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Hi everyone,

I've recently moved to Japan to get married to my girlfriend, who lives here in Saga. I've been here for about two months now, and very slowly adjusting to living life here. The change has been a lot more difficult than I would have ever imagined. Her family and friends treat me very well, but I miss Canada, my mom, my friends, and all the familiarity of home. I've never been away from Vancouver for more than two months in my 34 years of living there, so this is definitely a struggle to not have people around that I can talk to. My Japanese is at a beginner level and I'm learning through using Rosetta Stone and just trying to talk to people randomly at stores or at restaurants. I thought I would be able to survive socially by just having my girlfriend and her family but I feel lonely not having my friends around to talk to. I crave human contact with others who are going through the same feelings and need to have friends who I can speak to. Someone suggested for me to start looking into Gaijin socials within my city or on expat websites like this one. I was just wondering if there are any other people out there who are experiencing these types of feelings and would like to help a fellow person out. I live in a more remote part of Japan and there are very few english speakers here. I know I will struggle for awhile before I adjust but was hoping there are others like myself who need a friend. i would appreciate any sort of advice or words of wisdom from anyone willing to reach out. Thank you for reading this.
 

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Two suggestions...

First, if you don't already have an email address, get one. Then try to get as many of your family and friends as you can to do the same. Sure, it's not the same as being there but at least you can keep up with what's going on back home.

Second, download Skype and do the same recruiting with your family and friends. My wife is from Hong Kong and talks with someone from there via Skype almost daily. You will have to contend with a bit more of a time shift but you don't have to talk every night.

One way to find more Japanese conversation is to pick a place you like, near where you live, that has some people with whom you don't mind talking. Start going every week on the same day at the same time. After a while you're bound to become one of the regulars and you'll start to know folks around your neighborhood, which can be pretty convenient if you need help at some point. I find bars are better than restaurants and sitting at the counter to be far better than sitting at a table (people don't seem to mind random conversation as much when they're sitting at the counter).

And, of course, don't forget there's a whole forum full of people to talk to right here if you have a question or a comment. Good luck and welcome to the party...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you larabell. I do have an email address and Skype on a daily basis. I purchased a Skype to landline and mobile phones unlimited to Canada which has been extremely useful. I thought that would be enough to be able to talk to friends and family everyday, but I find I'm still lonely getting used to the change here in Japan. I'm a very talkative person by nature, so it's really difficult to always remain quiet and observe. I knew that would happen, so no surprise, and I know once I learn how to speak Japanese things will improve socially for me.

Thank you for the suggestion about going to a regular place at the same time every week. I will try to find a place close to home that I can go to. There are lots of bars downtown so there should be lots of opportunities. i will do everything I can to meet people. It is something I've always never had to worry about, so its just the shock of so many life changes happening at the same time. I'm sure things will turn around for me, just have to remain positive and patient. And yes, I will reach out here in the future when I need more support. Thank you once again for your response.
 

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Trying this out

Hi,

Well, it took time for me to adjust to life here in the US and now all is well. Its easier if you know how to speak the language. My daughter speaks a bit of Japanese so she can converse with others and she is self taught.

Anyway, am trying this forum out in the hope of finding a buddy on that side of the world as I do need some items which are not available here.

Cheers
 

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I know a lot of people here who's Japanese ability is crap because they have lots of English speaking friends. My advice for your life is to bite the bullet and don't make any English speaking friends. Of course most people can't handle that and that's why you have foriegners around who can't speak a full sentence after living here for 20 years.
 

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Hi EJP,

I spent four years in Japan, as a high school english teacher outside Osaka. So the glasses I wear when reading your initial post frame my viewpoint through that (somewhat distant) experience.

The change has been a lot more difficult than I would have ever imagined.

Living in japan will test your maturity level, and it won't be easy. You probably won't stay there the rest of your life. So you need to formulate some goals, some achievable outcomes that you'd like to take with you when you leave. Then, while you are there, you can focus on those. It'll help to have a focus. Any focus is a good focus, but one that adds to your life later on will be more valuable. Japan is an incredibly deep, rich culture - to be jumped into and enjoyed during your time there. Jump in, both feet first. Just, know when why and how to pull the rip cord! actually, as good sky divers will tell you, they'll have a plan about when to pull the rip cord - before they even dive. That should go for all culture sky divers too. Talk to your wife about expectations as to how long you'll both stay in Japan (on this first trip), and establish a goal that'll take you a while to complete, and then evaluate when you want to leave after achieving that goal.

