InterNations Featured Blog
Recommended Expat Blogs: Japan
Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Japan:
I still marvel over the deft manner in which Japanese people can remove their shoes coming in and out of homes and temples. I am updating all my shoes to be of the slip-on variety because the bottom-up duck pose is just getting embarrassing.
Also nobody believes me when I tell them I am South African. Surely I'm German, Russian, American...
I had moved around a lot before I arrived in Japan so I was used to uprooting and replanting. Aside from the language there wasn’t anything major that surprised me. The longer I live here the more I discover and learn. Maybe the biggest differences are how Japanese people typically just quietly accept things, where I’m always asking, “Why?” or “Why not?” and the relationships between men and women seem a bit archaic at times. Oh, and Japanese variety shows are absolutely insane!
I’ve moved a number of times since I entered college, and I was fortunate enough to know some Japanese before I came here, so it hasn’t been so bad for me. The hardest it hits me is every year at Thanksgiving, when I feel like I should be home celebrating, but I am in Japan where nobody even realizes that it’s a holiday.
I could never have fully prepared myself for Japan. It is difficult to prepare for it as it is another world to me. I wouldn’t want to change any of the decisions I made as it was part of the learning and acclimatization process to living in Japan. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without making the mistakes I made in the past.
I do not think I was sufficiently prepared for this trip. But it was voluntary. I wanted a more pointed challenge. I wanted to settle in a country without knowing the language or culture. It was extremely interesting to me. I do not think I would change anything in this experience.
Learn enough Japanese to introduce yourself, to order at a restaurant, and to pay your bills at a convenience store. The rest will come in time, but you have to work at it.
While I didn't experience culture shock when I moved to Japan, I immediately noticed a big change in my diet. The food is the biggest change for me. I think the food in Japan is awesome, it’s healthy, and above all, easily available. I also think public transportation in Japan is hands down the best in the world due to its ease of use and reliability.
I would rather forget most of those early experiences, but let’s just say that coming from New Zealand, where most of my friends never wore high heels, let-alone makeup, I was not the most stylish of the Tokyo-ites!
Life in Japan differs greatly from that of back home in Australia. I had to get used to a new language, culture and food. I was glad that I had a background in the Japanese language which helped prepare me for Japan. I actually went over to Japan with a group of friends, which made the whole process of adjusting a lot easier as we were all going through a similar experience and were there to support each other.
If you’re open-minded, it’s not so difficult to adapt. However, one thing that I still struggle with is the bad insulation of Japanese houses, so in winter it’s freezing cold and in summer super hot inside. And I do have issues with Japanese doctors and hospitals sometimes. The real problems start once you’ve been here for a few years. Even if YOU call Japan your home, you’ll always be an outsider.
I did experience culture shock, but it was the result of little frustrations building up over time. The biggest obstacle is the language barrier. When I first arrived here, everything was a blur. I couldn’t grasp what anyone was trying to tell me and I couldn’t respond. My level of Japanese is very low, which makes communicating with people very difficult, but the longer I live here, the easier it is slowly getting to communicate with and understand people.
As I had studied in Japan before, I came here with some knowledge of what it would be like to live here. I only applied for jobs that I thought were a good match for what I was looking for, and I think that helped a great deal in being able to adjust to my life in Japan. I wouldn’t change anything, because I’m happy with where my life has taken me thus far.
Japan – or at least the part I’m familiar with – is incredibly inviting and warm. Being that Koriyama does not exactly have many foreigners, incredulous strangers spontaneously starting a conversation and gawking passersby can be a bit bewildering/alarming. I’ve had to remind myself many times that they are simply interested, with no mal intent.
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