I am sure whenever someone moves to a new town, city, country- whatever- one has pre-conceived notions as to how things will be. I did my research and talked to people who have been to Japan. I thought I totally knew what to expect when we got here. I was WRONG about so many things. But one of the things I was right about was that I would miss things I didn't know I had back in the states, and things I did know I had. It's coming on 6 months since our arrival- here's a little list of the things I miss since leaving the states:
Big wide roads. Driving on the other side of the road is no biggie once you get used to it (just remember- "ass on the line".) But driving down what looks like a one-way alley- but is actually a two-lane road- is nerve wracking. Not only do you have to judge whether there is enough room for that oncoming car to pass you, but there are the pedestrains and bicyclists to worry about. And don't get me started on the scooters and mopeds! They appear out of NOWHERE- I kid you not. Needless to say I have scraped a few curbs, turned on the windhshield wipers instead of the turn signal, and cut a few people off. I haven't actually heard anyone cuss me out in Japanese (did get honked at once)- but I know they are! If it was the other way around- I would! And then there are the three way stops at the train tracks- I hate those! The freeways are nice at least (though I haven't actually driven on them yet.) Of course you have to pay hefty tolls to use them- but they are worth it.
Red Robins. I didn't realize how much I would miss American food. After all, I was sooo excited to try real Japanese food- especially the sushi and gyoza (pot stickers). But I miss being able to say "the heck with cooking" and hop on down to Red Robins for some yummy french fries and a burger. That said we do have some American restaurants here. Some of the bases have Chilis (just not the one I am at.) And there is an Outback Steakhouse in the next town. But they still are not conveniently located to my liking. Oh, we have plenty of fast food here on base as well- yuck.
The smell of a wood burning fireplace. We actually had a gas fireplace back in Washington- but many around us had wood burning stoves and foreplaces. I LOVE that smell in the winter time. It puts me in the holiday mood and gives me a cozy feeling. They just don't have those here- at least not that I know of. But they DO burn the trash! Weird, I know. We actually seperate our trash into- burn, non-burn, and recycle.
Shopping Malls. There is some great shopping here- I can't lie. But it is just not the same as stateside. What I really miss is Sephora. Did you know they won't ship to FPOs (military post office box)? All they have to do is fill out a little customs slip and mail it regular US mail. I have emailed to complain- no response. And then the bastards go and tease me and mail me the catalog. Bastards.
I miss Old Navy and Target the most. The Navy Exchange here is VERY limited and everyone ends up wearing the same clothes- especially the kids. And there are some things I just can't find and can't get shipped here- like floor lamps and a memory foam mattress topper for Brother's bed.
Youth Football and Cheer They have youth sports here- but it is very limited. Brother was playing full tackle football back in Washington. Here- due to lack of resources- they only have flag football. It is sooo not the same! Sister joined the cheer squad- once again- not the same. I was so glad when that was over. I am not a huge football fan- except when it comes to watching the kids. There is nothing better than watching your son get his first interception and knocking other kids on the ground (in the game of course.) Here no one even came out to watch their kids play! Like I said- it is just not the same.
Local TV and Real Commercials! We get AFN- All Forces Network. It sucks. I think AFN is where all bad 80s movies go to die. Its not always bad- sometimes they show movies that are pretty recent- ones you would have had to have HBO to watch. But the commercials! Since there are no advertisers- the AFN has its own commercials. Some of them blatantly copy real commercials. Basically they are PSA's- they remind you to recycle, give you safety tips, how to mail packages via the Military Postal System, etc. The last one is terrible- it is a cheesy computer animation showing some soldiers working in the post office. The theme is "Can't Ship This"- to the tune of MC Hammer's "Can't Touch This"- they do the dance and everything. It makes me want to run screaming through the streets it is so bad. There are other more serious commercials related to drug use, PTSD and sexual harrassment. There is one about huffing that basically tells you that huffing will kill you (true- we know that for a fact). Well I had to explain to the kids what huffing is. So the next time I am fixing Sister's hair and use the hair spray- she asks me if she is huffing because of the hair spray fumes. Geez. Needless to say- we rent a lot of movies.
Well that is all I can think of at the moment- I am sure I will be adding to my list. I do realize there will be a lot of things Japanese I will miss once we move back- so for now I am going to try to enjoy it all I can!