone even looks in my direction I have a tendency to assume they're looking at me. But now I look just like everyone else here, so if they're staring at me, it's not for the same reasons.
Things are louder here. Well, I guess that would be the people. So I'm readjusting to that. I also apparently became accustomed to everything being nice and close together, instead of being able to drive for miles without seeing more than one house. Or no houses at all.
I really miss the challenge of everything being in Japanese. I liked it. And I was learning a lot. Now I'm sitting at home with no motivation to do anything and trying to make myself get things done, where that was no problem over there. Well, but I think that's normal, since home is generally where I'm allowed to finally relax. Not that I'm doing much of that, since I keep thinking about things too much. As usual. Although, I think I've forgotten how I'm supposed to act around family. I've definitely become more blunt, and I'm not as shy or quiet as I was even a year ago. My Japanese has definitely improved, and even my host parents had commented to each other about it at the closing ceremony, after I hadn't seen them in a few months.
I feel like I've forgotten something, but if I have, I'll edit this post later. For now, I'll sign off.