Is it your dream to teach English in Japan?
After living in Japan (or probably any other country) for a while, when you go back to where you’re from, it’s a strange experience.
This week I got back from a couple weeks in the US, visiting family and friends. This was my first time to go back with a residence card I was keeping valid – with intentions to return to Japan. It wasn’t super different from when I moved back to the states, a little over four years ago. I was sort of baffled by how huge cups (and most things) were, how wide streets were, and how hearing multiple languages all around me was not anything to get excited about.
I also remembered, that time at least, thinking about how I was speaking. Slowly, clearly, without slang and idioms; unconsciously mixing in the random Japanese word. This time I didn’t really speak faster with my close friends and family, I didn’t really accidentally speak Japanese to Americans, but I did notice slightly picking up accents depending on where in the country we were. I also noticed walking on the left side, looking the wrong way while crossing the street, and feeling anxiety free while using public transportation in three different cities.
About a year and a half ago, I moved to Japan again. My Japanese husband and I got married and we got a spouse visa for me to live here. This was one small thing that made a difference this time.
I checked on my way out of the country – about making sure I could get back into Japan using my spouse visa and not the usual 90 day visa waiver tourists from the US arrive under. I filled out a simple form upon leaving the country and was given a similar form for re-entry. It was only a few lines – name, where I’d stay in the US, flight number, easy stuff like that.
When we were checking in to return to Japan, I was asked if I had a return flight. This is the usual procedure for airline staff to ensure US citizens aren’t leaving the country to illegally stay in other countries without proper documentation – apparently the airline can get in trouble for allowing people without proper visas to get on the plane. (Not that this stops anyone, flights can be canceled and if you know a return flight number, that’s good enough for them. But be good – don’t overstay visas, you’ll regret it later.) Anyway… I had to pause for a second. Why was I being asked to return to the US? Then, in my early morning daze, I remembered, “I live in Japan. Here’s my residence card.”
The super nice part about my residence status was going through customs in Japan. I instinctively got into the ‘foreigner’ line, which is usually quite a wait. My husband quickly found me a minute later and pointed at the re-entry gate for residents. No lines. I like this.
I feel like Japan is more ‘home’ than the US. At least it’s where we live for now.
What has been your experience about returning to your country after living in Japan as a foreigner?