InterNations Featured Blog
Dru: Dru's Misadventures
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Japan, etc.
I’m Dru from Canada. I was born and raised in Vancouver and moved to Tokyo, Japan in 2005. Since then, I have been working as an English teacher and travelling to many places throughout Japan and Eastern Asia. I grew to love travelling as well as photography since I came to Japan.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging in the August 2008. I was asked to start a blog by one of my employers to help their students study English. I had already thought about starting my own blog around the same time so it was an excellent catalyst for me to start. I considered making an English lesson style blog but it wasn’t me. I wrote what I knew best, and it was about travelling. I found it to be a great way to record what I had done in my own personal travels and to remember what I did do in these various places. It has evolved even further and I hope the information I provide will help anyone who reads it understand what to in the places I have gone and to learn from my own mistakes and regrets. I even enjoy going back to read various posts of my blog and reliving my experiences in each of the places I have written about.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My favorite series on my blog has to be my trip around Shikoku. It is one of my most memorable trips and may be the most memorable trip in my life.
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?
I have been in Japan for such a long time that I now have a tough time remembering the culture shocks that I experienced. One of the biggest shocks had to be the lack of greenery in Tokyo. Coming from Vancouver, I was able to see lush green lawns and beautiful gardens everywhere. Most of the streets were lined with trees, but Tokyo can feel like a city without any nature compared to Vancouver. I still miss nature but I have come to love the small pockets of greenery throughout Tokyo and I constantly enjoy searching for the next great green space.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Japan? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
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.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Unfortunately, I can’t think of any at the moment. At least none that happened to me. :)
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Japan?
- Find out what you can/can’t get in Japan. Some items are easy to find, some are expensive, and some are impossible to find. I have big feet and finding shoes are nearly impossible, so buying what you need before you come is necessary.
- Go with an open mind. I have seen many people come to Japan with preconceptions that it will be either good or bad and then to have them shattered for better or for worse. Try to be optimistic and just soak up the life you live.
- Have fun. Work to live, not live to work. Japan has a lot of things to see and do and life is too short to spend all of it working. Take the opportunity to enjoy yourself and absorb as much as you can.
How is the expat community in Japan? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community is wonderful in Japan. I have met a lot of people who have come and gone. Most people I have met are very open and welcoming. At first, it was very difficult as I had no means of meeting new people, either Japanese or fellow expats. After a few years and working, I started networking and it became much easier to meet fellow expats.
How would you summarize your expat life in Japan in a single, catchy sentence?
Japan has opened up my eyes and my mind to the various possibilities the world has to offer me and helped me meet people from all over the world.