Japan, I came here on the 13th of May 2015 and every day I have been here has led me to experiences I would not have been able to obtain anywhere else. The contrasts between the foods, transportation, people and culture between Japan and the U.S. is astonishing to say the least.
Almost everyone has heard of the humongous portion size offered at American restaurants. In comparison, Japanese food is always tailored to satiate a person only until the next meal of the day. The presence of “Combinis” (Convenience Stores) literally on every street and major intersection truly makes these shops live up to their name. Although there are supermarkets similar to those in the U.S., the convenience stores really take it up a notch by allowing a person to pay his rent, buy a bus ticket and get a readymade hot meal.
In the academic setting, there is a stark difference in the student-professor interaction. Methods of communicating with professors in the U.S is, in general, much more conversation friendly and relaxed than with professors in Japan. As in many other Asian countries, Japan also has an academic structure where the all the professors and staff are authority figures and must be addressed with an honorific at all times.
Making friends is radically different between the U.S and Japan. In Japan, most of your friends come from the lab you work in and a large chunk of your time is spent with them. Usually parties include all your peers from work. This is something that is almost never observed in the U.S, as most people have separate relationships at work and at home with most people never mixing the two. Friends in America are made by participating in sports clubs or activity groups and usually not in class.
Housing was a topic that was very interesting. Most houses in Japan are very small with enough room space for just one person to live and is comparable to a studio flat in the U.S. The prices, however, are very expensive for the area provided and large part of the income goes towards paying rent.
Public Transport, this is by far one of the best things about Japan. The trains are always punctual and depart exactly to the minute with a system that connects the whole country. The same can’t be said for public transport in the U.S, where, apart from major cities, it is almost non-existential (that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just more expensive) as cars are the major form of transportation from state to state.
Customer service is in a whole other level in Japan. The customers are revered and are always given high priority with all interaction occurring with a smile on their face and utmost politeness. Even if you don’t speak Japanese, they will try their hardest to communicate and provide all the available options for the best possible outcome.
Overall, Japan and the U.S are both amazing countries, each having their own customs, cultures and quirks. There are plenty of things to see and do in both countries and both places definitely need to be visited by everyone!
Summer Orientation Peer Adviser
Co-lead Orientation Workshop Presentations: “Making Friends with Americans” and “Communicating with Your Academic and Research Adviser”
Country of Origin: IndiaMaster: Engineering