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May 9, 2018

Moving to Japan in a few weeks, what to expect?

Hey everyone! I’m moving to Nagoya in a few weeks like to take up a job teaching English as a foreign language. Re-locating on my own, I know little Japanese and no one in Japan.. yet! I was wondering what can I expect like culture shock wise? How did you adjust? What challenges will be the most testing?

Rebekah

Rebekah

My name is Rebekah, I’m 25 and moving to Nagoya then to Fukui City in a few weeks time to teach English as a foreign language Japan has been my dream since I was a child and I’m finally making it happen! Would love some advice on lots of different things about adjusting to living in Japan!

7 Answers



  • Tomuu

    on May 9

    Nagoya! Very exciting! In terms of challenges, I think initially a lot will depend on how helpful your employer is. If they are going to walk you through the process of getting a place to live, getting your Residence Card, mobile phone e.t.c then, in my experience, that's going to be a huge help, and will leave you to largely concentrate on taking all the new experiences in. However, whatever the culture shocks and challenges you might face in Japan (and there will likely be variations depending on who you ask), again in my experience, its those people that face up to them early on that seem to most enjoy their time in Japan. That said, there's no need to deal with everything all at once -- take it one thing at a time. I found a lot of help through coworkers during my early days in Japan. Another good source of help for me was from a "nihongo kyoushitsu" -- kind of community center / volunteer-run language classes. They're usually free and will take on any level of learner. Anyway, the point here is that through these classes you'll get to meet other foreigners living in the area and also, the volunteer teachers are usually happy to answer your questions about living in Japan and how to get things done. They can be so kind it's almost heartbreaking. Another thing worth mentioning, and something that might be shared by many people who are just starting out living / working abroad (Japan or anywhere else), is that you sometimes get this feeling of if someone were to offer you a ticket back home, you'd take it. I think this is something you've just got to push through, and while I don't know how long you're planning to stay for, I've found that if you concentrate on, say, a one-year term, you'll find that this time will fly by really fast. Ultimately though, don't get bogged down in too much thinking, just concentrate on enjoying things.

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  • helloalissa

    on May 10

    I remember it feeling super overwhelming at the beginning because there was a waiting period to get into my (company set up) apartment, so I felt homeless, plus I had to figure out getting a phone set up (and many other things) on my own with limited Japanese. Unlike Tomuu, I never felt like I wanted to go home. I loved my first year working as an ALT, even the frustrating and difficult things were funny to me, in a way. My students made me laugh every day. My words of advice are to take care of your mental health (be it making friends or staying in touch with people back home), learn Japanese to make life easier (if you haven't already started, I recommend now), and don't be scared to ask for help. It's a lot like becoming a little kid again, but one who is expected to act like a grown up, without the ability to speak yet.

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  • genkidesu

    on May 13

    I found for me it was more of a shock moving from city to country here in Japan than it was moving to Japan in the first place. I was in Tokyo for 4 years and now live in Niigata Prefecture, and Tokyo in many ways can feel like any big city in the world. I've never lived in Nagoya or Aichi, but have traveled there, and I loved it as a city. People here are for the most part very polite, and very friendly. I'd highly recommend checking sites like Meetup for get togethers if you're trying to establish a friend netowrk. https://www.meetup.com/ja-JP/topics/expat/jp/nagoya/?country=jp&zipstatecity=nagoya&state=&radius=25 Looks like Nagoya already has a pretty pumping Meetup community, so you might find something geared to your hobbies and interests there. Finding friends and building a community is one of the best things you can do! Also - I've lived here 5 years and my Japanese is still atrocious, but it hasn't hindered my enjoyment or love for Japan.

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  • Jackson

    on May 15

    One thing to expect is that what people say might have a hidden meaning. Someone saying that 'I might go there if I have time' often mean they aren't interested, and if you gave an idea and someone says 'it's not bad but I need to think about it' is commonly a rejection. Also, expect for a good chance of a sudden depression you hit you 6 months into your time here. It's just all the stress built up and feeling of not-belonging that might come around to you. If it happens, just understand that it is a normal thing that many people will go through and get through, and this seemingly random depression will return on occasions too. Find yourself a good network and have people to support you through those emotional times.

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  • Jackson

    on May 15

    (And when I said 'find a network', I do include us as we are supporting each other here as well ;) )

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  • genkidesu

    on Jun 4

    Just checking in since you're probably in Japan now - how are you settling in? Hopefully you're finding a groove and getting used to day to day life here. Keep posting if you have questions!

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  • Heath320

    on Jun 5

    I saw on your bio that you are going to eventually move to Fukui. I use to live next to Fukui prefecture. I never made it to the city but I went to the beaches and they were amazing. I thought the prefecture was a very lovely place. For cultural shock I just came in knowing that things were going to be different and took things one day at a time. It is really good to just get out and explore everything that you can. I feel like getting out of my apartment and seeing things really helped me adjust to living here.

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