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Adjusting to American Culture: A Japanese Student's Perspective

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, August 01, 2016

Adjusting to culture in the U.S. can be very difficult, especially if there are a lot of differences between your native culture and the culture here. If you are thinking about coming to the U.S.from abroad or if you are already a visitor here staying in homestay, then it may be helpful for you to read this testimonial from one of our Japanese staff members, Ayano, who experienced many of the same challenges you might also be facing when she came to the U.S. for college after growing up in Japan. Ayano talks about her time spent learning English and provides a few tips for a positive homestay experience!



"Hi everyone, since we have many clients from Japan throughout the year, we would like to talk about some U.S. culture adjustment tips for the future Japanese students who plan to come to the U.S. and Boston. There are two Japanese members in Global Immersions. Inc and our names are Ayano from Tokyo and Gen from Ishikawa. We will share our stories with you through this blog and hope something helps you.


I, Ayano, came to Boston almost 2 years ago and studied leadership in business at Northeastern University. I am doing an internship during my last quarter here at Global Immersions Inc. and I enjoyed my experience here in Boston. I would like to share what I have done for adjusting to life in the U.S.


First and foremost, I thought I should know about some background of the U.S. and especially Boston. I thought it would be important to get knowledge of the culture, geography, and customs. I believed that knowing that information would make it much easier to adjust to a new environment and give me an idea of the culture differences before my arrival.


Second, I studied English as much as I could. Since I was going to the U.S. and had to speak English all the time, it made sense that I should be familiar with English. Knowing English will help you when you arrive. For example, in my case, once I got an acceptance letter from my current college, I tried listening to English songs, radio, and even short news stories such as VOA and CNN Student news. To practice writing, I wrote diary entries in English. Writing often lead me to learn new words, idioms, and phrases. I was not into reading, so I did not try reading books that much, but I wish I could have practiced reading before I got so many reading assignments from the thick textbooks at school. In terms of speaking, I kept taking lessons online. These lessons were very helpful and I was able to adjust my pronunciation and use new words I learned from other resources.


Third, once I arrived in the U.S.  I just started exploring new things. Exploring definitely gave me a broader views of U.S. culture. You may be scared to go out and explore or break out of your shell, however, it is the best way to learn. Coming to the U.S. and doing nothing leads to little discovery during your stay. If you really want to get precious experience here, you need to actively seek out whatever you can!


Next, I want to share how to deal with homesickness and culture shock. What I have done is find ways to experience my own culture when I miss home or people in Japan. Since I have been in the U.S. I try using English to improve my skills, but also sometimes I want to speak my native language and talk with my family and friends. Therefore, what I try to do is to make time for contacting my friends and family and telling them news about my life. I also watch Japanese TV drama or listen to J-pop to feel like I am at home.Doing this makes me very relaxed. You may want to focus on only English, but it can be tiring and stressful. The balance between the two languages is very important. In terms of culture shock, you need to keep in mind that the things you are used to are not the same everywhere in the world, so you need to keep an open-mind. If you watch some American TV shows or movies, you can see the culture differences. Also, you can avoid a large amount of culture shock if you study before your arrival and know what to expect. Having some knowledge of the U.S. shows your respect of the country, as opposed to arriving without any knowledge.



I went to Australia for one month to study English. I was in homestay at that time and had plenty of experiences with my host family. You may feel very anxious, worried, and confused about homestay. Even if this isn’t the first time you have visited a different country, it is common to feel scared. I had exactly same feelings. I could not speak English well and none of my family or friends would help me learn. However, I was excited because I took this as a challenge and hoped it would change me. Although I was shy and introverted during the first few days, I actively communicated with new people at school and talked with my host family even though my English was poor. After the four weeks, my abroad experience completely changed me! I had many friends from many countries, made better conversation with my host family, and even my brain began to work in English. When I thought about something, the words came to me in English before Japanese. Homestay is a very great opportunity to learn culture and English. I would suggest a couple of tips for successful homestay:


