I arrived in Tokyo, Japan at the age of 21 to do summer university
courses for three months, I was very excited with everything. Once the plane
landed in Tokyo I was so amazed and delighted that I was finally in Japan,
something I had been planning for many months.
I faced several strange situations during my stay.
One of the situation was language culture shock. Japanese language and
the alphabet are completely different than western languages. I felt defenseless
and baffled at my inefficiency to understand anything. Many things took extra
time to figure out. I had troubles asking directions because I could not figure
out what the other person was saying. To overcome this problem, I spent additional
time to figure out the words for the places I wanted to go. I started to learn Japanese
language, made some friends and absorbed myself in their culture. By doing this
it helped me enjoy my stay in Japan because I certainly felt I was experiencing
Japanese culture. Even though I was able to speak a little it gave me the
courage to go see and do as much as I could.
After getting settled in Tokyo and meeting my fellow class mates we were
heading towards downtown to have breakfast. It was a bit of a surprise for a
breakfast. The breakfast menu was for example savory foods like soup, rice and
vegetables or curries. Those of us from Western countries tend to have lighter
version of breakfast such as cereals and acai bowls. It felt good afterwards
because the meals were nutritious, healthy, cheap and avoiding a sugar hit in
Another situation was the menu of options on a Japanese toilet. Japanese
toilets are more sophisticated and provides more functionality than a TV. There
are large number of buttons, so many unknown symbols and stick figures; also,
the concern that you could be sprayed with toilet water by merely approaching
one. Some of the common features were that with a click of button it can clean
private areas, electronically operated with a remote control. In addition to
this Japanese toilet includes audio, for instance music will play to help the
user relax. Additional features were heated seats, and warm-air drying. I felt
very confused at the first time and took lot of time to figure out which button
does a certain task. Nevertheless, after
using it for couple of times, it was easy to get used to it.
I found out what to expect in most situations, adjusted my own behavior
and realized to be pleased about new ways of thinking and attitudes. Subsequently
living in Japan for a month, things started to make sense and I understood
Japanese culture more thoroughly. Day after day I felt more pleased with my new
home. I accepted numerous new habits at the same time also keeping earlier ones
from my home country.
The following steps helped me deal better with culture shock. First, I
developed a routine. Thinking about how I dealt with stress back home and apply
it in the new culture. I was doing sports back home so I decided to join a
sports club and meet new people in a fun way. I tried to be positive and see
the good aspect in everything.
If I faced similar situation, I would use humor, laugh about myself or
whatever is frustrating me. Humor helps us make light of a situation. I constantly
try to recall, what can I learn from this. I don’t try to cancel out the
positive aspects of the other culture. Furthermore, I would learn as much as possible about my host country
preferably before I go. Reading through travel forums, guidebooks, news
reports and talking to people who have been there would help me learn about the