Monday, September 24, 2012

The University of Tsukuba CE Humanities A - Week 4

Photo by iStockphoto. Used with permission
Hello everyone! Today we are going to talk about culture shock. Let's start with some vocabulary study. Please click here: CE-Humanities A Vocabulary.
What is culture shock? Here are some sentences about culture shock from space alc:

Culture shock affects people in different ways; physical and mental tiredness, depression, homesickness, irritability, becoming critical of the new culture.
カルチャーショックは、人によって異なる悪影響を及ぼします。肉体的・精神的疲労、抑鬱症、ホームシック、イライラ、新しい文化に批判的になるなどです。◆【出典】Hiragana Times, 1998年11月号(株式会社ヤック企画)

Culture shock usually takes places about 3 months after arriving in a foreign country and is a negative reaction towards the new country, as a result of culture fatigue, from trying to adapt and communicate in an unfamiliar environment.
カルチャーショックは通常、外国に到着してから約3カ月が過ぎた頃に起こり、それは、新しい国に対する否定的な反応として現われます。不慣れな環境に順応し、気持ちを伝えようと努力することで、文化的に疲労した結果なのです。◆【出典】Hiragana Times, 1998年11月号(株式会社ヤック企画)◆URL

Have you ever experienced culture shock? Please tell us about your experience of culture shock. Leave a comment below.


  1. Akihiko.H5:48 pm

    Hello, Mr.Stout.
    I think I don't have any specific experience of a culture shock.
    People say Japan is rather peaceful and has few crimes.
    Therefore I'll encounter a cultue shock when I go abroad and know the situation of the country.
    Maybe I will be surprised how dangerous the country is or perhaps I visit the safer country than Japan.
    I have few opportunities to experience culture shocks so I'd like to know something unbelievable about other cultures.

    1. Hi Akihiko,
      Thanks for your message.
      Based on your answer, I'm not sure you fully understand what culture shock is. I think that people's idea of safety might be a deep culture issue. I know that, as a Canadian, I think that some places in America are unsafe, but many Americans feel very safe there.

  2. Masako.S9:35 pm

    When I went to America for a homestay program,I have experienced culture shock.
    My host sister who was 14 always said to me,"What do you want to do?
    I was very confused because I didn't think about what I had to do next always.
    At first,I couldn't say anything and I was said "Don't be shy!" But I got used to that my surroundings, I could say what I wanted to do next.
    I learned it is important to say my opinion clearly in America.
    It was my culture shock.

    1. Hi Masako,
      I think I understand what you are saying. I think you mean that you learned that you should speak up for yourself in America. I'm not American so I might find the situation you were in difficult too, but maybe for different reasons.
      Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  3. When I was junior high school student,I went to Canada for homestay.I was surprised that they entered their home wearing their shoes!There were no place to put shoes.I walked the room wearing my shoes.I felt it was little dirty.It was culture shock for me.But it was usual in Canada and I got used to do so in several days.

    1. Hi Saki,
      This one is difficult. In Canada many people wear their shoes in the house, but many do not. For this reason, perhaps, people who do not wear shoes in their homes post signs in their vestibules ( 玄関) asking guests to remove their shoes. We almost never worn shoes in my house. Actually, the only time we did really, was when we were in a hurry and had to run in the house to get something quickly.

  4. Yuki.I9:16 am

    When I was a high school student, I went to Australia.
    For me, this is the first trip to foreign country.
    So, I felt some differences between Japanese and
    Ausuralian culture.
    Especially, I felt their magnanimous character.
    My hostfamily is a typical example.
    They were very kind to me.
    But sometimes they behaved too much freely.

    One night, we went back home after dinner.
    On the way to the home, suddenly, my hostfather
    played the CD in the car.
    But its volume was too loud! It was night!
    And the windows were opened all the way!
    In adittion, my hostsisters began to sing.
    Of course, very loudly. They looked so exciting.
    I thought what a crazy family they were!
    But no neiborhood made a complaint.
    I couldn't underdtand.

    But I think if I live in foreign countries,
    I will face many culture shocks like my experience.
    To understand well each other,
    it is important to accpet other cultures.

    1. Hi Yuki,
      thanks for sharing your interesting story. I think I might have felt the same way as you did. In my neighbourhood those people would have many many people angry, especially if they didn't sing well. However, you said that no one seemed to be disturbed by their behaviour, so I guess it must be OK to make noise there.

