Adrienne: Adrienne the Canadian
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Japan, etc.
I’m Adrienne, and I’m from Ontario, Canada. I first came to Japan in 2004 on an exchange arranged through my university, and after graduating, came back again in 2009. I teach EFL at a small English conversation school.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I’ve been into blogging for years, and have always tried to maintain some kind of journal. However, it was about two years ago when I decided that I should write specific posts about my experiences, and the observations I’ve made here in Japan. I just did a revamping of my website, which has made me really excited to start writing more posts! I’ve also more recently become interested in photography, so I’m looking forward to sharing more (and hopefully better quality) photos!
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I have a few!
- Sakura season is coming because who doesn’t like photos of cherry blossoms?
- ESL vs EFL, many people don’t realize that there’s a difference between ESL and EFL, and as an English language teacher, it’s something that I think is important.
- Owning a Dog in Japan is a new series I’ve started up that takes a look at some of the interesting points, and differences of having a four legged friend in Japan.
I also have a lot of posts in the works, and a bunch of topics that I can’t wait to write about!
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 moved to Japan shortly after graduating from university, so along with life in Japan, there were other things that I had to learn to adapt to, like living totally alone. I don’t think that I had any particular trouble getting used to my new circumstances, but my workplace helped things go smoothly. I don’t remember experiencing a whole lot of culture shock, but I did come knowing that things would be a lot different from what I was accustomed to.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Japan? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
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.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
There is this little fruit shop in my neighbourhood that is owned by an older couple. During my first week in Japan, I decided to check it out and buy some fruit. I found some really nice looking mangoes, and upon noticing my interest, the lady came over to assist me. I thought she had said they were 600 yen, and even though it was a bit more than I was expecting, I thought I’d treat myself. So I take my mango up to the counter to pay, and notice that gentleman is writing 6000 down in their record book. He then looks at me, and shows me the number. Needless to say, I was shocked. 6000 yen (roughly $60) for ONE mango? I didn’t even know how to respond, but luckily the lady came up to me and asked if I’d like one of the 500 yen mangoes instead – I readily agreed.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Japan?
- Learn some Japanese – even if you come to Japan with only a little, it’s better than none at all. A polite sumimasen or arigatou gozaimasu will go a long way.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’ve found that a lot of people here will readily help you, especially if you ask.
- Toss your expectations at the door. I’m not saying it’s bad to have expectations, but if you’ve never been to Japan, it probably won’t be like you’ve imagined it. So let go of your idea of how Japan is, and let yourself experience it.
How is the expat community in Japan? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Where I live there seems to be quite a big expat community, but many are people who have settled down here and have families. I haven’t gotten really involved in the expat community, but I think that no matter where you are, you can always find a few like-minded people if you try! You just need to put yourself out there, which is often easier said than done.
How would you summarize your expat life in Japan in a single, catchy sentence?
A rewarding experience, filled with laughter, randomness, and a really cute dog.