The Biggest Japanese Challenge

November 14, 2008 chouei

Just as I had promised in my previous entry, I will lay off the political rants for now and finally fulfill my blog’s purpose by actually writing about my experiences abroad. Because I have not been keeping up with my blog updates, I have so many things I wish to share about Japan! Instead of blogging, I just kept a list of things that I want to mention…

Today marks the 5th week that I have been living in Japan, and to be quite honest, it has been anything but an easy five weeks. I honestly thought that I would be able to adapt to the Japanese lifestyle almost instantly because I consider myself to be an extremely adaptable person. However, it has proven to be much more difficult than I had originally anticipated. I have learned that it is one thing to travel to a different country, but it is another thing to be faced with the fact that this new, strange place is now what you must call home.

Don’t get me wrong. I am having the absolute time of my life in Japan, but in the past five weeks, I have definitely grown more as a person by understanding my personal capabilities. I find myself stepping out of my comfort zone each day and slowly becoming much more accustomed to the way of life here. My confidence in my Japanese speaking ability is slowly increasing, though I do know that I have a long path towards fluency. I have fully acknowledged and accepted that everything is and will be much smaller in Japan.

What I have finally come to terms with about myself this week is that I am experiencing culture shock. No matter how adaptable and versatile a person can be, culture shock is inevitable. However, I believe that my degree of shock is not as great because I never came here with the mentality that just because I am American, I can get away with doing things as I did in the U.S. I am here with the mindset that “When in Japan, do as the Japanese do.” I am trying to suppress my loud personality as much as I can in public because the Japanese culture is overall very reserved. OK…I’m not exactly succeeding with this task. Haha!

I do get homesick every now and then, especially with social mediums like Facebook that make the world smaller but at the same time make me miss home through all the pictures I see. It makes me want to work harder every time I end a conversation with a friend from home because these important people help me remember my purpose for being in Japan. So thank you!

And allow me to extend a special thank you to my good friend Miguel, who e-mailed me the other day and shared his usual inspiring words:

“Change is (always) scary — and most people are put-off by it or go into a state of denial (rather than confronting it) — but you, on the other hand, yearn for change. That’s a “Leslie Gene” that you should nurture, and one that I try to emulate everyday.”

To my fellow study abroad travelers wherever in the world you may be: There is nothing wrong with accepting weakness because we all have to go through weakness at some times during our adventures.


Entry Filed under: Japan and tagged: ,

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