Archive for the ‘japan’ Category
11 July, 2012 – 5:06 pm | Filed under japan, thesis | No Comments »
I just finished writing an article for JETAADC‘s annual returnee handbook, which they give to all JET Programme participants who are returning to the greater Washington, DC area. This is obviously applicable to JET returnees everywhere, but geared towards American participants. In the spirit of all the writing I did in my Japan journal while I was abroad, and in light with the fact that this essentially summarizes my master’s thesis, I thought I’d include it here.
“Every situation is different” isn’t quite behind you yet.
I didn’t know if I should begin with that bombshell, or with a more traditional reverse culture shock rundown. But the above is important to realize: there’s no singular, defined experience you’ll have when you return. It’s not over yet!
Also, brace yourself: there’s a bit of a roller coaster ahead. What makes this more intense than the culture shock you may have experienced when starting JET is that in many cases, you’re going home, to a place you know pretty well. Sometimes these moments of reverse culture shock will hit you when you least expect it, when you think you’ll feel settled and at home instead.
Think of reverse culture shock as a disconnect between the actual and the perceived: what home is and how you had viewed it, and—most importantly—who you were when you started JET and who you have become. Stepping out of your home culture while in Japan taught you about yourself and your cultural identity. Now it’s time to reflect on all this again, and to think about your emotions, thoughts, actions, and values that have shifted unexpectedly but indelibly. You can pinpoint and anticipate some of them, but others will make themselves known to you only after your return.
The process of readjustment is basically the same as with initial culture shock:
disengaging from the place you’re leaving,
euphoria once you arrive in the new place,
hostility once the perceived-actual disconnect hits you,
and reconciliation as you begin to settle in.
It’s that 3rd step that’s the hardest to deal with, especially if you dropped roots in Japan. Why is this happening? Why do these things not feel right anymore? Sometimes, these feelings even become strong enough within some people that they result in symptoms of depression if they aren’t treated. If you’re prone to that, or even if you aren’t, be aware of yourself, and don’t hesitate to reach out to get help getting through any rough points.
The biggest thing that many returnees benefit from or wish for is surprisingly simple: somebody to talk to. If you feel lonely or frustrated, reach out to the JET community, via a JETAA chapter or online. There’s such comfort and power in the phrase, “I know how you feel.” Even if you’re isolated geographically, you are not alone.
It’s not all bad, obviously—it’s just important to be realistic about what’s coming. But throughout, do stay positive, keep an open mind, and go with the flow. You’re wrapping up an incredible, life-changing adventure, and are moving on to a new one! Just know that there may be moments of irritation and frustration, but no matter where you are, keep moving forward. It’s easier said than done, but think warmly on the past without dwelling on it.
I would strongly urge you to document your experiences. If you’re still in Japan as you read this, take photos of everything you can, even the mundane things like items at the grocery stores, signs, and so on. Once you get back, consider keeping up a diary or personal chronicle for yourself, to help process your readjustment.
The greatest thing about returning is that the second phase of your identity as a JET participant begins. You can embrace all the good things about your time in Japan, and share them with everyone you encounter (you’ll be bubbling over with “when I was in Japan…” stories for months, if not years). Just as we were agents of grassroots internationalization in Japan, we’re now grassroots Japanese ambassadors, and can share the real Japan with our friends, family, and acquaintances. More importantly, ideally we all have a more nuanced and open-minded view of the world, and can move forward with heightened awareness of our greater human family. Embrace that—it’s an amazing gift.
And above all, I hope you have a wonderful time. Otsukaresama!
27 March, 2010 – 10:46 pm | Filed under japan | 1 Comment »
As part of my efforts to make sure I have a life while in grad school, I started looking for JET Programme alum contacts in Pittsburgh around the time I moved here last year. After some online correspondences where we started talking about reinstating the long-dormant JET Alumni Association sub-chapter in Pittsburgh (“sub-chapter,” not “chapter,” because it falls under the NYC chapter, which spans New York and Pennsylvania), several of us finally met at an information session for the JET Programme hosted by the University of Pittsburgh. It was there that we started talking about finally making this thing official.
So four of us appointed ourselves officers (I’m vice president and eventual webmaster, but these titles are really formalities), and met over dinner late last year to start discussing possible plans for stuff…and then we got really, really busy.
But finally we threw together a basic icebreaker event at a local cafe and notified the ~20 JET alums we’d tracked down around Pittsburgh. In total, including 3 officers, 7 alums and a few spouses/fiances (representing Hokkaido, Honshu [Tohoku, Kanto, Chugoku, and Kansai], and Shikoku) came out tonight. It was a huge success – I think everyone had a pretty good time, and we’re now looking forward to enjoying the beautiful nature under the sakura trees with a hanami (a cherry-blossom-time picnic) and potluck in a couple of weeks. ;)
JETAA Pittsburgh is officially off the ground, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
9 March, 2010 – 2:24 pm | Filed under commentary, daily life, japan, school, web | No Comments »
Spring break is here! It’s not super-relaxing, but it’s nice to not have stressful deliverables hanging over my head, for once. I still haven’t gotten to actually see any of the “touristy” stuff around Pittsburgh, but getting out and enjoying the warm(er) weather and wandering a bit around Oakland and Shadyside has been really nice. I’ve walked around 7 miles in the last 2 days–not a ton, but it’s more than I’ve done in a long time (though I probably balanced it out with that chai from Caribou and that amazing ice cream from Oh Yeah!…). If not for a meeting I have with my new thesis advisor this afternoon, I would definitely make it out to the Mattress Factory or the Carnegie Museum of Natural History or something.
