Japan

Culture Shock and Christmas

At Tokyo Orientation, one of the speakers told us about the various stages of culture shock:

Stage 1: Euphoria (“Japan is AWESOME!”)

Stage 2: Culture shock (hostility, irritation, depression, anxiety, homesickness)

Stage 3: Acceptance (adjusting to life in Japan)

Stage 4: Adaptation

I am currently in Stage 3. The past two months have not been smooth sailing, but I am glad to say that I have emerged on the other side of the storm. Most of my problems have been resolved by taking control of the professional side of my life and moulding my job into something that I enjoy.

As you may expect, one of the many challenges in the past two months has been Christmas. Last year I insisted to my parents that I no longer enjoyed Christmas. I now believe that until you experience being in a country that does not celebrate Christmas (eating KFC and cream cake does not count as celebrating Christmas), you cannot truly say whether or not you could live without it. In this respect, I am grateful for this experience of Christmas away from my family.

On Christmas Day, I used some of my paid leave in the afternoon as I had no work to do, and prepared for an evening with friends. It was a warm day and I danced around my apartment to Christmas carols with all the doors and windows open whilst cooking vegetables. We all brought a dish and a present to the party and had a lovely evening, but it did not feel like Christmas. Strangely, the most Christmassy I felt was on 30th December. My best friend had just arrived in Japan and we were invited to a Japanese family’s house to make mochi. We ate an enormous amount, started drinking at 10:30, danced around the kitchen to Japanese and Latin American music and enjoyed each other’s company. The fact that Christmas is much more about atmosphere than food or presents is something that I will never forget, and will never take for granted.

Here’s to positive thinking, an exciting 2014, and many more adventures! Happy New Year to you all.

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