Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Entering Stage 2

As part of our orientation, we got to learn about culture shock. There are apparently four different phases:
1. Euphoria--everything is awesome! There's nothing bad about the place you're visiting.
2. Low point--everything is strange and different. Nothing is familiar. Really you just want to lock yourself in your room or fly home.
3. Adaptation--you still have some bad spots, but things are starting to come together. You're adapting to a new culture and language even if you haven't become a part of it yet.
4. Acceptance--now you really can appreciate the culture. You feel comfortable in your new environment, and you start to see the world from your host culture's point of view.

Right now, I've hit stage two.

Yesterday, we met our host families and moved in so we're all separated from each other until a group trip tomorrow. I hate it. Don't get me wrong. My host family is very nice, and my host mom even speaks English (I'll get to that later). However, I'm suddenly without my cushion of Americans to fall back on when I need something familiar. I don't have a phone yet so they're all cut off from me. Really, I'm not so much unhappy as lost, confused, and uncomfortable. Plus, I feel like my Japanese is totally inadequate.

More on my host family though. My host father is a businessman and therefore absent. I doubt I will see him much at all. I won't even meet him until sometime in October. He's 32. My host mom is 29. She wanted to host a student because she studied in England and stayed with a family there (thus the English). She's very nice and seems to be a bit less traditional than I was prepared for. She still won't let me help with the dishes though. Not yet anyway. However, in some ways I wish she didn't speak English. I would learn faster though these first days would definitely be harder. Whenever, I pause to think about what she's saying in Japanese she immediately translates to English. I am trying to speak mostly Japanese though. Then I have a little brother who is not quite 2 and very adorable. He already speaks better Japanese than me. Actually I feel most comfortable around him as there's less pressure to be anything but a playmate.

Today, I'm going to get my alien registration and then a bit of sightseeing with my host mom's cousin. I can't wait for tomorrow when I get to rejoing the Japan study group for a day.

Sorry this post is a bit of a downer, but I'm a bit lonely right now. The plus is I seem to have found a wireless network that I can use without a password. Don't expect me to be on a lot though since I'll mostly be out during reasonable times for you guys. As I get into a more settled routine, perhaps I will set up individual times where I'll make sure to be online.......

Ja ne.


Anonymous said...


We miss you terribly! I love you dearly and hope you start feeling better soon. Let me know if you want to talk.
Hunter is trapped in the desk! He is so cute! He is behind a glass door and is just being so funny.

Margaret said...

Hey Mary,
I know exactly what you mean about stage 2. If it's any consolation, the establishment of a routine really helps you move past it. I think my stage 2 was a few days. Of course that was more due to my homework stress than being in a new culture. Nevertheless, you are AMAZING at Japanese, so will get comfortable quicker than it seems like. The fact that you are speaking more Japanese than English to your host mother shows just how dedicated to this experience you are; if nothing else, take courage from that. I miss you and am sending you lots and lots of virtual hugs!! This stage will pass, don't worry!

Love ya!

Ashley said...

Oh my dearest,

Remember that though this may be the most rewarding experience of your life, it will probably also be the hardest. I know it's hard to see now, but think of how much you'll grow. In yourself as a student, IR major, and even as a woman. We all have faith in you back here and we miss you every day. The only thing that gets us through is knowing that you are doing something extraordinary!

I love you.


Anonymous said...


I miss writing you long letters. I don't think I can say anything to make you feel any better right now, but just know that I love you and can't wait to see you in April!

Love and hugs!