InterNations Featured Blog
Aala: Gaijin Japan
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Japan, etc.
My name is Aala, which is short for Aladdin. I am French of Tunisian origin. I was born in France, I grew up in Tunisia and I studied in France.
At the end of my studies, I went on a world tour. It started on 5 November 2009. I had the opportunity to visit a dozen of countries in five continents, to live six months in Australia, a year in Canada and I moved to Japan.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I decided to start blogging and share my experience when I saw that there was no, or little information useful for my trip. That was in May 2011, when I arrived in Japan.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Yes I do have some, especially the ones were I give tips that it is hard to find on Internet, because many people don’t talk about money:
- How to get a Working Holiday Visa for Japan
- The cost of Life in Japan and its major cities
- The 28 different visa you can get to go to Japan
But also some post about my daily life in Japan such as:
- My Halloween in Japan and how I became a Blue Man
- My really bad experience at work with Leafcup English Cafe
- And my experience as a freelance French Teacher in Japan
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?
My life in Japan is totally different from my other life as I had to rebuild everything from the beginning. I had to find a job, make friends, find me a home and learn a new language. It was a real challenge.
I have not had any particular disorder to get used to my new life as I used to travel and I had already had the opportunity to live in other countries previously (6 years in Tunisia, 20 years in France, six months in Australia, a year in Canada).
I think, as anyone traveling to Japan, I had some cultural shock. This is due to the simple fact that the lifestyle is totally different. But all this does not stop me from living my life fully.
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 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.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Yes, I have many funny stories that happened to me.
One day I was walking through the streets of Tokyo wearing a football jersey of Japan. I was then arrested by a policeman who asked for my ID. He did not look at it. Then he asked me why I was wearing a jersey of Japan. Then he told me that I could go.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Japan?
If I were to give 3 advices, this would be:
- Respect the local culture, do not make yourself at home
- Show your interest for Japan and its people
- Prepare a budget so because the cost of living is high.
How is the expat community in Japan? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expatriate community in Japan is small. It is easy to know everyone. It is very easy to meet people with similar lifestyles. There are also many website for it.
How would you summarize your expat life in Japan in a single, catchy sentence?
A life full of surprises and interesting things to discover, and every day.