This was the first time for me that I have ever visited the United States and studied abroad. So I experienced many cultural differences and felt American style in many situations both in daily life and in work even though our stay was only two weeks.
Since I had ever visited many countries before this program, I didn’t think I struggled culture shock between America and Japan. But actually I did. For example, I have known that customers in other countries are not superior to shop assistant but they are equal situations. So their speaking styles are usually friendly unlike Japan. But I realized American have especially too much ‘small talk ‘ in any shops compered to other countries that I had been to. I’m so surprised that culture that I told Japanese ambassador about that story. He answered that it is because America has so many people who have different backgrounds. So they have to have such kind of communication in dairy life in order to show no hostility. By contrast, Japanese has culture which people should understand each other with few words. I had thought it is more comfortable to be spoken to formally by shop assistant. But maybe it is only because I am unfamiliar with small talk.
And living with local people was completely different from just traveling abroad. American are discuss about social or political issues such as feminism in everyday life unlike Japanese students. And they have positive attitude to express one’s opinion. Considering that point it is advantage of this program to talk with people who are approximately the same age of us.
As for lectures, the topic I want to learn more is the American religion. Since Japanese are not keen on religious matters compared to American, it was almost first lecture about religion in my life. I didn’t know even Protestantism divided many group, including Evangelicalism and Mainline. And now, professor said, many Americans become not belonging to any religion or switching to other religion year by year. She said that one reason of this is Islam phobia. The switching across religion makes sense, but I couldn’t understand how can people who had depended on particular religion become a member of no religious group? Can an earnest believer become same as me that having nothing to faith from the day of my birth? Above all, the act of believing something as religion itself is interesting enough. And the field trip for evangelical or mainline church made my understanding stronger. Our visit of the black church completely overturned my prejudice of mass because I had thought believers regard their religion as serious and strict thing. Although I couldn’t figure out the church was belonging to which religious affiliation at that time, I’m really surprised at the lively atmosphere in church. Everyone laughed at ministry’s jokes and shouted the word “unity” repeatedly. They seemed to enjoy the mass itself. It was very impressive memory for me and I realized that maybe almost all I had known about religious was depended on my images or prejudices.
I’m very happy to know such difference and now I like both America and Japan much more than before.