At the end of September, and after nearly two years living in Japan, I had the great chance to be able to go to my native country, France, to meet my loved ones.
I knew this would be both a fantastic and (maybe?) shocking experience. I had only seen my country before the pandemic, and I was wondering how it would have changed now. Maybe I would experience the famous “reverse culture shock” that all foreigners returning to their countries had been talking about.
France has changed a bit and I have changed too. Who knows which one would have changed the most?
The truth is: my country is still my country, it hasn’t evolved much, bakeries still smell like heaven and people still complain for no reason. And these are comforting to me and my nostalgia.
I naively believed that I would spend my days relaxing surrounded by my pets and nature. It turned out to be much more of an accelerated catch up with everyone. From the moment I got reunited with my cat and nephews, to the moment I said “ただいま”, it seemed like only a second had passed.
What have I discovered about myself coming back to my roots?
It was not only a physical trip, but also a mental voyage.
I realized I am a Japanized version of my French self. Still feeling French, but in a less revolutionary way, in a more respectful, positive and distant way. I am proudly becoming what I find is the best of both cultures.
Additionally, I found out how much I loved to practice another language on a daily basis. I had the chance to quickly go to Italy and practice my very broken Italian and yet being able to communicate was extremely rewarding to me.
I also realized how convenient and easy it is to be living in our own native country. There is no need to think in another language, we are used to the way people treat us and do not wonder much about how to understand the recipe written on the back of a noodle box.
Everything pushes us to remain in our comforting native daily life. Do we choose convenience, or do we choose challenges?
Writing these few words reminds me of this quote from Jeff Bezos: “Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?”
While choosing to remain in our home country can be a deliberate choice, sometimes, it is just the result of what has happened to us. If you can and are willing to, I strongly recommend you to experience life abroad.
Overall this experience of a few weeks makes me feel all refreshed and energized for another year!
This picture was taken at Château de Chenonceau.
Olivia was born and raised in the Loire Valley in France, she majored in International and European business law. Passionate about languages and multiculturalism, she decided to take the opportunity to live in Tokyo for a semester as an exchange student in Chuo University where she drafted her master’s thesis. Once back to France, she worked as an in-house legal counsel in contract and business law. Slowly missing living abroad within an international environment, she then decided to build her own opportunity and go back to Japan in a move to become fluent in Japanese. This is when she joined Veritas, feeling highly motivated about the value it creates to its clients and willingness to contribute to the goals of Japanese’s ambitious leaders of tomorrow.