So this is only about 6 weeks too late, but here’s me letting you all know that I made it!
Moving to Japan has been a rollercoaster of stress, emotion and incredulity. In all honesty, moving here was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and before I can start telling you all about the fun I’ve been having, I feel I’ve got to talk about how much fun I’ve not been having. This post is probably a bit of a downer, but I want to let you know why I haven’t been blogging and telling you about all the great stuff that’s been going on!
So, imagine it. You’re going to uni for the first time. You don’t know anyone, you’re in a new place and everything is different. And now imagine that you’re doing that in a country that has an entirely different language and culture. You have a roommate from a different cultural and linguistic background.
It’s not necessarily the culture shock or homesickness that everyone has been telling you that you must be feeling which has made things so hard, it’s more about the fact you have to build yourself a whole new life here.
After being at Sheffield for a few years, it was easy to forget just how damned hard it was to acclimatise in those first few months. All too easy to forget that it took me a whole semester to find the friends that would become a lifelong family. Which is probably why I was so shocked that I wasn’t immediately having the time of my life here in Japan. After all this is what I’ve been working for, right?
So, not only are you somewhere new, everything is different. Cultural differences, language barriers and also shared experiences. When you first start University back at home, it’s easy enough to bond over that TV show you both watched as kids, or the way you had to do your GCSE’s in high school. These things aren’t necessarily true over here. Instead it’s way way too easy to focus on the way things are different
. This can be a good thing, I feel incredibly lucky to have learned so much from exchange students from all over the world, but at the same time it’s really easy to find these differences alienating and hard to relate to. Which is why it’s easy to see how many exchange students here have latched onto people from their own home countries.
So basically, what I’m trying to say is that no matter how much people shout culture shock, or homesickness at you- you don’t have to experience it in the way that they tell you it will happen. For me, it was difficult to merely fit in, push my boundaries and make friends.
(Heaven knows my friends from Sheffield were sick of me complaining about how much I miss them after only a week!)
It was hard, and some days it still is. But now I have some wonderful friends, an amazing room-mate and I’m slowly getting to know some great people in the clubs I’ve joined. Not only this, I’ve had a great time exploring Japan with people that I might never have had the chance to meet before. So in this sense, yes I am having the time of my life- but I do have to work for it! Which is why you haven’t heard from me too much in the whole 6 weeks I’ve been here.
So I’m going to round off this post with a few photos of the friends I’ve made and a promise to write more soon now that I’ve settled in a bit more! So, until next time~