Having been in Japan for more than five months now, I've begun to reflect over things that I've gotten used to in my life here. Of course you can only get as comfortable and grow as customed after five months, it's not like I'm completely changed and I haven't gotten fully used to everything, but I do feel like some things will be a bit hard to change when it is time to leave... I sat and wrote down some things before and I don't know, I thought I would blog about them! Because, you know, why not.
1. Smells. Japan obviously has different smells (just like every country does) and I remember noticing them all and just thinking a lot about them when I first came here, but now I hardly notice them. I had this moment a few weeks ago when I was walking down the stairs in the house and suddenly was hit by this smell that brought me right back to the first days in Kumamoto, and I got sooo nostalgic because I hadn't noticed it for such a long time!
2. School uniforms! Wearing a school uniform, always being around people who are wearing them... It's a bit embarrassing to admit but in the beginning I had a hard time telling students from each other because of the school uniforms, I'm so used to students looking really individual with their own styles and what not, and now suddenly there were only white shirts and blue skirts and black pants as far as the eye could see... But it's fine now, my only problem now is remembering names of students I meet.....
3. An excessive amount of rules and just general strictness in school. Like seriously, if I were to rank the top strictest places ever it would probably look something like: 1. The military 2. Restaurant kitchens (at least I hav the impression that they are super strict) 3. Japanese high schools. NO JOKE. Everything from how to dress (and how NOT to dress) to how to say hello to the teachers in the corridors (what to say and how loud you should say it etc etc) and how to properly stand in a line is strictly regulated, and I think it's fare to say that I had a rather hard time adjusting to all of this in the beginning. I haven't got used to everything a hundred percent but I have learned to live with it and will most likely get daily panic attacks when being back in the Swedish MESSY school. (I hope I'm not offending Sweden now, and if I am I'm sorry NOT SORRY)
4. Seaweed. Lol. Before I came here I was, to say the least, not too fond if seaweed. I don't know, the taste of it just didn't speak to me... But by eating it more or less every day here I quickly became used to it and eventually came to really like it as well! And now I worry that I won't find any good seaweed in Sweden.... Fingers crossed, fingers crossed!!
5. Airplanes. Airplanes everywhere. I live like 15 minutes from an airport and I see at least 3-5 airplanes CLOSELY every day. I found it a bit strange in the beginning since it never happens in Helsingborg, but now I kinda like the sound and it does feel like home.
6. Coming home late on week days! The thought of ending school at like two or three and then going straight home feels very, very distant.... Before I joined my club I would get home 16:45 at earliest and more often that not after five, and now with club never earlier than seven. But to be honest I like it that way, spending time with my friends in one of the best things here (of course) so even if I'm exhausted when I get home from school I get to spend almost 11 hours with people I love daily and I will definitly be happy about that when looking back on my exchange!
7. Being a foreigner. Yeah. It still doesn't feel comfortable all the time (which COULD be because of the amount of attention you get for being here and how you are kinda alienated in some situations), but I do have gotten used to constantly being the different (and sometimes weird) one at the party, ya know. I will definitly be facing some culture shocks, getting back to Sweden and completely blending in again.
8. ENGLISH!!! English English English. Okay, it's not like English was completely foreign to me before and like everyone else (I'm talking about Swedes here) I've been fluent since quite a young age, BUT. Communication. Just talking. I can recall sitting in the English class in Sweden and having some kind of discussion, and after a while of speaking English feeling my throat getting dry and starting to stumble on my words, and that feels so, SO far away! I clearly remember the first days here in Japan that I spent in Tokyo with the other exchange students where I talked more English than ever before, and it only took those four days for me to feel 120% comfortable with speaking it (it was quite a lot of fun, me and the Swedish guys repeatedly switched to English by mistake when talking and eventually we kinda gave up Swedish). And since I've had Sam (the Aussie exchanger, who by the way is leaving Japan today) and an American language teacher in school to regularly talk with English now comes more natural than Swedish! It might worsen now that Sam is leaving though... I will go hardcore Japanese from now on. 頑張ります！
With Sam and my oldest host sister leaving (she went off to her own exchange student adventures on New Zealand!!) I feel like I've officially entered the second part of my exchange. I'm really excited for it, I am constantly noticing my Japanese improving little by little and I still have lots of things to experience for the first time and also a lot of things I want to do again! I'm gonna try to keep busy and make sure to spend as much time as possible with my friends as well as meeting lots of new people and getting to know them. January wasn't my brightest month but I feel like I've gained new energy and I'm really thrilled for what's coming up next!! Japan, you better watch out, I'm on the mooooooooooooove