In November, I visited back home for the first time in nearly three years. It was a short two week trip. I visited very few friends and spent the rest of my time either working remotely or spending time with family. It was so incredibly good to see the family. The usual passage of time things that slip by you when you stop looking: the niece and nephews getting bigger. But had a few internal struggles during the trip.

A picture from Okutama in the western corner of Tokyo. It's a mountainous area that doesn't feel anything like the typical description of Tokyo.
A picture from Okutama in the western corner of Tokyo. It's a mountainous area that doesn't feel anything like the typical description of Tokyo.

To my knowledge, I still haven’t gotten covid yet. I was more on alert for it than any of my family/friends I interacted with during the trip1. After not having Thanksgiving for three years, I didn’t want to risk losing my ability to taste. And after the holiday, I didn’t want to bring it back to my girlfriend either. Because of this, I rejected places to eat and going out for various activities. I mentioned I visited very few friends. They were likely the only ones who even knew I was back home. It primarily was a to-visit-family trip, and visiting more friends was really pushing what I felt I would’ve been capable of mentally and socially. I definitely am not adjusted to being out and about in the same way my family is back home. Japan still masks up to this day and I don’t think I got used to the near complete lack of it in the US. Having this as an excuse gave me breathing room in a international-two-week-trip home which can easily get filled up with activities and friends/family time. I had a day or two where I didn’t have anything going on. It was nice. Don’t forget to have downtime when you’re traveling. At the end of it all, I did manage to get back to Japan without getting sick.

When I was living back in the States, a friend said I have the “stomach of a bird” as I usually eat pretty small amounts. My best friends dad – who has known me almost my entire life – would make comments on me eating anything like: “Whoa, I don’t know if I’ve seen you eat so much before!” Moving to Japan where the portion sizes are much closer to my speed was a relief. Of course, you can find big portions of food here, but in general portions are smaller (or you order more food). I think the discrepancy between how much I tend to eat and Texas portions was enough to get regularly noticed. To my rescue, S tends to eat around the same amount of food as I do. This helped me feel like I’m not insane with how much I eat. But this trip reminded of that discrepancy again.

I manage to escape sports being shoved in my face in Japan compared to the US. Though this trip was during Thanksgiving and World Cup so that put a lot on overdrive.

I’m wondering if these things are what people would consider reverse culture shock? Or it’s a “Jamie developed weird opinions while living in his apartment during a pandemic in a foreign country.”

I originally didn’t plan on writing anything for the new year, but S and I talked about it a little bit today so it’s on the mind. I have a few goals for the year:

Thanks for everyone who has come by this year to read my various ramblings2.


  1. A few were very conscious of my concerns and were super accommodating. I am incredibly thankful to have such friends/family considering how things have been in the US. ↩︎

  2. Especially you. :) ↩︎