Tag Archives: culture shock

Culture Shock: Something Everyone Should Experience

With the holiday mixed with getting some kind of terrible sickness, I’ve decided to re-blog a flash from the past of my arrival to Japan.  This is more of a fun read, but hopefully it will inspire readers to experience a new world for themselves. 🙂

DSCF5573After a jolty and uneasy flight on an old Delta Airline plane (old as in no music or TVs available to our own private use, which apparently, some people were expecting) we exhaustedly exited the plane after 12 hours, a fairly shorter time than expected.  Everything was happening so fast, I couldn’t believe that I just up and left everyone and now I’m in Japan.  The good thing was that I was with a bunch of people experiencing the same phenomenon. We had plenty of guidance from JET volunteers to help greet and point us in the right direction.

DSCF5557We had one chance to re-arrange luggage and use the restroom before getting on the bus, so I thought it wise to use the bathroom before going.  I step into the stall, close the door and pause. Apollo 13 didn’t have as many buttons as this toilet did.  There were buttons on the side of the toilet, and more buttons on a contraption in the wall, buttons everywhere.  I thought to play it safe and just not press anything, but then I needed to flush.  How was I supposed to know which one is flush?  Everything is in Japanese, and the corny pictures didn’t help either… I stood in the stall, studying the buttons, frantically trying to find the right one and resisting the urge to yell “Houston we have a problem” to my friend outside the bathroom.  Frustrated and ready to give up, I put the seat down, and what do you know, a regular, western style toilet lever shined in my eyes. So of course, my first culture shock experience happened to be in the bathroom before I even stepped foot outside the Airport.

The next few days at orientation were a mix of jet-lag and overwhelming amounts of information.  Tokyo was very busy and I was able to go out with my friend who had a friend who knows Tokyo very well.  It took a while to find the restaurant, and I didn’t wear the right shoes for walking around, but we finally came to a little narrow door that led us to a small case of winding stairs, Harry Potter style.  At the end of the stairs, we came to the opening of a small restaurant, but between us and the entrance was a small pond with stepping stones, there were even fish in the water swimming around the stones that we were stepping on.

dscf5591I couldn’t eat, or sleep on the plane, so I wasn’t feeling the greatest.  Lara’s friend did all the ordering because we couldn’t speak Japanese, and the server just kept bringing plate after plate of very… unique foods.  I was a trooper and tried everything at least once, including raw squid and a little fish with the eyes and tails still on it, nothing suited my stomach. It was too much to take in at once, so I waited patiently until everyone had their fill and we took the same route back home to the hotel.  I collapsed on the bed at about 12:30.  When I opened my eyes, I look at the clock, and groan.  Its only 4:30….  I get up, shower, and get ready to start another jam packed day.

I was relieved to see cereal, finally something I could stomach!  DSCF5599Unfortunately, I had a pretty bad case of JET lag and had to go lay down after the first meeting.  I slept through lunch and almost missed dinner, which didn’t really matter anyway because they had Japanese food, and I still couldn’t handle it.  In the evening, our Kagoshima Prefecture spent some money and bonding time doing Karaoke, you know… “when in Rome”.  The people in our group are great, very kind, and very British!  There were only 3 of us who were American in our little group, so it was cool to be around those accents all the time.

DSCF5622When Karaoke was over, we went to the hotel and tried our best to sleep, but didn’t succeed…  We had helpful workshops and information given to us during the day, and then in the evening, I had the opportunity to meet up with an American family.  My roommate Stephanie and I went out to eat with them (I had udon soup, which was very bearable).  They then took Steph, their daughter, and I up an amazing skyscraper where we were able to see all of Tokyo from the top of the building.  The whole floor had large glass windows in which we saw the amazing lights of Tokyo extending farther than the horizon would let us see.  It was beautiful.

The pictures I took unfortunately don’t do the experience justice, DSCF5670but if you are to view Tokyo, I highly recommend going to a tall building and look out the windows at night.  It made New York seem like a baby.  After another long day, Steph and I went back to the hotel to get ready to depart for our actual home in Japan, Kagoshima!

This was written by me over 4 years ago, I have a few other posts from my blog in Japan, but those are for another time.  See you next week!