For example I didn`t think I would miss my bed so much, that one was a slap in the face the first week here- I didn`t see it coming.
Perhaps the refreshingly large bath tubs and hot spring culture here make up for my missing my bed. If not that, then possibly the abundance of delicious, affordable, filling and healthy foods here.
Thanksgiving and Halloween weren`t what I thought they would be. Originally I believed that Japanese at least knew about Thanksgiving, but it`s not common knowledge which was fine just it was a surprise. And since I organized an International food party it was a nice way to celebrate since none of us had our families.
Halloween is not taken seriously here in my opinion, it isn`t celebrated except in some corners of large cities like Osaka and Tokyo and some people who like to dress up, but it isn`t on the same scale, as far as I have seen.
What I didn`t forsee at all was the lack of pumpkins. For some reason I thought everyone had pumpkins. I still haven`t seen an actual pumpkin- and the little green gourds (Kabocha) don`t count.
More seriously though, I didn`t think I would get so attached to the people here. The other international students, the local shop owners who wish me a safe return home each and every day that I see them when I leave for school or when I return home and they welcome me home.
The lunch ladies here at the university that are so warm, friendly, and love to laugh. The cleaning lady who cleans the dorms or the dorm advisor...all of them so interesting, spunky and welcoming.
I will miss the slurping of noodles in public places, the well-known Kansai people`s overt friendliness, and maybe even the heated seats of the toilets that make it feel like someone was just sitting on it. Maybe not that last one-yeah it still freaks me out a little each time.
I`m going to miss the culture of older people who just keep going, and walking and moving. Getting out of their homes for a walk all the time. I`ll miss the lack of a large population of obese and inactive peoples and think it will be a visual shock when I return home.
There are also many things that top my list of things I will not miss. One of those is the dominance of the `Kawaii` or ubiquitous cute culture here where everything from clothing to mushrooms in the grocery store are cartoonized into `cute` caricatures.
I won`t miss the hot and muggy impossible summer weather, but maybe I will miss the loud call of cicadas that accompanies it. I will not be missing the loud crows that wake me up each morning at 5, but maybe will miss the shrieks of the elk-like deer that are everywhere in our area here.
Aside from the things I will and won`t miss I have of course exams I am preparing for, an independent Journalism class that has been helping me to get off my butt and get out to talk more with various Japanese people that has been keeping me busy.
And now I also have to deal with the tedious things like going to city hall to declare that I am leaving the country soon, paperwork, and more paperwork.
That was one thing that was so nice when I started to finally feel settled I didn`t have to keep filling out forms and going to government buildings and visiting advisors to re-submit forms I could just go on adventures by myself or with others and didn`t have as many commitments. But now I am also realizing just how little time I have to do all the things I would like to accomplish.
It was nice after the first month and a half because I knew my way around Nara, had become familiar with the processes and procedures, could find a train or bus to easily go places, and I just had a nice sense of familiarity and not a huge sense or urgency.
At first I used art, books, movies and nature to cope and then as I got better, I also could adjust with the other international students and relied less and less on the art, books, movies and nature and more and more on group activities and gatherings.
Recently, I have finally gotten used to living in a dorm setting, with a bunch of women on one side of the street, and then if I walk across the street I can hang out easily with the guys at their South dorm, and the variety of personalities at both dorms to me is just so cool I know it will be hard to do without in the future.
I really love having midnight chats about politics, culture and our future goals. Fun and harmless gossip about the other international guys and women, and our triumphs and inadequacies in Japan. It has all helped to build strong social bonds that make living in a foreign place feel so much less foreign and much more like a place I feel at home with.
Now, just as I have become pretty well adjusted (I knew it was coming-really it`s ok), and my room is finally cozy, I have to get going and start preparing for my return home.
I`m ready, but part of me isn`t ready, just like when I came here.
But I will fill out forms, pack, get things done ahead of time and last minute, and spend time with friends just like before only this time I know that the people I leave behind I probably will not see again except for maybe on Skype or Facebook.