  5. Yuka.M5:24 pm

    When I was a junior high school student,I went to England as school excursion.In England,I experienced homestay for the first time.Speaking English with my host family(only mother)everyday was worthy of culture shock for me! It irritated me because I wasn't tell my will enough.
    But I thank for her.She said me that making mistake wasn't shameful,so you can tell me your opinion more with your English!

    1. Hi Yuka,
      Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
      I think what you felt was very natural. I have felt the same time when I've been in the company of people I didn't know well. Shyness is natural and being shy in our second language is natural too. Still, we need to over come it, right?

  6. Arisa.I8:38 pm

    When I was a second-year high school student, new ALT came in my school. She was from New Zealand and her accent was very storong. So, we couldn't understand what she said. We couldn't react. We didn't say nothing to her words, she openly showed her anger.
    I was surprised because the Japanese don't show their emotions. Showing emotions is thought to break harmony among people. Indeed, the class harmony was bad. But the ALT didn't care.
    In the future, if I get a chance to live foreign country, I don't want to so because I won't put up with culture shock stress. But I want to communication with foreign people and other cultures in Japan.

    1. Hi Arisa,
      I'm sorry you had a bad experience. Culture shock isn't pleasant, that's for sure. I think your ALT was experiencing culture shock too. Maybe, that's why she got angry. I hope you are wrong when you say "...the class harmony was bad...But the ALT didn't care." I hope the truth is that the ALT DID care, but she was unable to cope with the situation. Maybe she was angry at the situation, not you. I know that doesn't make it easier to take the anger, but maybe it's necessary to give people the benefit of the doubt, right?

    2. Arisa.I11:26 pm

      I see. I try to understand other cultures without hesitation.

  7. itokon1:14 pm

    I went to Taiwan when I was junior high school student.
    I had a lot of experiences there.I introduce some of them.
    First, in Jpan,when we go to the toilet,we flush the toilet with toilet paper.But in Taiwan, people throw away toilet paper in the trash box!!
    During days in Taiwan,I had thought it was stange....
    Second,in Taiwan,green tea is very very sweet!! When I drunk it,I thought
    the clerk mistaken.But,that green tea was also delicious.

    1. Hi Itokon,
      I had the same experience in Greece. On the island of Santorini you must put your used toilet tissue in the bin. Oh yeah, in Dubai too. I think it's because of the plumbing system.
      Thanks for your interesting story.

  8. Akiho.T9:56 am

    I have never been to foreign countries and experienced culture shock.But I really want to go abroad during my univercity life.I can imagine that there are many different things we have to accept.From other's comments, I can learn many thing.If I go abroad, I think these knowledge are very useful.

  9. Sayaka.M7:51 pm

    When I was a junior high school student,I went to Australia for homestay. I experienced culture shock there. My host family was Christian,so they are vegetarian. Every meals were healthy. And they went to church every Sunday. I was surprised because the chuech was very magnificent. I was confused their culture at first but it was very good experience for me.

  10. I've had experienced some culture shock since I came to Japan. The biggest culture shock for me is the separation of garbage and the hard-to-find-garbage-bin. In my country we don't have to separate our garbage. There's only one bin and all types of garbage goes in there. And we have a garbage bin every 50 meter.

    But in Japan, there are 5 different bins for 5 different types of garbage. And in Tokyo, it is REALLY hard to find a garbage bin. The first time I went to visit Tokyo, I had to hold an empty can for about 30 minutes before I found the garbage bin. That is the first time I've ever felt that throwing a small garbage is a big problem. The interesting thing is, despite all that, I've never seen a Japanese, or in fact anyone in Japan littered.

  11. Shoko.A4:31 am

    Heloo,my name is Shoko.
    When I went to Hawaii last summer,I was surprised at a lot of things!
    First,all dishes are too large.
    I ordered a half chicken,but the restaurant served two chicken.
    I was confused,and the waiter laghted at me.
    Second,when we drove on the highway,all drivers wave out of the cars to the back cars to change the hammer lanes.
    If I do so in Japan,it's too dangerous and I will possibly lost arm.
    Third,frisking in the airport is very strict.
    We must take out our shoes,enter the unique machine and raise both of our hands.
    But all of them were goog memories because I really enjoy in Hawaii★

  12. Kohei8:59 pm

    I have never been to foreign countries.
    However,I have talked with many people from many prefecture at Tsukuba university and I often experienced culture shock.
    I did not want to go abroad because I was a careful type person.
    But now I want to go abroad and have good experience because I was inspired by other comments.

