Oct 9, 2016

5 Ways to Tell You've Been Here Too Long

When I first moved to Japan, I thought I would be here for 2 to 5 years, however long it took me to get comfortable with the language. Instead I met a guy and had a whole different adventure, and most of the time things still feel light and adventurous, even when they've become mundane. I'm still finding things I can't identify at the grocery store 8 years later and I am still not really comfortable with the language.

That said, there are moments in every long-term expat's life that make one say, "Maybe I have been here too long..."

  1. The pop stars who enticed you here are now selling old-people-products.
    Really Gackt? 7-11 Wine? 

    That's right. Norton Antivirus: Making you Hot like an Ecologist since 2012

  2. You do not recognize the new pop stars, nor find them sexually attractive.

    Not only do I not know who anyone in Jonny's is anymore, I am more interesting in their grasp of grammar than their attractiveness. I see them, with their fresh, young faces and think, "Shouldn't someone be tutoring them in algebra?"

  3. You (sometimes) find the enthusiasm of new expats exhausting or naive.

    I feel like this robot every time I hear the word Karaoke.

  4. After so many goodbyes, you have trouble making new friends and throw yourself into other hobbies instead.

    Yes, I made all those sock monkeys, and the thing in the sock monkeys. If you make all of things, they can't move back to their homelands.

  5. "The strangest things seem...suddenly routine."**

    Now every time I don't see this fish-on-a-box, I feel like out of place.

    Those are five of my (half-joking) reasons for feeling like I may have overstayed my welcome here in the land of the rising sun. What are yours?
    ** Lyric from Wig in a Box from Hedwig and the Angry Inch


A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.


  • helloalissa

    on Oct 10

    Haha, but isn't all this just growing up? I think you would feel more out of place back 'home' at this point anyway.

  • Tomuu

    on Oct 10

    This is great (and funny). Point number 4 really hit home. I've seen a lot of people head back home and have given up trying to replace them all. I find myself complaining loudly in English about situations I (wrongly) assume to be uniquely Japanese (under the stupid assumption that I can get away with it as no one around me will understand). Case in point; the partner and I went to see the new Bourne film this weekend. We were sat in the middle of a row full of people. As such we though we'd wait for others to leave first when the film ended. Except everyone in the row wanted to stay right until the credits and music had stopped, and staff were ready to come in to clear up a bit. I'd never stayed up to such an 'end' point before and was getting fed up. When the music stopped I stood up and said loudly (in English) that I think it's OK for everyone to leave now. I think the partner was embarrassed. That's just one of many examples. I really should stop.

  • JTsuzuki

    on Oct 11

    @helloalissa You're probably right about the first 2 points, and maybe the third, but I think the last two are more unique to the long-term expat situation. I have a feeling that I wouldn't be venturing out to meet new people even if I'd never left my home town, but I likely wouldn't actively avoid them the way I do here either. I also don't think I'd try so hard to make so many crafty diversions if I weren't so far from "home" at the point. Maybe that's just me though.

  • JTsuzuki

    on Oct 11

    @Tomuu Having to wait for everyone to leave at the end of the credits is awful! I hate that! Lucky me, my partner is more likely to be the jerk and stand up to criticize in Japanese. Well, maybe not more likely. 50/50 chance really. I know what you mean though, and it's hard when you know you've adapted so much to let the rest go, I think. You can only change so much, you know?