  1. If you have any questions, just ask your host and do not hesitate to talk.

  2. Be active during your stay

  3. Set goals for yourself during your stay


When you are not sure about something, just ask your host and solve the problems. They know you are international students and that English is your second language. You do not need to worry about your skills, so just spit the words out!  Also, while you are staying in homestay,  you should not stay in your room and do things by yourself. You can ask your hosts to do something together with you or you can ask your friends to go out. This is how I improved my English skills, so I can tell you that this really works. Furthermore, I would highly recommend setting goals during your stay. When you feel so stressed or lonely, you may avoid speaking English or become shy. However, if you have goals or an ideal image of who you will be after this stay, it will motivate you to study hard and overcome those troubles! Believe in yourself and keep making an effort and in the end you will have a successful stay in the U.S.!"

" 皆さん、こんにちは!現在私達が住んでいるボストンへは、幸運なことに毎年日本からのたくさんの訪問者がいらっしゃいます。そこで今回は、弊社で働く二人の日本人スタッフ、アヤノとゲンがアメリカでの生活にどう適応していったかを、このブログを通して紹介したいと思います。ここに載せた情報が何らかの参考になれば幸いです。

私アヤノは、約二年前にボストンに来てノースイースタン大学でビジネスを勉強していました。学校の最後のタームを利用して、この会社でインターンシップをさせて頂きました。ここでの経験に加え、ボストンでの生活はかけがえのないもので、とても楽しい時間を過ごしました。今回、私がどうやってアメリカ生活に適応していったかをお話したいと思います。

まず始めに、異国の地を訪問するということで、その土地の文化や風習、そして基本的な背景情報を下調べしておくことは必要不可欠であると思います。多少の知識があれば、その地に到着した際にもっと簡単に適応していくことができますし、文化の違いなども見えてくるでしょう。

二点目にあげられるのは英語力強化であると思います。皆さんも海外に行くなら、英語力を身につけるのが高い優先順位であげられることでしょう。英語力を十分につけていくこと以上に楽なことはありませんが、短期間で英語力を伸ばすには限度があります。しかし、何もやらないよりかは多少でも英語に触れておくことは大事なことです。私が大学の合格通知をもらった後に出発までの間に行ったことは、英語のニュース(VOACNN Student News)や洋楽、ラジオを聞いたりしながらネイティブレベルのスピードにならしていく、ということです。ライティングに関しては日記を英語で書き始めるようにし、そこから新たな単語やイディオムなどを習得できた部分もあります。私はあまり読書が好きなタイプではなかったため、あまり洋書を好んで読むことはしませんでした。今思えば、学校でぶ厚い教科書のリーディングの課題が出される前にもっと洋書に読みなれておけばよかったと痛感しています。会話力に関しては、スカイプオンラインの英会話レッスンを毎日25分受けていました。それを使うことで過去に習った単語を使ってみたり、講師の人が発音を直してくれたりするため、インプットとアウトプット両方を鍛えることができました。

三点目はアメリカに到着後のことになりますが、私は何事にも挑戦する精神をもって行動することを心がけていました。それらは私に幅広い視野を与えてくれ、文化の違いなども生活のちょっとしたところで発見できたりします。せっかくアメリカに来て、挑戦することを恐れ自分の殻に引きこもっていたら勿体無いです。何もしないことには何も始まりません。本当に小さなことからでいいので、是非積極的に行動してみてください!

次に、ホームシックやカルチャーショックにどうやって対応していくかについてお話したいと思います。誰しも海外での生活を送る中で、ホームシックやカルチャーショックは感じるものです。私がこれらに打ち勝つために行っていたことは、日本を感じる時間を作る、ということです。もちろんアメリカに居るのだから、英語力をあげるために英語漬けの生活をするのも大切なことです。しかし、たまに日本語で日本に居る友達や家族と連絡をとって近況報告をすることもストレス解消の一つであると思います。それに加え、日本のドラマや音楽を聴いたりしてリラックスする時間を作っています。英語に集中したい気持ちもわかりますが、時に息抜きをしないとストレスになってしまうかもしれません。うまくバランスの取れた生活をすることでストレスを減らし、有意義な生活をすることができることでしょう。カルチャーショックに関しては、全てに対して自分の常識は世界の常識とは異なるということを頭に置き、新たな視点で物事を見ていくことが必要です。そしてアメリカのテレビドラマや映画をみていると、アメリカ独自の文化や風習などを知ることができるので、一番手っ取り早く文化を学ぶことができるのではないでしょうか。何も下調べをしないでいくよりかはカルチャーショックを防ぐことにもつながっていくと思いますし、その国に対する尊敬の意を示すことにもつながっていくことと思います。

