6. Signs of Culture Shock (8/9/2019)

Monday

Most of my day consisted of getting my courses and schedule together, there had been a lot of miscommunication between schools about the courses so I had to pick new ones and drop a few. This had been my main cause of stress for a while, but I finally got everything worked out. So my courses for this autumn are the two mandatory language courses, Japanese Business Management, Introduction to Japanese Cinema, Intercultural Communication and Japanese Communication through Manga and Anime. The latter one is not that much in my interest, even though I have both read manga and watched anime in the recent years. But I decided to pick the course, because it seems to be more chill and there’s not too much work. When eating out with friends, it was clear that I wasn’t the only one who wanted/had to add and drop courses, many others had problems with that as well.

Tuesday

During our big break between classes, me and a few students from the I-house went to Hakata, Canal City to check out some stores and eat lunch at a restaurant. I tried tempura and udon for the first time which was very interesting but so good.. Almost every food here is very tasty! And relatively cheap too, at least compared to Finland. Later on that evening after school I went to Baskin Robbins (american ice cream chain) with a couple of friends. And the rest of my day was mostly just reading to a Japanese test, which has been so weird to me now after not having had these kind of tests since high school. And the amount of homework is actually mentally draining, I sure hope I can find a way to travel more without worrying about this kind of stuff.

Tempura (deep fried shrimp and vegetables) and udon (thick noodles in a soup)

Wednesday

Pretty normal school day, went out during our lunch break with another exchange student and one japanese student to a cheap udon restaurant. Around five o’clock I joined some I-house students and went to the beach to do some beach volleyball, and it was so much fun. And the 30 degree weather didn’t bother too much weirdly enough, I’ve gotten so used to heat so when it’s less than 30 degrees I start to feel like I need to get a jacket or at least a full sleeve shirt haha. But I highly doubt I’ll get used to the humidity, it’s such a pain in the ass when you step outside and your face starts melting basically. The sun doesn’t burn like it does back home, but you sweat so easily here. When the sun went down we started to head back to our apartments and I went so sleep pretty early, going out all day can be tiring.

Thursday

It’s so crazy how the weather changes here so quickly, the sky was pretty clear the whole morning and early afternoon so I decided not to take an umbrella with me. Well, when I went to have coffee with my Japanese friend, a big thunderstorm started outside. But luckily it went away quickly and the sun was shining again. But yes we went to a relatively “fancy” café to eat cheesecake and drink coffee. I mean it looked very expensive, but it wasn’t that bad. I think we got looks from the people from laughing and talking so much,  even though it is not frowned upon in cafés (unlike it is in subways and trains). We’re planning to hang out soon again.

At dinner we got onto very deep subjects about our countries and what kind of issues/problems there are in them. I think we actually sat there for 3 hours straight talking with each other after finishing eating, but that’s about the only time we can properly talk during schooldays. I joined two other girls in one’s room to play Mario Kart 8 on Switch until it was pretty late. But it was nice to loosen up a little after the very heavy conversation with others.

Friday

My school day was only 1,5 hours long (as it will be on fridays for the whole semester) so after that I took a short nap as I’ve been extremely exhausted from all the school work. Didn’t talk long though for me to text a couple of my friends to ask if they wanted to go to Tenjin (downtown). We spent the rest of the day there shopping and eating out. When we were having dinner, the two of them started talking about how they believe they are experiencing a culture shock right now. One of them had had panic attacks for a few days about being so far away and having stress about the language barrier. The other one had started crying a lot while calling her parents and friends on Skype. It was clear to me that this was the case as I experienced the same things in my previous exchange. I’m not completely sure but I was really stressed out about the language barrier in the first week, but now I’ve just accepted it that all I can do is to learn as much of the language in my own pace. But I don’t think I’ve experienced a culture shock yet, or it was very mild compared to the one I had in the US. Oh well, at least I can recognize it if/when it happens.

Weird caps for cats, had to buy one just for fun (got the pineapple)

Saturday

In the morning my tutor Chika and her boyfriend came to pick me up to go to the Marine World (aquarium). It was pretty far away so we went there by his car. It was a very cool place to visit, saw many sea creatures I had never seen or even heard of. At the start there was some kind of show where a woman in scuba gear was in a huge tank with sharks etc., and after that a show with dolphins (and some kind of whale?). And for some reason a part of the show was to get near the big pool (if you wanted to) and the dolphins (and the whale) splashed people with water. People were soaking wet after that haha. After everything we ate at the restaurant they had and I had OF COURSE tonkatsu karee (pork cutlet curry) again, it might be my favorite food here so far. And Chika’s boyfriend ordered shark meat burger, so he wanted me to try that too. It was good! Tasted like chicken tho.

Me and my friend Chloe from my dormy joined with I-house students at the beach again at night, we stayed there talking about stuff until the very early morning.

Photo by Imane (friend), I noticed mine were bad quality after getting home

トンカツカレー (pork cutlet curry)

Sunday

Being out so late came with a cost, I woke up pretty late (2pm) haha. Well, for me the Sundays seem to mostly consist of reading to the tests that we have on Mondays and chat with friends from home. I did do some grocery shopping in the afternoon and got a spatula for the frying pan I got from Chika. I won’t be able to cook that many dishes but at least I can cook some! It’s gotten a bit boring buying bento and other ready-made foods. Before typing this blog post I talked with a couple of friends of mine from home. It’s nice to share what we have done during our week, especially when we’re on the other side of the world.

来週まで (raishūmade)!= Until next week !

– Emma