My family wanted me to pursue my studies here in the US. While I welcome the challenge, there are so many things about home that I miss since I got here. You can say that the US and Japan are world’s apart when it comes to values. Whereas we are very traditional in Japan, it is very unconventional here in the US. The difference is almost tangible. There are many rituals we have to adhere to in Japan whereas it is very casual here in the US. One example is how we refer to older people and greet them. In the US, one can get on a first name basis even with an elder and a wave or hug will do when greeting them. But in Japan, we bow to our elders and address them appropriately. Showing respect is very important. Here in the US, when one invites you for tea, you can expect a relaxed ambiance over a casual conversation. But in Japan, a tea ceremony would last for four hours with the conversation focusing on the dining pieces and decorations before you. You have to purify yourself before going inside the tea room. You do this by washing your mouth and hands. There can also be some poetry during the ceremony. The tea ceremony is an expression of our culture and art. It takes years to master this ritual before you can host a tea ceremony. While I am enjoying the independence and freedom that I have now while I am studying in the US, I have come to appreciate our culture and family values now that I am away from home. I love how we were trained to focus on the moment and to show respect and appreciation to others. I know deep inside these values are inculcated in my heart and mind wherever I go.