Her family and friends treat me very well, but I miss Canada, my mom, my friends, and all the familiarity of home.

You are lucky to have your social life figured out, and be surrounded by new family. That's a huge opportunity for delving into the culture, and doing some high quality drinking!

My Japanese is at a beginner level and I'm learning through using Rosetta Stone and just trying to talk to people randomly at stores or at restaurants.

Drop the Rosetta stone. do yourself a favor and enroll in an intensive 3 month Japanese language school. Study at least 20 hours a week in class for 3 months, followed by at least the same if not more time studying what they are teaching you as well as your own study of Kanji and grammar on your own. Take it seriously, or just leave now. Take pride in your ability to learn, and your new family will take pride in teaching you and hanging out with you. They are nervous with the english thing. Move towards their comfort zone, and out of yours.

I thought I would be able to survive socially by just having my girlfriend and her family but I feel lonely not having my friends around to talk to. I crave human contact with others who are going through the same feelings and need to have friends who I can speak to. I live in a more remote part of Japan and there are very few english speakers here.

You really have tackled a tough assignment. Look around, they'll be some foriegners somewhere! Maybe a short train ride away, but they'll be someone somewhere that'll crack a few beers and allow you to 'blow off some steam' and laugh at you confusion and hangups. It's important to get it out. Then forget about it. And, if you don't believe me, just find someone to have a couple drinks with, and they'll be 'letting it out' themselves, and you'll enjoy laughing at their hangups. Usually when one person is enraged about the Japanese system or some such thing, the other person will focus on the positives, and then next week or next month, they'll reverse roles. Its fun. Its a necessary coping mechanism, and can bring life long friendships to boot. So, look around and be willing to travel - it'll keep you healthy.
 

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Oh,

I was fluent in japanese after about two and a half years, reaching the 1-kyu level of (68%), but narrowly allowing it to slip from my grasp (pass mark was 70%). It was a great experience. If I had been surrounded by family instead of other foriegners, I would have easily made it.

Ja ne, ki o tsukete - na.
 

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True, Rube. But 'chotto hito koto'....

Even after being able to piece my way through certain newspaper articles, and read entire (silly) high school level mystery novels - I wouldn't call my self fluent in topics I wasn't well versed in. Of course the same can be said about native english speakers trying to entertain conversations on topics they don't know much about. but of course, you'd refer to those people as 'fluent' speakers. I don't need to brag, but everyone I spoke with thought I was fluent... (I fooled them, you bet).

I did have one friend though, who actually learned to read Japanese newspaper articles after only 9 months! His two year mark, he wrote the 1-kyu exam, and got 94% - which was higher than any Chinese or Korean student studying at the Japanese language specialist college (Osaka) that he (and I) were teaching in at the time. He was quite unusual.

But he set the bar high, and I followed suit, sometimes craming up to 100 new kanji characters into my wee little brain on a single day - only to wake up the next morning with only 60 or so memorized from the last days work. Then, i'd review and study my mistakes, putting the little kanji cards that I had correct on one pile and the others into other piles. Read, test, write, test, back test, front test, it can take hours! But after eight hours each day, you eventually retain them....

So, honestly, don't say the word 'dekenai', and you 'dekeru' just about anything you set your mind to. If you tell yourself you aren't fluent enough to speak and handle your end of the conversation, then you won't get any practice trying. I prefer the cup half full theory of language.

Have you ever met a german speaking english improperly? Ever mentioned to them that they aren't 'fluent'? They don't care. To them, it's all about communicating their point of view, and being understood. It's not poetry. I was no poet. But then in englich, I ain't no poet either. I was fluent in Japanese after 2 and a half years. I lived there for 4.
 

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Anyway EJP,

The point I was trying to make is that you can achieve a very high level of language if you set your mind to it. And once you get 'good', the place is a lot less stressful. The pure pursuit of the language can give you a focus that helps you de-stress, and the language can help you avoid stressful situations too. Maybe, you'll choose something else to focus on, like a martial art instead of language. Whatever it is, pursuit of some achievable, meaningful goal that helps better your life after Japan is where it's at. Remind yourself every day that you are indeed, lucky to be there soaking it up. Challenged? Yes. And lucky.
 
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