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Old 11-27-2005, 08:00 AM   #1
JeorgeNoxeref

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Sounds like you could be talking about living in the US Mac. Seems that it is the same in most western countries nowadays. I wonder why it is so universal?

The funny thing about reverse culture shock is that I do not feel it when I return to Japan. Maybe I will when I move back permanently in two years, but when I visit I feel as if I have returned "home" if that makes any sense. I am more comfortable there than anywhere. Strange, but true.
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Old 06-06-2007, 02:13 AM   #2
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Default Reverse Culture Shock
Everytime I go back to Europe after living in Japan, I am subject to some sort of reverse culture shock, as I am no more used to how things are done in my own country. This time (I am writing from Belgium now) is maybe the strongest I have experienced so far.

- Going to the supermarket, the check-out assistant started chating with the previous customers for at least 2 whole minutes. I was waiting behind and already had my credit card ready, but she took no notice and continued chatting. This would never happen in Japan. I was on the verge of taking her name and complain to the direction for her lack of professionalism (but didn't as I had better things to do).

- I am always amazed at how Latin people (including French speaking Belgians) are unpreocupied about time. It seems normal to wait 10 or 20 minutes for someone when you had agreed on the time to meet before and they hardly apologise for being late. I just can't tolerate this kind of behaviour anymore. In Japan people get to appointments right on time (or a bit before) or at least have the courtesy to call if they are going to be more than 5 minutes late. The only exception is when they are the customers.

- My parents had to call the plumber to repair something. Not only can't the guy say with precision when he'll come (not just the time but even the day), but if we don't call him back 5 times he just forgets to come. Again, in Tokyo we call and the guy is there within the hour.

- In Belgium, it seems that the expression "the client is king" is devoid of meaning. I sensed that especially in restaurants where people are made to wait for 30min or 1h before being served. Apparently rather than recruiting more staff in the kitchen they prefer to make people wait so as to avoid additional costs. When you want to pay your bill, sometimes it takes an eternity before you can get the waiter to bring it to you (or get you change/credit card back). If they don't bring you the bill, the best solution is to get up and leave slowly. If they still don't come, just leave without paying. I have already done it once in a cafe as the staff really didn't seem to care. If they don't want to get paid, that's their problem after all.

- In Belgium, shops are almost all closed on Sundays (even big supermarkets or some bakeries !). Some even close on Mondays too. The rest of the week, most shops close at 6pm, except big supermarket that are sometimes open till 8pm. That's a big change from Tokyo where most shops are open all week till late and every neighbourhood has its bunch of 24h/7d convevience stores (forbidden in Belgium to protect small shop keepers and workers : )

- it takes 2 weeks to 1 month to get an appointment at a specialist doctor's !

There are probably other things too, which we come back to mind later.

What about you ? Has any of you experienced reverse culture shock after living in another country (e.g. Japan) for several years ? View more random threads same category:

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Old 06-05-2008, 08:43 AM   #3
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It didn't take several years of living in Japan for it to be a shock to return to the US. After only half a year, you can notice a variety of things you thought were the norm. The absolute first thing I noticed was how many overweight people there are. I'm not skinny, but people in the US are on a whole other level. My host mom used to tease me all the time about being in sumo training, but I felt thin after being back to parts of so cal. I was also struck by how lazy some people can be. After having grown accustomed to walking great distances simply because it was cheaper during my travels in Japan, I consistentnly ran into people who couldn't be bothered to walk 3 city blocks. I feel there's a definite correlation, and perhaps some causation involved with the aforementioned experiences.

I definitely empathize with the poor customer service as well. Not only was I used to simply yelling "sumimasen" whenever I needed something, there was also the occasional button that could be pressed. Trying to get the attention of your server in some places here makes me feel like I'm getting ready to land an F-16 on the deck.

