Culture shock, I hate you


When I moved to Tokyo in November I was told that culture shock wouldn’t hit for two or three months and then everything would seem too difficult to handle. Well it seems this was the week. A crushing combination of stress, culture shock, nostalgia and my hatred of temperatures below 5 degrees made for a long and exhausting week. While some retail therapy in Ginza may have helped for a few hours I can’t shake the feeling I won’t ever fit in here, and not just because of my hair colour. Although I used to complain about Germany and Australia a lot these places are home for me – simple, comfortable. Even my short stay in Madrid, with its loud music and strange working hours, was easier to feel at home than Tokyo.

Someone also told me that you cannot ‘like’ Japan; there is only love or hate. So far I’m not sure where I stand on this. As a country I love it – the scenery is beautiful, the history is interesting – and I appreciate the culture absorbed in everything, but I don’t like being a foreigner in Japan. There are so many small things which I can’t get accustomed to, and the staring (which I thought I would be used to by now) often becomes too much.

Since I’m not going anywhere anytime soon all I can do is hope it gets better in the near future but for now, just get by.

16 Responses to “Culture shock, I hate you”
  1. Afterglow says:

    I think staring is very common in some Asian countries, some would even stare at you for minutes and several will ask you to be in their family pictures. When I was in Osaka, I’ve been stared at but I was also by myself. It didn’t bother me. If you smile at them, they’ll almost always smile back. Hang in there! :-)

  2. It will definitely get better. I moved to another continent at sixteen and sort of felt the same way, but what happens is, your environment becomes regular and the trying-to-figure-you-out becomes a regular occurrence. Also as you become less weirded out over it, people become less strange toward you. Then you’ll be more relaxed about your setting, but in the beginning, moving to another culture is never comfortable. :) Good luck! xo

    • I also moved overseas at 16, to Germany, but I never really experienced culture shock so I was surprised how hard it hit me this time. But it’s nice to know that I’m not the only person who’s felt this way. Thank you for the advice :)

      • Germany may be closer to who/how you are as a person that’s why. But when there is a drastic difference I can understand how shocking it can be. My culture shock was very extreme lol. You’re welcome concerning the advice, best of luck to you. xoxo

  3. Xenia says:

    maybe dye your hair black ;) …or wear a wig.

  4. africanyouthness says:

    Nice written! You just got a new follower ;)

  5. Kinpatsu Oneesan says:

    Japan can be an insanely frustrating place. Once you hit the point where you don’t care so much about being a foreigner anymore, it gets better.

  6. andra carter says:

    I feel your pain on standing out. my husband and I have been gringos (and I’m blonde) in ecuador for over a year and a half now. I love it here so much, but I am always aware of how much I stand out and often I wish I was brunette, at the very least.

  7. What you are experiencing is a common phenomenon amongst foreign exchange students and newcomers to foreign lands, that are vastly different. If you can move beyond this, you will feel truly integrated into your new community. How you move on, to a deeper understanding and integration, is something that I can not advise you on, but nevertheless, wish you the best for this journey! Chin up!

  8. B Gourley says:

    You’ll get right over your feelings of foreignness once you’ve eaten your first fish head.

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