Lately I’ve been thinking about my decision to study abroad in Japan for three and a half months – no surprise as I’m leaving on Sunday. I previously spent a year abroad studying in Seville, Spain and I absolutely loved it. Of course, there were moments or even days when I wanted nothing more than to get the heck out of there and come back to the US and I was so homesick for family, friends, and familiar places that I actually cried; but overall, I loved my time in Spain. The city was fun and lively, the weather was gorgeous and sunny, the people were friendly, the culture was interesting and I wouldn’t trade that year for anything. And now as I finish packing my suitcases, I wonder how Japan will be. I remember that the first few months in Spain were the most difficult in terms of adjusting to the culture and after that critical period I began to feel like I was settling into the ebb and flow of my life there. But in Spain I had an entire year to adjust and adapt and make a real life for myself in the country. In Japan, I have only 3.5 months to do the same. I just simply can’t imagine that I will be able to create a real life for myself in the country in such a short time. More likely, I will just begin to reach past the stage of being a tourist/visitor when I will need to fly back to the US and abandon what progress I will have made. This brings me to an interesting thought. In Spain, I looked similar enough to the natives that I was able to “pass” and, in the beginning, as long as I didn’t speak there wasn’t really any way of singling me out as a foreigner. But now I will be the extraordinarily homogeneous society that is Japan where I will look nothing at all like the natives. Because of the inherent characteristics of the Japanese society/culture and not looking like the “typical Japanese person” especially in a more rural area like Hikone, I will most likely be spending my time simply trying to avoid being stereotyped as the “typical gaijin” and making friends with the Japanese students in my classes. Three and a half months is barely enough time to get my feet wet in the culture, let alone begin to feel like a full member of the society, but the time spent studying abroad would be nothing more than a regular tourist’s vacation if I didn’t at least attempt to integrate myself into the local society.
Culture Shock Blog
(c) Silvine Photography
Many of my photographs are taken during my travels through Europe, Asia and Africa. I'm continually seeking inspiration in the architecture I see, the local customs I engage in and the vibrant lifestyles of the people I meet. I see each photograph as a candid shot of someone's life in another country. Through my photography I want to erase borders that may exist because of distance, language or misunderstanding.
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Last night was my last night teaching at Better World and I’m rather sorry for that. My favorite experience being in Egypt was teaching English and Spanish at the Better World NGO classes in Heliopolis every Tuesday. My students were fun and energetic and always eager to learn. Even my duties as a daily manager […]
A few weeks ago I spent a weekend in Luxor with a friend of mine. It was a nice diversion from classes at AUC and very much welcomed. We took the cheapest option for getting to Luxor, an 11 hour train ride in second class. We left Cairo around 1 AM and arrived in Luxor […]
A few weeks ago my friends and I decided to climb Mt. Sinai supposedly where Moses received the commandments from God. We left late from Cairo so we would be able to reach Mt. Sinai and climb before the sunrise which actually turned out to be perfectly planned. The trip took around 7 or 8 […]
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