私は過去に一ヶ月間オーストラリアで英語を勉強しながらホームステイをしていました。その期間はホストファミリーと多くのことを経験することができました。もしかしたら、あなたもホームステイを選ぶ可能性があり、不安や心配事など様々なことが頭をよぎるかもしれません。もし今回が初めて海外に飛び立つということなら、なおさら皆さんが感じることです。私自身もまったく同じ状況でした。英語は上手に話せないし、誰も助けてくれない環境に身を置くわけであったので不安でいっぱいでした。しかし、私はこれが自分に課せられた大きな挑戦であると考え、この経験が私の中の何かを変えてくれるのではないかと考えるようになりました。初めの数日はとても内気で何をするにも抵抗がありましたが、その後自ら積極的に新しい人と話をしたりホストファミリーとも単語をつなげての乏しい英語で会話をしていきました。しかし、四週間後にはこれらの行動が私をガラッと変えてくれました!日本へ帰国するときには様々な国籍の友達ができ、文単位での会話をホストファミリーともすることができ、さらには私の脳までもが英語脳に変化していきました。何かを考える際に日本語よりも先に英語が頭をよぎるのです。そのとき初めて自分自身でも成長を感じた瞬間でした。ホームステイは英語力やその国の文化を学ぶには最高の場であると思います。ここでいくつか素敵なホームステイ生活を送るためのコツを提案したいと思います。

1.      何かわからないことがあったら遠慮なくホストファミリーに聞くこと

2.      滞在期間は積極的に行動すること

3.      滞在期間中の目標を持って生活をすること

何か疑問に思ったりすることがあれば、ホストに聞いてすぐに解決しましょう。ホストファミリーは我々が海外からの留学生で英語が第二言語であることを理解しているため、自分の英語力を心配する必要はありません。なので、どんどん知っている単語を繋げて会話してみましょう!そして滞在中は家の中に引きこもって自分ひとりで何かするのではなく、ホストを誘ったり、学校の友達を誘ってどこかへ出かけたり何か一緒にするように心がけましょう。それらは英語力を向上させるための一つのコツでもあります。これは実際に私も行った方法なので自信を持って皆さんにお勧めすることができます。最後に、何かしらの目標をもって過ごすことを高く推奨したいと思います。そうでないと、何か大変なことがあったりつらいことが起きた際に、すぐ諦めてしまったり英語を話そうとしなくなる可能性もでてきます。しかし、もし目標や滞在後の自分の理想像などがあれば、難しいことに直面した際にも乗り越えることができるでしょうし、何ごとに対してもモチベーションを保つことができるでしょう。自分を信じてどんなことにも努力をしていくことが、最終的に良い結果をもたらしてくれると私は考えています。"

Gone Beachin'

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

One thing that a lot of people don't know about Boston is that beaches exist in the city. Yes, despite popular belief you don't have to travel all the way to the cape/south shore for a pleasant beach experience. If you're a Boston native then maybe you frequent Carson or Revere beach, but for me, this being my first summer living here in the city, I hadn't visited any of the local beaches until last weekend. Upon spending all of Saturday and Sunday laying on a beach towel I learned something: "that dirty water" is actually kind of nice - freezing, but nice.

The two beaches I visited were Revere Beach in - you guessed it- Revere, and M Street Beach in Southie. Saturday was the International Sand Sculpting Festival at Revere. What's that? It's like a display of those sand castles you always built when you were little, except way way WAY better. Every year artists from around the world come to Revere to create huge sand sculptures from a bunch of sand imported from New Hampshire. I have no idea how they do it but I know it looks amazing. The festival draws over 300,000 spectators - so you can imagine how difficult it was to park.

