Adjusting to a New City

Japan is a diverse country, and every city has its own unique vibe and flow. Discovering the flow of your new city can be challenging, especially if you don’t read any Japanese. Street signs and advertising for everyday things become exotic intrigue. How long this feeling lasts depends on how often you venture out. A lot of expats make the mistake of not getting to know the city in which they live, and this leads to a feeling of not belonging. Learning what your city has to offer will help you feel at home and keep culture shock and homesickness to manageable levels.

Japan has amazing public transportation and public transportation maps. All you need is to know your destination’s stop. Another great thing about Japan is that businesses include public transportation directions in their advertising. A quick search of expat resource sites offers a great starting point, and every city in Japan has a temple to visit. When visiting temples and shrines, be sure to walk around the neighborhood; there is always more to see, and most shrines have at least one restaurant within walking distance. Most restaurants in Japan have plastic models of the food in a glass case at the front of the restaurant. The great thing about the plastic models is that literally no Japanese is required to get a great meal in even the most remote cities. Simply select your meal from one of the models and then motion to the waitress to follow you outside and point. This may sound ridiculous, but, speaking from personal experience, it works.

Don’t be afraid to walk around your neighborhood in search of your places of comfort. Nothing beats knowing your neighborhood for creating a sense of belonging. Getting to know your neighborhood is free and doesn’t require you to speak a word of Japanese. Too many expats don’t venture out because of shame or fear associated with not speaking Japanese. This shame that expats feel about not speaking Japanese creates unnecessary stress and isolation. Live life as a perpetual tourist and take pictures of cool and interesting finds when out exploring. Connect with your neighborhood by venturing into shops and eating at restaurants. Explore the areas around train stops and subway stations. Look at everything and be unashamed by natural curiosity. In the end, you will become a part of the neighborhood and soon feel at home.

Posted on 07 Jun 2015 04:28

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