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Old 09-21-2012, 08:38 AM   #21
xjNo4zvD

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I had similar problems when moving back from the South of France to Germany. I hated the stress at the supermarket, they don't even let you pack your things calmly! I remembere one elderly women even hit me with her shopping cart several times in the back (not too hard though, but still) as I wasn't close enough to my neighbour before me. Mind you, I was also pregnant at that time! I actually decided to tell her that she could keep more distance - she told me that I should close in more to the man infront of me - I told her that I didn't want to hit him with my cart and that her opinion was no reason to hurt me. She went really bright red and the man infront of me congratulated (yeah, it was the hormones! Normally I'm not that provocative )

I hated (still do a bit) the whater and the people seamed even more rigid and bureaucratic and so loud on the street.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:19 AM   #22
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I'm really spoiled by living where I live right now, so I would definitely have a hard time adjusting had I have to move to a new place. I don't think I can ever live in a place with these problems,
- the dirty streets (dog turds) in the centre.
- the ugly, dirty and stinky metro, frequently by people equally so, and a sense of insecurity.
although I did live in NYC and Albany, which is like an armpit of New York state with gangs and hobos.

Japan will, for sure, give me a huge culture shock if I ever go back, mostly with people's behaviors.
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Old 09-21-2012, 02:42 PM   #23
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The hardest thing for my wife and me to adapt moving from Tokyo to Brussels (a city where I had been but had never lived before) were :

- the dirty streets (dog turds) in the centre.
- the ugly, dirty and stinky metro, frequently by people equally so, and a sense of insecurity.
- the third-world country immigrants overnumbering the locals in the city centre, which made us rather ill-at-ease and nervous.

We now try to avoid the metro, which solves one problem. After about less than a year we finally adjusted to the new environment, and we hardly take heed to people around us anymore. We have both been surprised by this natural adaptation only due to time, without any particular mental effort to try to feel more comfortable. This goes to show that the human mind has incredible faculties of unconscious adaptation to new environments, given enough time.

Ironically, my adaptation to Japanese society was all the reverse, feeling perfectly at ease in the first few months (up to 2 years), then gradually feeling more and more unwanted, discriminated and harassed as my knowledge Japanese language, history and culture increased.
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Old 09-21-2012, 04:10 PM   #24
DarrenBent

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BTW, in some way I can understand now why cultures have evolved differently in different climates and bio-geographycal zones. While here you are are confronted with long term problems (winter) which have to be solved in long term plans, there you are confronted with unpredictable dangers (the only thing you can actually do is to wait for them, like dangerous animals) and solve them immediatly. My conclusion.
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Old 09-21-2012, 05:49 PM   #25
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I don't know much about how it works in other parts of Europe, America or Japan, but recently I was shocked that some friends who have moved flat or changed supplier of broadband internet and have been informed it would take up to 3-4 weeks for anyone to come out to install their router. I had Virgin Media post out my box and modem in a week (which I hooked up myself). I can't understand why in one of the richest countries in the world this would take so long for a guy to plug a cable into a router then charge you £100 for the inconvenience! I also don't understand why internet connections drop so readily at work and at home, we wouldn't tolerate this with electricity or water but for some reason the ISP companies seem to have created a culture of acceptance on their incompetence in developing a more consistent technology.

In the UK we also have a system where energy companies send out electricity bills which are estimates, If I were PM it would be one of the first things I'd make illegal! What other industry in the world would accept a company making up invoices by guess and then in some cases billing you via direct debit - classic case of rip-off Britain.
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Old 09-21-2012, 05:52 PM   #26
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More rant about my reverse culture shock from Japan to Belgium.