In addition to the sculptures there was also a live music stage, carnival rides, and just about every type of food truck you could think of. The whole event was super lively and I'm really glad I went. Definitely better than staying home in my AC-less apartment. 


M Street Beach on Sunday was a lot more laid back than Revere.  The beach wasn't nearly as crowded (probably due to the lack of any international festivals taking place) and the ocean was a lot more calm. While it wasn't as big as Revere, I still liked M Street because the atmosphere was relaxing and the beach itself was pretty. From the sand you have a nice view of the JFK Library and neighboring Carson Beach as well as a perfect location to watch the planes landing/ taking off at Logan. This beach was also cool because the majority of beach-goers are typically young, college-aged Bostonians.  My friends and I started a game of spike ball (think volleyball but the net is a trampoline) and tanned until the sun began to set. It all made for a perfect end to a perfect weekend.


Vamos a la playa! Find a list of Boston's best beaches here. 

Locations and Transportation: 
Revere Beach: 
Revere Beach, Revere MA 02151
MBTA: Blue Line to Revere Beach 
Bus 110 to Wonderland or Broadway & Park Ave. 
M Street Beach
William J Day Blvd. (at M St.)
BostonMA 02127
MBTA: 11 Bus E 8th St @ M st. or N st. 

Red, White, and Burger

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

In my travel experience, I have found that one of the best ways to learn about and experience a new culture is by trying the typical cuisine of that region or country. When traveling to the US, sampling the local food should definitely be on your "to do "list. If you're just visiting the United States you might be thinking : America has its own cuisine?? Yes, as much as we do love the food of other cultures ( ex: Mexican, Italian, Chinese) America has a few dishes that are classically American. To get you started, here is a list of a few USA favorites for Americans and tourists alike. 

What's the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about American food? The burger. A classic meal that originated in the 1800s right here in the good ol' U S of A. There is some debate as to who actually created the first hamburger but virtually no debate as to whether or not they're delicious. The popularity of the hamburger (no, not only in the US but all over the world) since its creation speaks for itself. My pick for a must try burger in Boston is Boston Burger Company on Boylston Street.When I went recently there was SO MANY different burgers on the menu it was difficult to decide on just one...but in the end I think I made the right choice (see picture above). They even have a burger topped with mozzarella sticks, fried mac and cheese, onion rings, bacon, and BBQ sauce. If that doesn't scream America then I don't know what does. 

 

The hot dog - commonly coupled with the burger- was created in the US thanks to German immigrants. While Coney Island is the original home of the hot dogs that we know and love today, Boston offers many worthwhile renditions of this American classic - and no I'm not referring to the $20 Franks at Fenway Park. Instead, I would opt for a real outdoor BBQ at Formaggio's Kitchen. Every Saturday from 11 am the restaurant hosts a BBQ outside of their Cambridge location with not only hot dogs but also smoked meat sandwiches, ribs and corn bread. The best part is Formaggio's hot dogs are all beef, not that mystery concoction of meats you sometimes find in grocery stores, so you don't have to feel bad post devouring one Saturday afternoon. Speaking of eating hot dogs on Saturdays...THIS Saturday (July 23rd) is National Hot Dog Day so go out and celebrate America's favorite cooked sausage.

A true meal is not complete without dessert, so in keeping with the spirit of all things American I urge you to try a slice of apple pie from Petsi Pies on Beacon Street in Somerville. All of the pies here are baked fresh daily with real ingredients, so you know they're good. The perfect addition to an American BBQ. I like to top mine off with Vanilla ice cream, but you can do what you want. 

Clam chowder may not be a typical dish of America in general, but it is definitely a typical dish of the New England region. There are A LOT of places in New England to get chowder, but my recommendation in the Boston area has to be the Barking Crab in Seaport. Here, the food is good and the atmosphere is even better. From the outdoor terrace you have a great view of the harbor making for an authentic New England experience.

