It’s the Little Things in Life

Obviously, when traveling across the ocean to live on the other side of the world, you find that things tend to be quite different. Sure there are the obvious differences you find here in Japan, like temperature being measured in Celsius, the use of the metric system and driving on the left side of the road.

However, there are so many little things that I’ve noticed that I find rather interesting. Here are some unexpected differences that I found while living in Tokyo!

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No Smiling: It’s a London Thing

Being from Southern California, I’m used to smiling. I smile at my 65-year old neighbor walking her dog, the young store clerk as he hurriedly puts my groceries in my bag and just about anyone I encounter on my daily routine. I thought smiling was a widely accepted gesture in all parts of the world—I was wrong.

Not even a day into my study abroad program in London, my preconceived notions were immediately shattered. Nobody smiles here. If you did try to smile, you would be greeted with scowling looks from the locals. And that’s exactly what happened to me on my first day in London.

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The World of Food in Tokyo

食べ物、食品、食堂、レストラン。

All of these words have one thing in common; they are all related to food. Food is an important part of any culture, so it seems appropriate to discuss my experience with the food here in Japan.

My last supper in America was leftover food I had from The Cheesecake Factory. Eleven and a half hours later, my world of food had changed completely.

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Alone in Japan

There is so much I have experienced and learned in just my first few days of living in Tokyo, but I would first like to mention that this whole trip was made possible mainly through the funding I received from the Gilman Scholarship.

Anyway, now that I am here, I would like to give an organized mess of my initial thoughts of being in this country. Having never traveled or left home before, my thoughts and feelings may be a little sporadic.

Here goes:

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The Experience

I write this on Feb. 23. I’ve officially been here for more than a month. That’s more than a month of school, more than a month of being around the people, more than a month of getting used to the area.

It’s enough time to reflect on what I have been through since I arrived here in mid January. It’s enough time to really understand what it’s like to live here, to realize what I miss (and maybe don’t miss) from back home in California. The daily life, the night life, the food, whatever it is. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the whole experience right now. And I’m going to share that with you.

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First Impressions of New Place

I started writing this on a United Airlines airplane, slowly realizing that I was heading to a new home with only five recognizable faces for the next six months. Things will be difficult – getting adjusted, learning the language, and figuring out Chinese culture. I did not know what to think, except to think about the faces of my loved ones back home. As I arrived in Shanghai, 14 hours later, I was immediately anxious to see China and my Chinese brothers and sisters.

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