What actually prompted me to post something in here, though, was the Gchat status message of my friend Shuby:
Yelp took my review away! Weirdos.
I’d heard a fair amount about the controversy surrounding Yelp already, both the original East Bay Express story and the more recent allegations of extortion. I used to be a really big fan of theirs–the idea of an online review feature with vetting and such a generally positive vibe really appealed to me–but after this recent news, I scaled back heavily and just sort of “hovered,” but didn’t use them so actively anymore.
But talking to Shuby revealed that a negative review of hers had been pulled; it was still visible on her profile, but no longer visible publicly. That was the final straw for me, and I e-mailed Yelp to have them delete my account, with an explanation of why. It’s one thing when there are these faraway allegations with some random website you aren’t extremely invested in that occur with people you have no relation to, and it’s easy (or easier) to brush them off. When it happens to a friend, though, that’s something else.
Anyway, in other news, let’s see…
Like I mentioned, I do have a thesis advisor for next year–yay! He’s the professor who taught our Design Studio last semester, and we’ve struck up this great rapport and had some good conversations about our similar international experiences (he grew up in the Philippines and is very well-traveled, and like me, he doesn’t identify with being completely American or completely from the country of his birth). I also have a secondary advisor–my fantastic Global Communication professor (who’s from Romania), and I’m considering assembling a “committee”-of-sorts, involving relevant HCI and Psychology faculty. Most importantly, though, I do have a tentative thesis topic in mind: developing a resource to assist JET Programme participants upon the completion of their time in Japan, and particularly addressing reverse culture shock, as well as other more administrative things (like pension refunds and the like).
I like the topic, but I feel guilty for going back to “the Japan thing” yet again. I’m sure I’ve driven my housemates and all my classmates–not to mention all my friends back home–crazy with how often I still bring it up, over two years after the fact, but I guess it’s a real case of “you can take the ALT out of Japan, but…” with me. I was fortunate enough to have a great experience that has impacted and changed me…however, the return process was rough, and very difficult at times. Reverse culture shock did really impact me for a solid year after coming back, in small and big ways–and I’m far from the only one. I’m also not the only one who felt unprepared for what Life After Japan would be like.
Anyway, I’m meeting my advisor this afternoon to just touch base and see where to go from here. I may also broach the subject of focusing on something similar but not Japan-related–I was thinking of doing something to help international Indian students when they arrive in the US, but my Global Comm professor advised me against it because she said I, as an Indian, would be “too close” to the subject matter and may not be able to be purely objective. (She only found out 5 minutes later, though, that I’ve only been back to India twice, my first time being when I was 18.)
I’ve also been doing some web work, but not the “for fun” kind…though I find the challenge of constructing a site in standards-compliant XHTML and CSS to always be fun, so it’s rarely “not fun.” I’m redesigning the blog/website of my studio group, and as part of my assistantship, I’m helping to architect and build a site with information about some of the technical resources the School of Design has, and I’m also helping to develop a guide with information for incoming grad students that can be a reference for current students. That should be pretty cool–hopefully it’ll come to fruition by the end of this term, but if not, I volunteered to help out over the summer (wherever I’ll be…). Maybe eventually I’ll find the time to finish implementing the redesign of my website, too (and moving it over to the new web space I purchased last week for much cheaper than my current host)…
Anyway, time to get my day going–meetings, wandering around, and packing! I’m off to Atlanta tomorrow for just a couple of days, to run errands, see family and friends, and pick up my car. Hope you all enjoy the rest of your week!
14 October, 2009 – 1:40 am | Filed under Tags: design studio, information design, japan, latch, map, music, self portrait assignments, design, japan, personal | No Comments »
30 June, 2008 – 8:52 pm | Filed under astronomy, design, japan | No Comments »
Brand New recently covered the newly redesigned logo for the Sendai Astronomical Observatory in Sendai, the capitol of Miyagi Prefecture and one of the major cities of northeastern, Japan. It’s rare that a brand campaign makes me sit up in my seat and blurt, “Gorgeous!” but this one did, in its simplicity and the brilliance of its execution, in how gracefully it handled the bilingual depiction of the name (nice, sleek typeface for the kanji, too!), and in drawing out “hidden” astronomical imagery from everyday items. The rendition of a gas giant and its rings in the curve of a cup and saucer is deliciously wonderful.