I am dismayed by how inefficient business is done in Belgium. So many people just do not give a damn about their work. On the positive side, it seems that people are more polite than they used to be. On the other hand, you have to remind people of what they have to do all the time if you want things to be done. I have called dozens of companies in various sectors, and it's everywhere the same. I call, they say they will send me the documents or call back, but if I don't call them back again and again (5x in average), they just forget about it. In the worst cases, I have had people promising me to do some work (which I pay them to do) and despite all my efforts to remind them by email or on the phone, they never end up doing. That's so irritating. It's like those people have zero incentive to work. Many they are already too busy, or how much customers they get doesn't change anything to their salary... Whatever it is, some days it drives me crazy !

Add to that the restricted business hours. If you want to contact someone in a company, you basically have between 9 or 9:30am to noon or 12:30, then again from 2pm or 2:30pm until about 5pm (sometimes as early as 3:30pm). Contrarily to Japan, where people will work the whole evening, and even the night if necessary, to finish their work, in Belgium there seems to be a general conscensus that people should do as little work per day as possible. Well, that is true at least in Brussels and Wallonia. I hear Flanders is a bit better.

Another thing that seriously bugs me is when you take a business appointment with someone and they are late or don't come at all. Here is the frequency of what I have experienced over the last year :

- on time or a bit before time => 5% of the cases
- 5 to 15 min late => 30% of the cases
- 15min to 1 hour late => 20% of the cases
- the person cancels a few minutes before to cancel or postpone => 25% of the cases
- the person doesn't show up without warning (most often because "they forgot") => 20% of the cases.

In Japan the proportion was more like :

- on time => 80%
- 5 to 15min late => 15%
- 15min to 1h late => 2%
- last minute cancellation => 2%
- doesn't come without warning => 1%

As a customer, I normally do not want to see ever again the person who doesn't come without warning. I will also avoid (if possible) to contact again people who are over 15min late and do not call before the appointment time.

It has happened to me to "fire" my doctor because I took an appointment and he was over 30min late. I just left the waiting room and never called back.

Maybe we should create a blacklist of companies (or individuals) that are regularly late or do not call back when they say they would. I just wish all these companies would go bankrupt, so that only serious ones are left. The problem would be that the good companies would be too busy and there would be a serious deficiency of supply compared to the demand.
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Old 09-21-2012, 06:44 PM   #27
phinno13

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This is a wonderful topic.

I've read all of your guys's replies with great interest.

Allow me to share a few culture shocks after I moved from Russia to the United States. Some have been mentioned before, other's I have yet to tell about.

- This American fat thing stood out to me as well. Funny, Americans always joke abour Russian fat women. Of course, there are overweight people everywhere, including Russia, but in America, it is a disease. And a very obvious one.

- Kids eating nasty fast food. This just bothers me. Parents drag their children to McDonald's where they consume more calories than required in a whole day.
Kids learn to stuff themselves with grease, synthetic garbage, then people wonder why Americans are so fat. They simply have bad eating habits from childhood.

- Another one related to food: cakes look all pretty and bright, but completely flavorless and way too sugary. For some reason, bad-tasting cakes were very shocking to me.

- Green loans. This is a nice surprise. I was used to gray, gloomy Russia, seeing green loans everywhere, and neatly arranged streets was very pleasant.

- Old people driving. Hm.....

- The laziness when it comes to walking, instead of driving. The streets seemed so empty. Like something was missing. There was hardly anyone around. I am talking about small cities and towns, of course.


I believe this is all I can recall for now.
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Old 09-21-2012, 06:50 PM   #28
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In the States, true, difficult to get people to come the same day, unless it really is an emergency. But they usually come within a range of time (or earlier).
Try to get a plumber or an electrician here. It usually takes 1 to 6 months, depending on who you ask. Even for emergencies (like a leak) it can take many days.

In Japan, it depends. We have had to wait two and a half weeks to get Internet service! To get a phone line, Internet access or cable TV in Belgium, it takes always more than 1 month, sometimes up to 3 or 4 months !

Banks in Japan seem really slow, especially when you need to open an account. In the US it's fast, but you need more documents especially for a checking account. I opened several bank accounts in Japan. It took me only 10 min for each - just the time to fill in the papers and wait for my turn. This is also fast in Belgium.