I think the biggest change (I wouldn't call it a shock, because I'd been dreading it for weeks) was the change back to driving EVERYWHERE. Public transportation in LA is notoriously underdeveloped and at times downright dangerous. I loved getting to a nomikai and seeing everyone happily engaged in the imbibement of alcohol because there was no need for a DD. The train system isn't perfect in Japan, but I appreciate the convenience of an established public transportation system, whether it be Japanese or otherwise, despite what may be perceived as high cost.
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Old 06-05-2008, 08:56 AM   #4
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oh its like that in america too. i hate it. people can really suck
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Old 06-05-2008, 09:35 AM   #5
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If they don't bring you the bill, the best solution is to get up and leave slowly. If they still don't come, just leave without paying. I have already done it once in a cafe as the staff really didn't seem to care. If they don't want to get paid, that's their problem after all.

Hahahaha! Sorry, I just can't help laughing!
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Old 06-05-2008, 09:51 AM   #6
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After having grown accustomed to walking great distances simply because it was cheaper during my travels in Japan, I consistentnly ran into people who couldn't be bothered to walk 3 city blocks. I feel there's a definite correlation, and perhaps some causation involved with the aforementioned experiences. Everyone seems so surprised when I don't mind walking over 10 minutes and even up to an hour over there, whether that's the lazy Westerner stereotype or true of other Japanese is difficult to say.

Other major annoyances would be like getting back last week first thing at the bus shuttle stop some lady comes up with her cell phone and starts complaining about not being able to access all her messages, asking where I'm going, worrying about the bus late etc. I just despise the breaking of the politeness barrier like that so much here. Plus all the complaints on the plane about not having this or that feature or service or whatever. I'm glad to have my country known and appreciated overseas, but dealing with some of these people can be an embarrassing hassle.
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:30 AM   #7
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My own experienceof this was ... once ... returning to England from North America!

Same language ... but otherwise ....

Americans and Canadians might well feel that their own folks are rude and discourteous ( and they can be .... !) but - as a returning "Brit" I was quite shocked at the general level of disdain and downright rudeness from folks that I received.

As a qualifier - I should remark that, having the same accent and obviously being a Brit - there was some confusion about me not being totally at ease with the currency, costs and practises ... but ... I did explain !

But on finding out that I was an "ex-pat" - I seemed to invite a strange form of jealous hostility. Damned if I know why !

Sorry folks ... but, sadly, my fellow countrymen did not receive a Michelin Star for their performance !

My German cousins were actually much better !

Regards,

W

(PS - Canadian born Nissei geneticist and TV personality, David Suzuki - who doesn't speak a word of Japanese - remarked once that he had, apparently, had similiar experiences in Tokyo !)
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Old 06-05-2008, 03:42 PM   #8
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It didn't take several years of living in Japan for it to be a shock to return to the US. After only half a year, you can notice a variety of things you thought were the norm. The absolute first thing I noticed was how many overweight people there are. I'm not skinny, but people in the US are on a whole other level. My host mom used to tease me all the time about being in sumo training, but I felt thin after being back to parts of so cal. I was also struck by how lazy some people can be. After having grown accustomed to walking great distances simply because it was cheaper during my travels in Japan, I consistentnly ran into people who couldn't be bothered to walk 3 city blocks. I feel there's a definite correlation, and perhaps some causation involved with the aforementioned experiences. I'm going to have to agree with Androo on this one. It's always the tubby people I first notice when I'm back.
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Old 06-06-2008, 02:05 AM   #9
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Agreement on the fat people.

Otherwise, the first time I went back to Canada, I just felt everything was so large and wide. I would never see a even a Dodge Ram in Japan.

Hmmm, also the waiters and waitresses suddenly seemes to be a minor annoyance, starting up conversations with me. They never do that in Japan, unless it's a well known customer, or a customer that initiates the convo.
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Old 06-06-2008, 02:20 AM   #10
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As far as I know, morphology is not part of "culture". Therefore fatter people do not constitute a "culture shock". So this discussion is slightly off-topic.
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Old 06-06-2008, 03:04 AM   #11
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Nice to see you posting again Maciamo! I was wondering where you were. I have to agree on almost all your points as it is exactly the same here in the states and it was, and still is, quite a culture shock! Welcome to the club of "The Foreigners Who, Having Lived in Japan, Feel That There is Something Seriously Lacking Across the Board in Their Own Country or Town."

