Intercultural differencies Rena Matsumoto

Culture shock

We don’t have any chance to escape culture shock while we stay abroad. Of course, I experienced that when I stayed in the US. First, I was shocked in supermarket when I was said, “Hi! How are you?” cheerfully. In Japanese supermarket, every staff looks so calm and quiet while working so it’s sure they never say “Hi! How are you?” Because of that, I couldn’t reply to them soon after I started to stay in the US. Second, Culture shock happened when I spent time with my dorm’s friends who came from Europe. One of that is that they hug and kiss as greeting with their close friends. I didn’t know so I was said, “Oh, you don’t kiss.” I wondered if he might think I don’t think him as a good friend. Because of stresses caused by these situations, I was so tired and didn’t feel like to go out from my room for a few weeks.

How to overcome

However, I tried to speak to coworkers at my internship company and dorm’s friends in diner time a lot. Of course, it was really exhausting but I stood it. After that, I got to find they are same as me and I got to open mind so I could get used to culture there and I got skill that I can take new culture I face in me as own culture. As Janet Bennett says in textbook’s article, patience and flexibility are the keys to overcoming culture shock.


It’s clear that Japanese are collectivism. Even I think so. I felt that before coming of age after party, a friend said, “What kind of dresses are you going to wear? I don’t want to be different from everybody.” When I heard of it, I really thought Japanese loves collectivism. Why don't they try to stand out? What’s interesting when everybody wears same clothes? I want to be fashionable so I went to wear a gorgeous white dress. Soon after I entered in the room, as I expected, everyone wore black normal dresses I found. That was so boring, wasn’t it? However, unfortunately, Japanese culture is collectivism, so I won’t say individualism is better. When I do something important, I have to be collectivism. For instance, in working, I might not feel comfortable if there is someone who stirs up things. But it’s good that we are individualism within common sense.


In Japan, politeness is really important. For example, we have to use polite Japanese to older people even one year older. I have had a question of it. What’s a difference by just only one year? That’s why I like English is more casual. The more casual our conversation is, the closer our relationship is. Caused by that, American likes joking and I can get closer with them soon.

However, it’s a problem as people who are in English speakers’ society that it’s difficult we have to show respect sometimes. I have a friend who has worked in a company in the US. He didn’t know they must use “Good morning, sir” to bosses who have high positions because everyone usually uses “Hi”. So English doesn’t lack politeness and we have to know how to show politeness to people who we really respect.


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