The re-entry process is never quite smooth when you’ve been away for a while. Here are some observations from our return to America:
- Japanese bathrooms are small: a small tub, a toilet, a sink, and room for you to actually enter the bathroom. I mean, airplane bathrooms are bigger! So, it wasn’t exactly a surprise when I managed to hit my head on the wall of the bathroom on the plane leaving Japan. After all, the plane facilities felt so spacious by comparison that I forgot they weren’t infinite.
- Public transit in Asian cities tends to be quiet – whether by regulation or by cultural norm. This is particularly true on the Tokyo subway, on which even whispering can feel like yelling. So, when we first walked into the San Francisco BART (subway) to the sound of yelling college-age girls, I wanted to cover my ears and tell them to shut up. So charitable, I am. But yeah, Americans are loud by comparison.
- We’ve grown accustomed to being surrounded by people speaking languages that we don’t understand. This has made tuning out external conversations very easy. While at the touristy Tokyo Fish Market <link coming>, B said he couldn’t help eavesdropping on a British couple because the sound of comprehensible language was so jarring. This is even more true in the US, where our ability to tune out others in the office has worsened significantly: B had to put on headphones to avoid his automatic careful attention to the English being spoken near him.
- I keep finding myself standing on the left side of escalators instead of the right, or trying to walk on the left side of the sidewalk. Thanks Japan!
- When you haven’t driven for a while, you find yourself focusing on it more. So, we have yet to turn the radio on while driving, as we adjust back to being behind the wheel.