  13. Ayaka.K11:00 pm

    When I was in my second year in high school, I went to Australia as a school trip.
    I stayed at a farm during half of my trip and then I have experienced culture shock.
    In Australia, water is very precious.
    So, in a farm, each of us was allowed to take a shower(of course we could not take a bath)for only 5 minutes a day!
    It was too short for me...
    From this trip, I understood how important water is and how interesting cultural or environmental differences are.
    This is my wonderful experience!

  14. Keisuke.I11:02 pm

    I have never experienced culture shock. So I`m afraid of going to foreign countries. But I want to go abroad while I am a university student to understand ohter culture and not to cause cultural trouble. Also,I want to understand the feeling of foreigner in Japan.

  15. Yurika.M8:03 am

    Hello, Mr.Stout.
    I went to Poland when I was junior high school student.
    I was a Girl Scout, and took part in the jamboree for 2weeks.
    Thre were many events in the open air, but it wasn't always good weather.
    When we had a opening ceremony of the jamboree, it started raining. We Japanese thought that the ceremony will be canceled or held indoors. However, Other countries' Scouts didn't care bad weather and continued the ceremony in the rain.
    I was very surprised by those scouts' energy. Thanks to their positive attitudes, I could enjoy all of events just as planned.
    Of course, acting carefully is important, but they told me that some bold attempts are also essential to camping.

  16. Kentaro .I8:29 am

    Hello,Mr Michel!
    I experienced culture shock at Cairns in Australia in 2 years ago.
    In Cairns, I saw as many cars and signal as in Japan. I pushed button and waited for signal's changing.
    But actually, there are few people following the traffic rule!
    I thought it's one of differences between countries and cultures.

  17. Miyu . K8:42 am

    In Germany when it is higher than 25 degrees,schools are closed!!
    It is because in Germany the average temperature of summer is about 23 degrees,so 25 degrees is too hot for German people.

    On the other hand,the average temperature of summer is higher than 30 degrees,so 25 degrees is not too hot for Japanese.

    When my friend who lived in Germany told that to me,I was very surprised,because it doesn't occur in Japan.
    I think that the difference of climate makes school difference.

  18. S.Arai8:53 am

    When I was a high school student, I went to Singapore on the school trip. Local students guides us in their home town. I surprised that they can speak English, their second language, fluently. Besides many of them seem to have their third language. I was so embarrassed because I can't speak even my second language, English well. There are many nation in Singapore, and that makes them study so hard. On the other hand, Most Japanese isn't under the necessity of speaking English. I thought Japanese should study harder to survive the world development competition.

  19. Marina9:26 am

    Good morning,Mr.Stout!

    I haven't ever experienced culture shock.
    Also,I haven't been to foreign countries.

    So I want to save a lot of money and go abroad while I'm a Tsukuba
    university student.
    And I want to experience various culture in the world.

    I was surprised for many classmates to go abroad to do homestay!!

    1. Hello Marina,
      Thank you for your comment, and thank you for your tweet too. I'm sorry it took me so long to reply.
      If you want to travel inexpensively, then travelling in Asia is a good idea. The airfare might be the only large expense you have. For example, when I travelled in India I stayed in some places that cost less than ¥1000 per night. Much less expensive places are available too, if you can "rough" it. The first time I visited Bangkok, I stayed in a hotel in a good location for only ¥600. Actually, I was travelling with my friend, so it cost only ¥300. Travelling in Asia, you need time, not money. If you have time, patience, endurance, and a positive attitude you can travel very inexpensively in Asia. I recommend this book:
      See you soon!

  20. I have never been to foreign countries.
    But I would like to go abroad someday.
    There are many different culture in the world so I will experience culture shock.
    When I encounter such a problem,I want to overcome it.
    To do so,I think it is very important for me to be receptive to other cultures and traditions.

