My suitcase lies in the corner of my room. It looks so small and insignificant. Just a suitcase packed with a few summer clothes and Christmas presents. Eight months ago the same suitcase looked very different. The first time I saw the suitcase in my room I thought it was humongous and imposing. My whole life packed into one bag, I certainly didn’t think it was insignificant.

It’s been over eight months since I was last in England. Over eight months since I’ve seen my friends, family and cat. Despite backpacking solo for ten months in 2013, I’ve never stayed in one country this long. Japan is now my home.

I am very excited to go home for Christmas. Since I’ve been gone there have been new relationships, marriages and a few new babies (including my niece who I have only met via Skype). So much has happened in so little time and I’m a little scared that I will be out of the loop.

I know that as soon as my tired feet touch the tarmac in cold and cloudy Manchester that I will realise that I’m home. Yes life will have changed but not as much as I imagine. When I go to the pub on Christmas eve it will be like no time has passed at all. I’ll have a few drinks and chat to my fiends just like I do every Christmas.

After spending over eight months in a completely different culture I’m scared that I’ve changed. Will I bow or speak Japanese by accident? Will I act shy and less confident like many Japanese do? How will I cope with being able to understand all of the conversations being spoken all around me? Can my mind cope with the constant fracas?

On Sunday I will travel to Narita airport and have three weeks of restbite from my expat life. Three weeks of familiarity.

You know what? I really can’t wait….



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