The title of this post comes from the song “Everybody’s Talkin’” which was recorded by, among others, Harry Nilsson. The lyrics have been in my head since I got back to the UK:
Everybody’s talking at me
I don’t hear a word they’re saying
Only the echoes of my mind
People stopping staring
I can’t see their faces
Only the shadows of their eyes
I’m going where the sun keeps shining
Thru’ the pouring rain
Going where the weather suits my clothes
Backing off of the North East wind
Sailing on summer breeze
And skipping over the ocean like a stone
It’s kind of hard to describe, but I think if you have lived abroad you might be able to relate to what I am about to describe. Being home is strange, and I feel like everybody’s talking at me. It’s hard to tune in to one conversation because all of a sudden there is so much going on around me that I can hear and understand. Before I left Japan, one of my Japanese friends said to me that she loved London because she can just tune out, and that makes it seem quieter. I guess that’s the same reason I feel more relaxed in Japan.
Also, the speed of everything here seems intense. People are talking so fast that the talk over each other and don’t even finish their sentences. In Japan, for the majority of the time, I was speaking to people whose first language wasn’t English, so it’s natural that they (and I) would speak a bit slower. I guess even when I spoke to the highest level students or Japanese teachers, I still must have slowed down a bit and chosen my words carefully.
One more thing that makes it a bit hard to keep up with conversations right now is that I don’t know half of what’s going on in the UK. People are talking about TV programs and celebrities I haven’t heard of and don’t care much about. I tried to listen to the radio earlier but there was too much talk and not enough music – on three different channels!
I think it’s going to take a little time to adjust…