I know I am just repeating what others have said but these are my observations. Customer service is almost nil here in the US. Getting someone to do any work is like pulling teeth as they never arrive on time nor is it finished on time and rarely within the price quoted. The same goes for delivery of items ordered. They say here also that "the customer is king". But it must be the king of being ignored. People don't arrive on time or keep to their word on almost anything. Most workers couldn't care less about the job they are doing or the product they are producing. They feel that "the company owes me!" This is happening across the board in all aspects of life here. I just can't understand it, so I know exactly what you are experiencing.

Here in the US waiters and waitresses expect a 20% tip even though they give lousy service. But when I receive lousy service I leave no tip or a very small one. In Japan tipping is not required nor is it expected. Therefore, the waiters/waitresses usually give extraordinary service as that is what the manager expects of them or they are let go.

Also, the majority of people here in the US are fat and I do mean fat! It's almost like they don't give a damn or what they look like as long as they are able to eat. The big thing here in the US now is what fast food chain can supply the biggest burger or meal that people can eat in one sitting. And that meal is usually over 1,000 calories. Even breakfast sandwiches are pushing 750 calories and above! I can't make sense out of it.

And most people dress like slobs in public wearing only raggedy shorts, a stupid t-shirt with some stupid logo on it, and flip-flops or dirty sneakers and a ball cap for the men. Almost no one dresses "sharp casual" with at least a button-up shirt and clean sneakers when going shopping or to a restaurant. One can almost always pick out the American tourists in Japan, and maybe other countries, as they always dress the same as above and, basically, look like slobs. They should be ashamed of themselves or maybe I have lived in Japan too long.

However I have noticed in the last few years in Japan that the younger generation, especially young girls, are getting quite fat. At least they seem to lose weight and look a little presentable in their 20's, 30's, 40's and older. I do hope that these young girls do not take this overweight thing into their older years.

At least when I go to Japan I know that I will receive immediate service in a restaurant or store. That I am king being the customer and they make me feel that way, that people arrive on time and do the work promised in the alloted time and for the amount quoted, and that people do what they say they will do. I know that trains will arrive on time, that taxi drivers are polite, and people always welcome me into their place of business and show a sincere appreciation for having done business with them.

It may be something that we foreigners sometimes take for granted when living in Japan, but when we return to our own countries we honestly do miss it.

Good observations!
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Old 06-06-2008, 06:12 AM   #12
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Everytime I go back to Europe after living in Japan, I am subject to some sort of reverse culture shock, as I am no more used to how things are done in my own country. This time (I am writing from Belgium now) is maybe the strongest I have experienced so far.

- Going to the supermarket, the check-out assistant started chating with the previous customers for at least 2 whole minutes. I was waiting behind and already had my credit card ready, but she took no notice and continued chatting. This would never happen in Japan. I was on the verge of taking her name and complain to the direction for her lack of professionalism (but didn't as I had better things to do).

- I am always amazed at how Latin people (including French speaking Belgians) are unpreocupied about time. It seems normal to wait 10 or 20 minutes for someone when you had agreed on the time to meet before and they hardly apologise for being late. I just can't tolerate this kind of behaviour anymore. In Japan people get to appointments right on time (or a bit before) or at least have the courtesy to call if they are going to be more than 5 minutes late. The only exception is when they are the customers.

- My parents had to call the plumber to repair something. Not only can't the guy say with precision when he'll come (not just the time but even the day), but if we don't call him back 5 times he just forgets to come. Again, in Tokyo we call and the guy is there within the hour.

- In Belgium, it seems that the expression "the client is king" is devoid of meaning. I sensed that especially in restaurants where people are made to wait for 30min or 1h before being served. Apparently rather than recruiting more staff in the kitchen they prefer to make people wait so as to avoid additional costs. When you want to pay your bill, sometimes it takes an eternity before you can get the waiter to bring it to you (or get you change/credit card back). If they don't bring you the bill, the best solution is to get up and leave slowly. If they still don't come, just leave without paying. I have already done it once in a cafe as the staff really didn't seem to care. If they don't want to get paid, that's their problem after all.

