（Contributed by Girard）
To this day, I have lived in Japan for total of three and a half years, so I thought I’d reflect on that and share my thoughts and experiences in this blog post.
I came to Japan in 2009, knowing very little about the country and its culture, apart from what I’ve seen in movies or anime, and learned in high school. I was unsure whether or not I would like it here, or if I would even fit in, but I decided to take the plunge anyway. My first few months in Japan were not easy. I had studied some Japanese, but I was not prepared to navigate Tokyo, or do all the things a resident needs to do, such as open a phone contract, find an apartment, etc. Communication was very difficult, and as a result, I let my friends communicate for me in important situations. It was very frustrating for me, and living in Tokyo became very stressful.
Most of my friends were other foreigners when I first arrived. This limited my view of Japan, as well as my opportunities to learn the language and culture. I decided that it was time to make some native friends within my university, and outside as well. As I did this, my language skills and cultural understanding improved. It felt like more and more of Japan was available to me, and I was more and more capable of fitting in.
I left Japan in 2012, thinking that it was time to experience something new. I returned home, but it didn’t quite satisfy me. I moved to Hawaii for a while, but that was not the same either. I began to realize that I had felt at home here in Japan, despite the difficulties of assimilating. The challenges I overcame to create a life for myself here, and to adapt to the culture, formed an attachment to Japan within me. So at the beginning of this year, I decided to come back, and here I am. It feels good to be back, and I feel I am home again.
【My home in Japan】