Pair your meals with other uniquely American things, maybe? A NASCAR race? A football game? You don't even have to feel bad about eating all this food - consider it a learning experience. 

Independence Day Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Hopefully your independence day this year was filled with fireworks, American flag T-shirts, barbecues, and plenty of potato salad.  As I was impatiently awaiting the start of the Boston fireworks this year, from the comfort  of a roof top in Mission Hill (see above - pretty scenic right??), I wondered if our celebration, fireworks and all, is really as uniquely American as we perceive it to be. So, I decided to do a little research about the Independence Day celebrations of other cultures and I discovered that firework shows, eating contests, BBQs,  parties, and parades are actually a pretty universal thing and seem to be the standard way to celebrate freedom. 


Australia: January 26

OK so Australia Day isn't exactly the Australian equivalent of Independence Day but it's pretty close. On this day the Australians celebrate the first arrival of the British (I know total opposite from the 4th in America) and the first unfurling of the British flag at Sydney Cove. Australia and America have different reasons for celebrating, but the way they celebrate is similar. Just like Americans, Australians celebrate this day with family gatherings, festivals, fireworks, and (of course) BBQs. Each city has its own Australia Day traditions, for example Sydney holds its famous boat races, while Melbourne has a People's March to celebrate the diversity of the nation. Overall it seems like a pretty good time.

Ghana: March 6

Ghana was the first African colony to celebrate its independence from Britain in 1957. Every year on this day the people of Ghana celebrate with fireworks parades and traditional street parties. And if you think street parties sound fun, on the coast people have beach parties and celebrate with dance moves that combine traditional elements with hip hop.


France: July 14

France's independence day commemorates the day of the storming of the Bastille prison during the French revolution.The day begins with a military parade on the famous Champs-Élysées. The French also attend Firemen’s galas, where fire stations across France are open to the public for dancing, drinking, and partying and even some live demonstrations. A party with French firemen?? Oui s'il vous plaît. 


Peru : July 28 -29

The way Peru celebrates their independence day is actually brilliant. Why? because they take two days to do it instead of one. As someone who thinks July 4th is the greatest American holiday, I am really into the idea of dedicating two days to celebrate. In Peru, they celebrate their independence on July 28, the date when José de San Martine proclaimed Peru’s independence; AND July 29, on which they celebrate the Armed Forces and National Police. The festivities kick off with a cannon salute in Lima, followed by Te Deum mass, led by the Archbishop of the capital city and attended by the President of the Republic. The Gran Corso, (aka a giant parade) also takes place in downtown Lima.


India: August 15

August 15th marks the day the British brexit-ed India ending the three century long period of British rule. Billions of Indians every year commemorate the historic day by decorating their houses, offices, and schools with the deep saffron, white and green of the Indian flag. Families gather to watch the annual flag hoisting ceremony, broadcasted live from the Red Fort in New Delhi. Independence day in India is a beautiful celebration because all over the country the sky is full of colorful kites, which to Indians symbolize freedom. Definitely the perfect day for a picnic outside in my opinion. 


Indonesia: August 17

Celebrations on August 17th begin with the flag ceremony at the National Palace. The flag is hoisted by carefully selected high school students from across the country. It is immediately after the ceremony that the real party starts as neighborhoods ready themselves for street fests with games and music concerts. On this day in Indonesia, the traditional game is "panjat pinang", which is a typical non competitive sport where people try to scale palm trees that are covered in oil (because climbing a non -slippery tree isn't hard enough?) in hopes of grabbing the prizes that have been placed at the top. This challenge is important because it symbolizes the struggle of Indonesians to achieve their independence from the Dutch. If you aren't down to get super greasy climbing trees, then you can try your luck at the hotdog shrimp chip eating contest. Yum.


Mexico:  September 16

The Mexican independence day (no - it's not Cinco De Mayo) memorializes the Grito de Delores, or the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest from Dolores. Mexico city is the hot spot for all the festivities as more than half a million people gather there each year. It is a tradition for the president to repeat the cry of patriotism and then there is a firework show. ¡Viva!

 



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