Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Take it from me

Over the weekend, I met the three new ALTs in Kuji -- Adam and Gary from England, and Lee from Wales.

From left to right: Takenori, Lee, me, Gary, Adam, Kenji in front

We had dinner together at Kenji's house on Saturday, and Kenji asked me to give the guys some advice about living in Japan. My first thought was, "Say yes to everything and bow constantly." :)

Here are some more serious tips I have to offer of Ways to make living abroad easier:
  • Get involved. Lead a conversation class, join a dance team, a sports team, etc. It really makes you feel like part of the community, and that makes all the difference.

  • Be patient. It truly is a virtue. Things that should be very simple are made complicated by the language barrier. I've found that Japanese people are patient with me as I try to communicate in Japanese, or English, or Japanlish -- a combination of the two. ;) I do my best to be patient as well.

  • Do as the Japanese do. There's really only one way of doing things here -- the Japanese way. My boss Yamadate likes to say, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." So when Yamadate told me that I shouldn't eat fruit at my desk (unless it's lunch break) because no one else here does, I had to respect that and stop.

  • Keep smiling. Smiling transcends the language barrier, and it make you more approachable.

  • Use Skype. This free program is such a great way to keep in touch with family and friends back home. Being away from my loved ones would be SO much harder without Skype!

  • Enjoy each day because time truly does fly!


Anonymous said...

I would say yes to the do as the Japanese do, but to some extent. As a foreigner in Japan you'll never be anything else than that, a foreigner. You'll never be considered as part of the system, you'll always be the gaijin, no matter how hard you try to act like Japanese people. I think the trick is to follow the main stream but to remain yourself. You are not Japanese and will never be considered as one, even if you spend 25 millions years in Japan.

Dana Sease said...

"The trick is to follow the main stream, but remain yourself." Yep, I agree 100 percent with that.:)

Lauren said...

You always give such good advice! I don't know what I would do with out being able to talk to you on Skype!