After Expat Life & The “Oh Yeahs”

After two years of expat life in Tokyo, being back in San Francisco is a little weird. People both here and in Japan ask me:

What do you miss? What’s different?

Reverse culture shock is intense and it’s difficult to explain. It’s like going back to your old high school after 20 years… but it’s your entire life. It’s everything. Constant “oh yeahs.”

The main standouts seem to be the little things… Everyone is taller here. Glasses and plates are bigger. Food portions are bigger. People are louder and strangers talk to you for no reason. Case in point: I was walking down the street near Lake Merritt and a woman walked up to me and said, out of the blue, “Wow it smells like barbecue sauce here!” WHAT. WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME THIS. Most of the time I feel simultaneously at home and slightly confused.

And I’ve changed. I’m still bowing to people I don’t know and I’m pretty sure I over-apologize. Overall people here just seem more “in your face” than I remember… I need to buck up a little.

It’s still too soon to tell what I miss about Tokyo but straight away I can tell you I just miss my daily routine because it was so familiar. The lady I bought my chirashi bowls from. My conbini. My kids from my Thursday afternoon English classes.

I feel pretty fortunate to be home and working for a Japanese company. My Japanese co-workers have been so kind, offering to help me keep up my fragile language skills. Strangely enough I’m studying more now in America than I did in Japan, and I’m realizing I know more than I realized.

But Oakland is amazing. I think outside of the Bay Area it gets a bad rap. Which is a pity because there are some serious gems here for eating, shopping, and just hanging out.


This is the park area next to Lake Merrit. About five minutes from my apartment.


And I love easy access to reaaaaallly good coffee. (Tutorial courtesy of Bicycle Coffee, Oakland.)


One thing I’m really enjoying about Bay Area life is the app and subscription culture– it’s kind of crazy how much you can accomplish on your phone here! Need a ride? There’s an app for that. Want groceries delivered? App. My favorite subscription right now is Stitch Fix. My friend Jess turned me onto it when I was complaining about my tiny wardrobe.

Stitch Fix is simple:

Fill out a style profile, the more detailed, the better. They ask questions about what you need, what you want to try, how you like clothes to fit you… it’s super specific. They even let you link Pintrest boards to give the stylists clear ideas on what you want to try.

The stylist picks out five things for you to try and sends them to you.

The styling fee is $20.00 but you get that back if you buy something. If you buy all five you get 25% off.

I bought 3 out of 5 of my first fix…

This dress is perfect for work and super easy to wear.


And I love a lace top that doesn’t scream SISTER WIFE.


In general, I kind of suck at buying accessories. I have really good jewelry that lives on me always, and that’s usually about it. I would have never bought this chevron necklace for myself but I think I like it.


I’m set up now to get a Fix every month. We’ll see how it goes. For now I’m enjoying letting other people shop for me. Plus it’s always fun to have something to look forward to, isn’t it?

Right now Tokyo feels a lot more familiar than Oakland and SF…  so I’m going to be doing a lot of exploring in my new old hometowns. And I can read the maps here! Oh yeah. 🙂



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...