University of Wisconsin–Madison

Making Japan feel like Home

When I first arrived at the dormitory I was about to spend the next half of the year in, and had dragged all my suitcases upstairs, I was unsure how to react to my new room.

Before landing in Japan, I was told close to nothing about my living conditions other than it was an all women dormitory. While there was a closet, desk, TV, bedding and shelves, the TV was only in Japanese with no English subtitles, I didn’t see any mattress on my bed and the room itself was tiny. I was only given a brief five minutes being shown around my dorm room before heading back for an afternoon and evening full of activities.

Despite having very little time between work and traveling to be in my dorm room, I have begun to turn it from a tiny inconspicuous room into something I can see myself living in happily for the following months

I have also learned to appreciate my room much more than I first did upon arrival and all my initial qualms with the room are now put to ease. While the TV does not have subtitles, I am never home long enough to use it and if I want to watch TV I just watch Netflix on my laptop. A mattress was given and, although not as thick as I am used to, it provides an excellent place to sleep after being on the move for 13 hours straight. And the room is still small, but it allows for it to be heated faster and less space to decorate!

Beyond making my room more homely, I have been learning Japanese in my downtime as well as trying to figure out the train system in Osaka to help myself become more like a local. Every day going off to work I feel a little bit less like an outsider, having to look up one less time than the day before to figure out what stop I’m at or adding a couple more Japanese phrases to my vocabulary to use at work. Maybe some people would say I’m being overly optimistic for only my third week in Japan and perhaps next week I’ll feel the negative effects of culture shock hit me again, but right now putting in the extra effort is helping to make Japan feel like home.