I recently returned from a two-year stay in Japan. It’s the longest I’ve ever been outside of the U.S., so I was expecting the reverse culture shock to be pretty severe. But as it turned out, it wasn’t that bad. I’ve lived abroad on four separate occasions now, so I guess I’ve gotten used to the novelty of returning home.
That said, there were a couple small things that surprised me:
1) The large drinks in the U.S. are HUGE. A Japanese “large” soda is about the size of a US small or medium, only with no free refills. Japanese people just don’t drink that much; I usually would’ve finished my drink by the time my Japanese friends had taken a sip. I always thought the Japanese drink portions were too small, but I got used to them over the past two years. So when I ordered my first large soda at O’Hare Airport, I couldn’t believe how big it was. I couldn’t even finish it.
2) The roads in the U.S. seem obscenely wide after two years in Japan. A typical American suburban street is as wide as a four-lane highway. And two of those four lanes are just for parking. Again, this isn’t downtown, this is in the suburbs, where there’s virtually no traffic and everyone has a driveway. I guess I’m not arguing for narrower roads or anything, I’m just saying it sort of surprised me…