Since it's officially the end of October (oh, my) and I've now been here for two months, I think I can finally write my post about culture shock that I've been playing around with in my head for a while.
Firstly, though, updates on my life! Things are moving more and more quickly it seems. October flew right out the window and it feels like I never saw it come or go. We had a great field trip to Kanazawa (a really new post, if you haven't seen it) and I've become oriented with my living situation, friends, and classes. I'm pretty settled, I suppose (did I really just say that?). Now is the time we start thinking that the end is approaching, though, which has turned into quite the depressing thought. If time keeps moving this quickly, I'm not sure I'll remember any of what I've done in Japan! But that's enough of that, I'll focus on what's actually going on here and now.
Before coming to Japan (or abroad in general) I was probably prepped about ten times for culture shock I was bound to experience. Everyone warned me about it. Coming here, of all places, I was really worried about not being able to adjust or completely falling victim to culture shock. That's why Japan itself is probably the only reason why I really don't know if I've experienced culture shock to this day.
My good friend Merriam Webster defines culture shock as: a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation.
Based on that definition, it's hard to decide whether I feel the effects of culture shock all the time or if I've never felt them at all. Of course, everything is different and shocking. I'm confused and uncertain daily. Anxiety was definitely present in the beginning. These people seem like aliens. But, I think I had adequate preparation. I mean, coming from the United States to an Asian country isn't going to be an easy thing. I knew that. I guess what I thought culture shock would include is a breaking point. A thought in my head saying "I just want to go home." Not that I don't think that when I see pictures from homecoming weekend at Villanova or skype with my friends back home. I just don't think about it all the time. It's something I miss, then go about my daily life here. Japan has become somewhat (extra emphasis on the somewhat) normal to me. It's my temporary home.
All in all, the conclusion that I think I've come to since my first day here thinking about culture shock, is that I've had way too much of it. I'm numb to it. Oh, so if I ask someone to do something, they can't say no? Which means I shouldn't say no either? Of course. And direct statements are frowned upon? I guess I won't be speaking to anyone.
Learning to cope with a new culture is not an easy task. Again, I'm reminded of this daily. But if you know you're getting yourself in way over your head, there isn't anything to be scared of. That's something that's inspired me a whole lot while I've been here. If I can take on one culture, imagine what I could find in all the others. Yes, all the others. I think I might be addicted to the thought of the unknown. To new places and people I have yet to learn about, let alone coincide with. If anything, I'm thankful for all the differences I've been introduced to because it's helped me realize what I like and dislike about my culture, while sparking a fire within me to find everything else that is out there.
I've always fallen in love with places too quickly and too easily. After returning from a 2 day excursion to a new place, I preach for weeks about how I've found my new home. I can't tell you how many times the phrase "I'm going to live here one day," has come out of my mouth. And now, because of Japan, I think this disease has gotten much worse. So watch out world, I'm coming for you.