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