  21. Hello theacher!

    I haven't ever been to foreign countries.
    However, when I entered in University of Tsukuba.
    I met one Indonesian's boy.
    When we went to the eating house.
    He is likely to be hard to have a meal using shopsticks
    He said in Indonesia, they have a meal using hand.
    I asked him why Indonesian do so?
    He answered that it was more delicious to have a meal using hand rather than using chopsticks.
    He said that I also try it.
    This is my culture shock.

  22. chihiron12:07 pm

    I have eaten a musk candy when I stayed in Australia, and I wondered why it occurred to Australian people making such a terrible flavor. It makes me feel eating a cake of soap. I think it is culture shock I have experienced.

  23. Anonymous12:27 pm

    hello, Mr.Stout.
    I'm Sasamori.
    I have experiented a small culture shock.

    When I was 13 years old, I moved to Aichi from Tochigi.
    Aichi is very different to Tochigi.For example,the dialect, the atmosphere,foods and manners.

    Aichi was almost a foreign country for me.
    I became very tired and got hate school.
    However,thanks to teachers and my friends,I got to like Aichi very much.
    Now I feel that Aichi is my hometown.

  24. Keita,I12:45 pm


    I haven`t ever experienced culture shock.
    But I heard culture in Thailand.

    People in Thailand wipe their feces by using their hands.
    I was very surprised to hear that.
    I think it is very dirty.
    But they think not dirty.

    A man who told me that tried it.
    But I never want to try!!!!!!!!

  25. Sayaka.K12:50 pm

    I moved and changed school at a age of a third grade because my father changed his work.
    I was very nervous and worried about making friends until I went new school for the first time.
    But my classmate was very kind , so I made many friends and enjoyed my new school days.

  26. Yuka.F12:55 pm

    I have never been to foreign countries.
    So, this episode may not be culuture shock.

    When I was junior high school student,I started to study English.
    And I was surprised because English has only one word to call oneself while Japanese has many many words to do.
    This means Japanese has made so much of positions,sex,and so on.
    And other culuture has not, I thought.

    This idea is too simple,but the differense in the number of the first person was shocking and interesting.
    So,I want to learn more and more here.

  27. Eishi.K12:58 pm

    Hello! Mr.Stout!
    I went to New Zealand when I was 14.It was a school trip.
    I went a school.I was surprised at the students, because they studied voluntarily.When the teacher asked some questions, all the people in the class raised their hands and spoke their ideas.
    In Japan, most of the students are quiet in the class, while they are as powerful as the students in New Zealand at recess.

  28. kosuke.S1:09 pm

    Hi Michael.

    When i went to Rome i was surprised at their rhythm of living.
    One day i came back from sightseeing and tried to have a dinner,
    i was confused that almost all of cafe and restaurant were closed.
    Their closing time were so early for me.
    But when i met such a situation i feel that the night in japan is so bright is true.

    At that time, i understood that rhythm of living is perfectly different from each country and this is so interesting.

  29. Sayaka.H1:12 pm

    I have never been to foreign countries. But, when I came to Tsukuba, I experienced a thing like culture shock.
    I was born in Saga. I had been living there until I entered the university. In tsukuba, the dialect of Kyushu is not understood and I was not able to talk in my true words. Now, I am talking dialectally among close friends.
    I can't talk in japanese if I go abroad, I think that it is more serious.

  30. N.Kishimoto1:14 pm

    I have experienced culture shock in Tsukuba.
    There is a Chinese restaurant which Chinese people cook and work near my house.
    When I went to this restaurant at the first time, I felt so uncomfortable because clerk`s attitude was so rude. I had not ever seen such a rude clerk in Japan.
    However, when I searched about China, I realized that this attitude was Chinese culture. In China, people think that clerk is in higher position than customer. Now that I find this ,I enjoy this restaurant as I feel as if I was in China.

  31. Taichi.M1:24 pm

    I had lived Kumamoto city since i was born and half years ago I came to Tsukuba.
    I had some culture shock. One of them is dialect.
    Some words I believe they are standard languages are often dialect, so sometimes my friends can't understand what I want to tell!
    However, I notice that these differences are interesting.
    I want to enjoy them in Tsukuba.

  32. Atsushi.K1:27 pm

    I haven't ever experienced culture shock and I don't know other cultures well.
    So, I want to go to abroad to understand other cultures and other countries people while I'm university student.