Sunday, August 7, 2011

Culture Shock, or lack thereof.

The initial month is one of the most difficult, according to other participants in JET and those leading workshops and lectures at Tokyo Orientation. After spending several days here, I find that quite true and happy that I at least had an idea of what to expect.

It isn't that I haven't had support of those at my job and in my community, because I have. It isn't that my supervisor and I can't communicate due to a language barrier, because we manage just fine. It isn't even that I'm all alone in the Japanese countryside, because I'm not, thanks to my husband.

At Orientation they called it "Culture Shock," and it comes in several stages.

The four stages of Culture Shock are as follows:

1 Initial Euphoria (Honeymoon Period)
Anything new is intriguing and exciting.

2 Irritation and Hostility (Culture Shock)
The JET participant often fees homesick and had a negative attitude towards the host culture.

3 Gradual Adjustment
The JET participant starts to adjust and the culture seems more familiar.

4 Adaptation and Biculturalism
The JET participant is completely adjusted to the host culture and may even experience Reverse Culture Shock upon their return to their home country.

However, I'm not even sure that what I've been feeling is Stage 2. I don't feel homesick OR have a negative attitude. I love it here, but things are a bit frustrating at the moment. The second day of arriving in my new town, Matt and I applied for our Gaijin Cards, which is basically like a Green Card in the U.S. Pretty much everything hangs on having that card in possession, but it takes a few weeks to arrive in the mail.

Currently I am without a car, because you can't rent or buy without the Gaijin Card. Despite Japan having an amazing transportation system, the trains run less frequently here than they do in the cities and they're also more expensive than I expected. I also do not have a bank account, or even a cell phone. It's a little unnerving, but there isn't much we can do about it but wait for the cards to arrive and do our best.

Yesterday Matt and I took the train into the closest large city for a デイト (date) to take our mind off of things. It was amazing. We had a lovely time having lunch at a nice restaurant, exploring the shops in 2 different malls, and treating ourselves to cake and iced coffee at an adorable cafe. Slowly decorating the apartment to suit our tastes has also been fun, as there's a great home decor store only one train stop away.

Once school starts up for both of us (teaching for me, grad school for Matt) we will also be more busy. There are many events to look forward to this month, including a BBQ and Japanese Language classes with the International Society in our city. In addition, I have seminars and training on two different occasions in Kyoto City. Matt and I plan to make a weekend trip out of it to explore the historic capital :) Things WILL get easier!


  1. It's been really interesting reading your updates so far...! I hope you get your gaijin card soon. :)

  2. I miss you so much, but I'm happy you're quickly adjusting. Just know that no matter how sad you may have gotten, everyone here is excited for you, and we're always here should you need us. I love you, Meru, and I wish the best for you!

  3. Yes the bureaucratic side of Japan is something that will always kinda be irritating and you will never really get used to. This is my boyfriend's 4th year and it still grates on him.

    Your town looks beautiful, mountains and a sea view, I am jealous!

    Just read you are looking for a bed. Ask someone in your school/town if there is a NITORI near you, it's like IKEA but more common in Japan, so you might save yourself some money that way?

  4. Thanks everyone :)

    Anna - We ended up buying from a store in the next town over called "TWO ONE STYLE" and they even delivered for free!


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