Our Homestay Coordinator, Cassidy McAllister, had the opportunity to live in Japan for seven years. In this blog, she elaborates on some of the experiences and observations she made while living abroad.
When I first
returned to the United States after living in Japan for four years, to say I
was overwhelmed would be an understatement. Although I had lived in America for
about half of my life at this point, I had forgotten a lot about the country
including the basic everyday culture and what living here was like. I expect
that Japanese visitors in America will feel similarly about the differences
between the two countries as I did. Many things about America that we consider
to be normal and everyday things are a novelty to the Japanese, just as their
everyday culture is to us. The Japanese are often fascinated with American
culture which can be represented through its presence in their modern culture;
the presence of Disney Land, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, and other popular American
food chains which can be found throughout Tokyo. I speak from personal experience, but these
are some of the things that I found exciting upon returning to America and
things your visitor might also enjoy:
1) Pizza: In Japan a large pizza from
Pizza Hut ranges from $30 to $40 versus the regular $10 to $20 price range here
in America. From my experience, pizza was a special food that was eaten on
occasion and as a result it was considered to be very exciting. Your Japanese
visitors will most likely be enthused at the idea of eating pizza and will be
amazed at all of the options offered. In Japan, the toppings are very different
and it is not uncommon to have corn or mayonnaise on a pizza as a regular
Activity: Take your visitor out to pizza and allow them to
choose which type of pizza they would like. As I said, the toppings are very
different in America and they will most likely be excited to try a new type.
Better yet, make a pizza with your student and allow them to top it however
they would like.
Malls: Shopping malls do not exist in Japan and your visitor will most
likely find it exciting to have so many shops in a large building complete with
plenty of American food for them to try. In Japan, shops are as you would see
frequently in Boston, on the street lined up.
Suggested Activity: Take your visitor to a shopping
mall and visit the food court! Again, these do not exist in Japan so they will
be excited and unfamiliar with the concept.
Stores and Food Choices: Based on my experience with grocery stores in
Japan, they are significantly larger here in America. Not only are they larger,
they have greater varieties of each type of food. I can recall the biggest
shocker for me was spending hours in a grocery store marveling at the fact that
there were over 10 different flavors of Oreos. IN the eyes of many Japanese,
America is a country of overabundance, which is reflected simply in our grocery
Activity: Take your visitor to the grocery store and let them pick out
the type of cookies or ice cream they’d like. They will likely be overwhelmed
with the number of choices and be excited to try some of the crazy flavors.
to these, here are some other things your visitor might be surprised or
Size Difference: In Japan, homes are often smaller and more modest. America
tends to have larger homes and the concept of having a pool in one’s backyard
is unheard of in Japan.
Sizes: When I returned back from Japan, I was appalled at the gigantic
sizes of portions here in America. I remember ordering a large and receiving a
huge bucket of a cup which I was not expecting. I can safely say that a large
in Japan is equivalent to a size small or sometimes medium here in America.
Japan is all about moderation, America is all about overabundance.
Plates: In Japan, one often orders many smaller plates at a restaurant for
dinner. The concept of a dinner plate does not exist as we know it here in
America, where an entrée and several sides are all piled onto one single large
plate. This goes in hand with our increased portion sizes here, but this concept
might overwhelm the Japanese and seem excessive.
in Restaurants: In Japan, despite their exceptional service, there is no
Machines: In Japan, vending machines are a lot more advanced than here in
America. My experience with vending machines here is having a few options for
cold beverages that sometimes don’t even come out of the machine because it is
defective. This is not the case in Japan. There are hot beverages, beer, and
even hot ready-made food. They have it down to a science. Even funnier, vending
machines can be found absolutely anywhere and everywhere, including near the
top of Japan’s highest mountain Mount Fuji as shown in the image below.
We hope that by reading about Cassidy's experiences, you as a host can understand Japanese culture, and your Japanese visitor!
What experiences have you had with Japanese homestay students? What are your favorite activities to do with your visitor? Let us know!