Looking back, some of my best memories were made when hanging out with the Computing Science Student Society crew at SFU, and chilling with my co-workers at Google, Santa Monica. There's just something about enjoying life with people who are like you. That is, you laugh at the same things, you speak the same way, make clever word play and jabs, and mix it up with inside jokes and nerdy references. You watch a movie and laugh at the same places, get enthusiastic about eating at a particular place, oooh and ahh at interesting news. You feel connected. You feel like you belong. And it's just... fun.
Japan is lonely.
There is no word play, because communicating means using simple, easy-to-understand English. Cultural references need to be explained. Explaining jokes sucks. People ask where you're going to work after you graduate, because of course, you're not going to stay in Japan. You feel like you don't belong, and you'll never belong.
In no way am I disparaging my school and my lab. They're the only things that are making this bearable.
But I do miss laughing. The hearty, American laugh and enjoyment of life, silliness and camaraderie. The smile when I say "Holy smokes, Batman!" instead of a confused glance away. My own uncontrollable guffaws when someone imitates Darth Vader, instead of my ignorant and clumsy questioning about Japanese subculture.
I'm about as multicultural as anyone I know, but the longer I'm away from North America, the more I realize that I am Canadian. I am American. And as cool as the pastures are overseas, the grass is definitely very green back home.