- In Belgium, shops are almost all closed on Sundays (even big supermarkets or some bakeries !). Some even close on Mondays too. The rest of the week, most shops close at 6pm, except big supermarket that are sometimes open till 8pm. That's a big change from Tokyo where most shops are open all week till late and every neighbourhood has its bunch of 24h/7d convevience stores (forbidden in Belgium to protect small shop keepers and workers : )

- it takes 2 weeks to 1 month to get an appointment at a specialist doctor's !

There are probably other things too, which we come back to mind later.

What about you ? Has any of you experienced reverse culture shock after living in another country (e.g. Japan) for several years ?
Hey Maciamo !! Welcome back, I agree on every point as it annoys the heck out of me too, and I only spent 3 weeks in Japan...makes you wonder why I didn't want to come back to Belgium right ? :P
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Old 06-05-2009, 01:18 PM   #13
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As far as I know, morphology is not part of "culture". Therefore fatter people do not constitute a "culture shock". So this discussion is slightly off-topic. Good point. Instead, I should have mentioned the American obsession with "Super-Sized" portions. (Which indirectly leads to rampant obesity.)

A great example: Last summer on the way home from the airport I stopped at a well known food chain (Portillos) for a sandwich. Being used to ordering "large" drinks in Japan, I ordered the bigest size drink in the restaurant.... oh boy. How can anyone possibly drink that much coke and not get sick? It must have been over one liter.


Funny, I remember a quote I once heard by Teddy Roosevelt, "Americans like big things..." (I think it was him. He went on to make a list of things Americans liked big. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.)

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Old 06-05-2009, 05:52 PM   #14
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As far as I know, morphology is not part of "culture". Therefore fatter people do not constitute a "culture shock". So this discussion is slightly off-topic.
Point taken, but I see the body condition of portions of the American people as reflective of some aspects in American culture, as fragmented and ambiguous as it may seem. If we simply talk food, and can agree that food is a part of culture, when I think of American food, I think of hamburgers, barbeque, fried chicken, and things of that nature. Seeing things like "The Glutton Bowl" on American TV, eating contests, oversized portions, the taking home of leftovers BECAUSE portions are so large all reflect poorly on American food culture. Food culture in many other parts of the world are just as indulgent, so what makes Americans seem so fat in comparison? Why do people who eat way more than me in Japan, Italy, wherever not show similar effects of those foods? It is a result of not only the kind of foods they consume, but of lifestyle choices (like walking instead of driving short distances) that may be indicative of differences in culture in general.

I understand that simply saying "fat people" is a bit simplistic, but it is certainly representative of aspects of American culture.

BTW, despite having grown up in a country, does it ever, after living in different country and calling it your home, fail to be reverse culture shock and simply become culture shock? I suppose it could be never meh, just food for thought.
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Old 06-05-2009, 06:33 PM   #15
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Good point. Instead, I should have mentioned the American obsession with "Super-Sized" portions. (Which indirectly leads to rampant obesity.)

A great example: Last summer on the way home from the airport I stopped at a well known food chain (Portillos) for a sandwich. Being used to ordering "large" drinks in Japan, I ordered the bigest size drink in the restaurant.... oh boy. How can anyone possibly drink that much coke and not get sick? It must have been over one liter.


Funny, I remember a quote I once heard by Teddy Roosevelt, "Americans like big things..." (I think it was him. He went on to make a list of things Americans liked big. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.)

Ha, I noticed the same thing when I have been going to the US. Especially at fast food places. Once at McDonald's I ordered this frozen yoghurt thing, and the girl there made it huge, i mean hugeeeee, i was like whaaaaaaa ? yumm

As far as this idea of backward culture shock goes I have it everytime I go back, and I will try to make some careful observations this summer when I go back to my country for holiday. One thing is the cars stopin to let pedestrians walk in the white lines/ zebra lines, whatever you call them. Here in Belgium everyone, almost everyone will stop since like 5 or so meters away to give priority to people, whereas in my country no body stopssss, crossing the street is like a race for your life

I rember last time seeing this car aproachin and I was like oh he should be stopping now, then ralizing wtf this guy ain't stoping, it even seemd as he was going faster, I ran like crazy. Well maybe i'm exagerating a bit but this is one of things that comes to mind
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Old 06-05-2009, 07:09 PM   #16
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My own experienceof this was ... once ... returning to England from North America!

