Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Habits


Feeling like a fish out of water...
I used to think of cultural habits as located in the mind, but since attempting to reintegrate into life in Australia I have found my body far more often than my mind either betraying my acquired foreignness, or reminding me of habits I had never noticed I had before suddenly finding myself practising them again. Bowing is, of course, the quintessential physical habit Japan leavers find ourselves unable to control. After time in Japan bowing becomes so ingrained that even when consciously trying not to it can be impossible to stop. I bow in the car, on the phone, even when writing a particularly formal email. As for the latter category, I sat back inside my mind and watched in fascination as my body of its own accord began shaking out my shoes for spiders before putting them on within just a few days of repatriating. It careful checked towels for spiders before drying me after stepping out of the shower. I must always have done it, I suppose, but unconsciously. I was startled to see people in my home town walking around in the rain without umbrellas. I bought an umbrella and within minutes it was inside out. I had forgotten how windy it is down here, with the roaring forties blowing across the island. I stopped carrying an umbrella, but it felt strange. Foreign.
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4 comments:

  1. Yes, when you've lived in other countries and return, you can never again be the way you were before. You'll always be somewhere on the edge, with other habits, other ways of seeing things. The same thing will happen if you return to japan - the Australian side will take over in similar ways. It's not a bad thin - it's quite interesting, lasts a life time - enjoy it!

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    1. The fate of the traveller... never really "at home" anywhere.

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  2. I remember having more culture shock when I came home than when I arrived in Japan. Being in awe of Americans but also noticing things about myself (mannerisms, saying "un" during conversations, and yosh... I still say that occasionally and no one knows what I'm saying).

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    1. Yes, I was expecting the shock but surprised by how physical it was!

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