Back to Reality

After living the dream through five countries and 165 days abroad, I headed back to the US on Tuesday, May 16. Monday evening was spent with the parents and I reflecting on our journey. While we were in the same cities, our experiences were drastically different. This was due to a combination of how we spent our days and our different interests. For five days a week, I had the kids and integrated them into the children’s culture so I got more of a local feel for things. Whereas the parents spent most of their five days behind a computer in a co-working space and interacting with foreigners. My days off were spent doing adventuresome things and enjoying the night life whereas their interests lie in being foodies. Our motivations for taking this trip were also drastically different. They were tired of trying to “keep up with the Joneses” and being materialistic so they wanted a full break from American society. I, on the other hand, was motivated by an overwhelming desire to travel the world.

Now that I’ve been back for a week, I’ve noticed some things are coming back easily while others are taking a bit more time.

Things that came back easily:

  • driving on the left hand side
  • turning right on red
  • using toilet paper instead of a sprayer
  • drinking tap water and not bottled water
  • American driving laws
  • cooking
  • planning out my summer schedule to maximize my time with family and friends

Things I’m still working on:

  • hitting my turn signal instead of the wipers
  • saying thank you, hello, and goodbye in a language other than English
  • getting my sleep schedule on local time
  • using my phone to call people instead of Skype or Facebook Messenger
  • finding food that I like. My taste buds have changed drastically. I now enjoy spicy foods and foods that have an abundance of flavor. So long bland taste buds.
  • wearing more than the four sets of clothes. Why do I have 60+ t-shirts?!

And now… for the moment you’ve all been waiting for… What are the plans now that I’m back in the US? I will spend my summer back in Denver, living with friends, and nannying for this same family. We will now be on more of a set schedule and I will have weekends off. Since graduating college, I’ve always worked summer weekends and never had the same two days off from my friends. The possibilities are endless! I plan to spend my weekends with lots of hiking and camping in the mountains. I will be done nannying mid-August, spend my last days in Denver with my brother Adam at a Sam Hunt Red Rocks concert, and then head back to Iowa. I’ll take a few weeks to downsize and get things organized. Once that is complete, I will then head out and solo travel the world for an undetermined amount of time! While I will take the summer off from blogging, I will start it back up when my world travels commence.

Per usual, after departing a country, I will leave you with this:

Things I learned in Japan

          Toilet experiences are great here! Heated toilet seat, warm water coming out of the sprayer, option for loud music to play so you can have some privacy

          Tokyo is expensive!

          The fashion here is…. Interesting….

          The proper way to eat ramen is to slurp your noodles so they slide right down your throat. I, however, prefer to chew mine.

          When riding escalators, stand on the left side and walk/pass on the right side

          Smoking is not allowed on the streets, but is allowed in restaurants

          Remove shoes before going inside houses. Some restaurants require this before entering their facility and even some dressing rooms require this before you try their clothes on.

          Cabs have automated back doors which the driver controls

          You can use your commuter train card to pay at grocery stores, convenience stores, and even some taxis

          Yellow cabs cost the same as black cabs, yet drivers must earn the right to drive a black cab

          Parks and playgrounds are dirt-based

          There are 924 train stations in Tokyo. The have got this public transportation system figured out!

          Man purses are EVERYWHERE

          For how technologically advanced Tokyo is, I’m surprised credit cards are only accepted about 40% of the time.

          Japanese read their books backwards from us. The spine of the book is on the right for them. So do they read right to left then?

          Japanese value cleanliness. I never saw a single piece of trash on the streets. This was even more surprising because trash cans were few and far between. I’ve concluded that everyone just packs their trash and disposes of it when they get home. This would also explain why the reason for man purses. They need to have somewhere to store their trash.

          I never ordered from a waitress at a restaurant. It’s been a full two weeks and all my orders have either been submitted through a machine/iPad or directly to the cook/chef.

          People walk so slow here and everyone is on their phones! We have signs for texting and driving. They have signs for texting and walking.

Texting and Walking Sign


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