Hi everybody! This is Eli.
I am back in Japan after six months in Italy and this time I’m based in Sapporo, Hokkaido. I’ve seen snow in April. Recently me and my friends here have been rejoicing about the fact that spring is finally coming, and the temperatures have been getting warmer.
In the period between the third year of my bachelor’s degree and the second year of my master’s degree I have been traveling back and forth from Italy many times, often for long periods. This is the fifth time I’ve had to move countries in three years, and even though I am slowly getting used to it, it’s still very tiring.
Those of you who have been abroad might have seen this graph before:
(Source : Finding Your Feet - Cultural Adjustment)
Yes, it’s the infamous culture shock curve. I first saw it when I was studying in Tokyo for six months in 2015. Back then, mine had been a very rocky start. Even though all of my friends were also studying in Tokyo I missed how we could not see each other as much as when we were in Italy, and it was a little bit hard to adapt to the new environment. However, I met the boy who would become my boyfriend a few months later, and from there my (very appropriately) honeymoon phase began.
It was then that I decided that I absolutely had to go back to Japan again. After staying a year in Italy with frequent visits to Japan, I moved to Tokyo again for another longer period of exchange. It was then that my “culture shock” phase truly began.
When I was in Tokyo in 2016, things were really different from the previous time. For starters, I lived in a share house. The dorm I was in before was pretty terrible - we had to be back by 9.45! However, life in the share house somehow turned to be worse. The house was horrible and the people were not always so nice.
University was kind of shocking as well. The zemi I ended up going to had nothing to do with what I wanted to study. I ended up taking a lot of classes from another department, but it was hard to make friends there since we didn’t really share a lot of time together. I joined a club, but everybody was younger (1st to 3rd year students). And while age itself might not be a problem, the fact that I was a master student and not a bachelors student made me feel kind of weird. Also, the other foreign students were pretty much focused on travelling and having the most “Japanese” experience possible while I didn’t really care about that, because I already had some kind of experience. All I genuinely wanted to do was to make some friends.
I also started working, since I wasn’t receiving a scholarship. I had never done any part time job in my life, and I began with a very hard one in a French restaurant – which I dropped after only three months. Luckily, I soon found another part time job which was way more suited to me. It took me a little but eventually I got used to it and I started liking going to work. Towards the final period of my stay in Tokyo I was doing two part-time jobs and I was really satisfied with my life.