Also, I have had restaurants in Japan where I was tempted to leave as I had to go looking for the staff to pay. Normal, most Japanese go directly to the counter to pay. There is no "tradition" of asking and waiting for you bill/check at your table. In Belgium though, you always wait at your table, and it is common to have to ask several times and wait for 5 or 10 min between each time before you eventually get it. Often customers have to stand up and put on their coat for the staff to move their asses.

One thing my Mom loved in Japan is the samples they give out at the department stores. That's common in supermarkets here too.

As to hours, actually 24 hour supermarkets just came recently to Japan. I was using them in the states back in the late 70s! The law still prohibits any shop to open 24h in most European countries. Often they are prohibited to open on Sunday (unless they close another day of the week). That's because of social laws and workers protection. Very annoying.
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:17 PM   #29
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But even in Europe there are differences in manners. When I came back from Switzerland to Holland, I couldn't help noticing how loutish the Dutch can be. That counts for the shops as well as on the roads.
It is so easy to say thank you, it is free of charge as well. But I am afraid that I'll never get used to this loutish behaviour.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:00 AM   #30
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I have spend one and a half years in Tanzania. The first things that really challenged me when I got back to Germany where:

-compared to Africa the people in Germany were practically "running" on the street. The average speed of a pedestrian in Germany is about the same speed of an African who is on the run of something. Furthermore all the public transport was punctually and on time, just as the schedule said and really meant seriously. So in the beginning I was always too late, where ever I went. And the people were not amused.

-German people who are working in public authorities are very emotionless, sterile, free of every privacy. I felt a bit sad not being asked about anything besides my official aims, only with rude glances. However and suprisingly, if I broke this situation by smiling and talking funny stuff, people also changed and became friendly and funny.

-Africans are mostly living from one day to the other, not making big plans about what is going to come next. This is impossible in Europe. Every day life in Germany is just full of making plans of something, (money) investments, insurances, rent, work itself, house repairs, car checks etc... So while a lot of time I had in Africa was only for my pleasure and if I had problems they were solved here and now, in Germany a lot of my spare time was suddenly lost to plans, creating and collecting documents, again plans and again collecting documents. And it is regarded as being infantile and lazy in Germany not to do so.

-On the other hand I was really overwhelmed by German hygiene and the standards Germans have made to keep them. Of course Central Europe isn't in the tropics, but it was really a relieve for me not to care about what food I eat, what water I drink, what insects might come here or there as well as any other dangers I was previously confronted with (crime, sunburn, unsafe vehicles etc...).

I would propably find even more things but that was my first impression I had when I came back.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:11 AM   #31
colmedindustry

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Reverse culture shock?
Sure,
I shock the culture everywhere I go.

I do enjoy coming into land at Heathrow, lego toyland towns.
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Old 09-22-2012, 06:05 AM   #32
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This caught my eye, but maybe my parents live in another America, or they just know better service people!

Service

In the States, true, difficult to get people to come the same day, unless it really is an emergency. But they usually come within a range of time (or earlier).

In Japan, it depends. We have had to wait two and a half weeks to get Internet service!

In the US, always had fairly good service. Maybe you should change where you go pachipro!


Banks in Japan seem really slow, especially when you need to open an account. In the US it's fast, but you need more documents especially for a checking account.

Also, I have had restaurants in Japan where I was tempted to leave as I had to go looking for the staff to pay. Guess it depends on where you go.

One thing my Mom loved in Japan is the samples they give out at the department stores. They don't hold the tray away from you if you want more.

As to hours, actually 24 hour supermarkets just came recently to Japan. I was using them in the states back in the late 70s! And my parents don't live in a major city. The same with late hours health clubs, very recently arrived. been around in US metro areas for years.

As to fat/thin syndrome, I just noticed that whenever I see the French and Italian women in Europe, I almost drool as they have a little more 'up top' than the average Japanese. To each his or her own.
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