InterNations Featured Blog
Ada: Travel in Boots
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Japan, etc.
My name is Ada and I’m from the Philippines. I moved to Japan in January 2014 as a result of my husband’s deployment, he is in the US Navy. At my day job, I’m an assistant language teacher at a Junior high school in Tokyo and a blogger at night. We live in Kanagawa, Prefecture, exploring this boundless Prefecture as much as possible every weekend.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
My husband and I were newly married when I moved to Japan. I had no idea what’s expected of me as a new military spouse and as a newcomer in Japan, although I’ve been to Japan twice as a tourist, being settled is completely different. All I knew was to go outside and explore nearby places while my husband was at work. From there, I realized that if perhaps I blog about my travels and challenges as a newcomer spouse in Japan, it would soon help others in similar situations; places to explore, finding a job, or how to ace free military flights as examples.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My culture shock experiences:
- How Filipinas with Foreign Partners are Viewed in Japan
- My First Onsen — From Culture Shock to Fantastic Experience
My first solo travel experience (while husband was in Okinawa):
- A Journey To The World Heritage of Nikko And It’s Magical
- Braving the Elements of Lake Kawaguchiko and Lake Saiko
Tell us about the ways your new life in Japan differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
The transition from third world to first world country was a big challenge for me. The habit of converting currency is always expected to people traveling or moving to another country such in my case from Philippine peso to Japanese yen, which was the main reason why I found everything expensive during my first few months here in Japan. Eventually, I came to the reality that I’m now in a first world country and learned to face it. Also, the weather! From a warm country to a four-season country, not to mention I moved during winter. Brrrrr….
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Japan? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Ha. Good question. Many times I’ve thought that if I could only turn back in time (while still living in the Philippines) I would study or even master Nihongo before moving. Here in Japan, you have to learn the language in order to get the best possible experience of living here.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
The toilet complication. When I was new here, I once went to a toilet with so many buttons. Took me ages to look for the flush button, still didn’t find it, and just left without flushing it.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Japan?
- Learn the language! Please, make this your priority. Don’t just learn the basics.
- Read Japan travel guidebooks. Buy a guidebook that features Japan customs and etiquette. I have 2 Japan travel guidebooks so far and another 3 on their way, it has helped me a lot about the country’s culture and norms which could not be found through typical internet search.
- Visit Japan for a few weeks or a month as a tourist to take in the culture and norms.
How is the expat community in Japan? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I was lucky to have found a group of Filipino English teachers and since then, I develop a long lasting friendship with them.
How would you summarize your expat life in Japan in a single, catchy sentence?
Once you step into this beautiful country of boundless encounters, it’ll be hard for you to find a reason to leave. You’ve been warned. Japan is enchanted.