Let me introduce Chloe, who recently packed up her American life as a second-grade teacher in Florida and moved across the world to teach English in Japan for a year. She attended the University of Central Florida in Orlando and worked for Seminole County Public Schools. During her first two years of teaching, she also worked towards and received her Masters of Education in Reading Education.
You all are welcome to be a part of her cultural journey after she landed in a totally different world.
While editing a piece of writing from a small letter to a novel, we think about our grammar and word choice. Continually making revisions and edits from the microscopic addition of a word to a complete restructuring of our paragraphs and sentences. During the writing process, we tweak and tweak until we have reached perfect and even then, we have regrets.
The editing process of writing is much similar to adjusting to a new culture. From the massive time adjustment to just altering the way you dress so you fit in. Embracing a new culture is much like editing a piece of writing.
Just as you move the cursor of your word document or eraser of your pencil, a person in a new culture makes similar adjustments.
You begin to change your day-to-day living. One small adjustment to Japan was the way that they use electricity. They are very conscious and conservative about their energy use. Here, they turn everything on/off. Do not reach to shake a hand when you meet someone, bow respectfully.
Japan is 11,775 km from Florida, but somehow, I feel worlds away. Like an alien in this foreign place. I didn’t realize how different I would look from the people surrounding me and how our customs would vary so much. It is not even just the fact that I have blonde hair and an olive tint to my skin that makes me stand out. When I meet people, I extend my right hand, when I pay for things, I place my cash or card on the counter. These are all different from what is the custom in Japan.
When you meet someone, you bow. When you pay, you place your card or money into this holder where the cashier can grab it from. Also, if my obviously not a part of this culture look didn’t give me away enough, also don’t speak the language.
The other day while waiting to cross the street, a man sneezed and I so naturally turned and said, “Bless you” … He looked at me like I had 5 heads. It’s amazing how each culture has formed their own niceties and politeness. No one here reacts to sneezing, and they don’t hold doors open, even if you are coming up to them while walking a bicycle. Our western normalcies are vastly different from here. I had not realized until this moment how truly different people could be.
As I learn these small differences and pick up on the customs of this culture, I continue to edit myself. Deleting (for now) my American habits and changing the words to coincide with that of this culture.
Small edit here, add a comma there. Slowly, I will adjust to this culture and begin to meld into it.
Follow along as I adjust to a foreign world,