Same language ... but otherwise ....

Americans and Canadians might well feel that their own folks are rude and discourteous ( and they can be .... !) but - as a returning "Brit" I was quite shocked at the general level of disdain and downright rudeness from folks that I received.

As a qualifier - I should remark that, having the same accent and obviously being a Brit - there was some confusion about me not being totally at ease with the currency, costs and practises ... but ... I did explain !

But on finding out that I was an "ex-pat" - I seemed to invite a strange form of jealous hostility. Damned if I know why !

Sorry folks ... but, sadly, my fellow countrymen did not receive a Michelin Star for their performance !
I agree their are numerous "yobs" in britain.

But plz dont think that everyone is like that.
The yobs are small in number if you look at the bigger picture.
And it also comes down to the place you come to in britain.

Just make a note that not all brits are the same.
Which i am sure you have,

- Ermac, A Nice Brit.
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Old 07-08-2010, 12:36 AM   #17
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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.
I can't comment on 'reverse culture shock', but can say that in England, each time I go for a routine check-up at the dentist I have to wait 30-45 minutues and sometimes an hour. It infuriates me (as I have to arrange time off work specially to take these appointments and make up the time out of my leisure time _) but if I walk out, a new appointment can't be scheduled for a couple or several months. :
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Old 07-08-2010, 03:55 AM   #18
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I had a new reverse culture shock today. I went to a department store, and arriving at the cashier 15 minutes before closing time, the cashier told me to go to another cashier as he had to catch his train and "didn't want to do extra time". AFAIK, there are paid to work until closing time, not 15min before to catch their train. The other cashier, at the other end of the floor, was already closed too, so I had to look for some staff and also beg them to let me pay !! This is really not a "customer is king" kind of country. Such a contrast with southern Asian countries where I travelled where people stick to you trying to sell anything and won't take no for an answer.


I can't comment on 'reverse culture shock', but can say that in England, each time I go for a routine check-up at the dentist I have to wait 30-45 minutues and sometimes an hour. It infuriates me (as I have to arrange time off work specially to take these appointments and make up the time out of my leisure time _) but if I walk out, a new appointment can't be scheduled for a couple or several months.
Is that for a GP or a specialist doctor ? In my case it was a GP.

But I heard that Britain had a serious shortage of doctors, and that the NHS even allowed patients to be treated abroad so as to cut off queues at British hospitals.
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:37 AM   #19
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i lived in australia for 9 months after coming back to the netherlands it was hard, most anoying thing.. the Rush.. run to the bus, walk fast, talk fast.. australia was just relaxed ( sometimes a bit to relaxed... )

people are much more rude in this country, straight forward!!!

streets were more dirty... and the euro.. aaah please give me the ozie dollar, and the ozie supermarket,, i save around 40% on my shoppings there!!!!!
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Old 07-08-2011, 12:25 AM   #20
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Is that for a GP or a specialist doctor ? In my case it was a GP.
But I heard that Britain had a serious shortage of doctors, and that the NHS even allowed patients to be treated abroad so as to cut off queues at British hospitals.
In my case it was for the dentist. My dentist is still National Health Service (but a very high percentage - I think it's something like 80% but I can't be sure! - of dentists no longer take NHS patients ). I'm sure if it had been a private dentist I wouldn't have had to wait so long!

It's a long time since I've been to the GP and I haven't been very often so have never experienced ridiculously long waiting times (also it is a very small local surgery). However, my nearest hospital (the major hospital for the city) is well known for it's crazy waiting times in A&E during which people have been known to die on trolleys in the corridor, and sit around for hours with broken bones or rapidly-worsening conditions (I personally know someone who sat there for 8 hours with a broken leg). The health services here can be really bad sometimes. ... but that's another rant... sorry!
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