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[YRP Students' Essays] I Have Two Selves in Myself

The word "bicultural" means that one has been raised in two different cultures. I was raised in Korea and came to Japan to study abroad last year. In this sense, I am one of the cases of "bicultural" people.

When I first came to Japan, I was scared to go shopping, to get on the bus, to get the phone, or even to go outside. I was too passive. My parents always said to me, "Be active! Do not be afraid to make mistakes."

Since I entered senior high school, my Japanese improved. The real problem for me to live in Japan has been Japanese basic norm of behavior, what I thought was normal to Japanese. One of these is about privacy. Early in school life, I could not make friends easily. One day, I asked a girl to tell me her phone number. Just at that time, she looked very confused and went away. It seems that Japanese think that phone numbers are private. I think that Japanese in general tend to regard it as rude to ask the phone number to a woman directly.

The other episode happened on a train. When I rode on the train, there were some empty seats. When I tried to sit there, I noticed some old men try to sit there, too. I yielded the seats to them, but my friend sat down on it. I said, "Why don't you give the seat to them?"
"Because the seats are not for senior citizens," my friend replied.
"Isn't it impolite?"
"Why? There are many seats for senior citizens. The old men could sit in the other seats."
I was a little surprised. I could not understand his behavior at that moment. Of course, I do not want to say my friend was impolite. He might think that "Rules must be obeyed but the action which is not against the rule must be allowed."

There were many problems like these, but I should understand them. Almost all foreigners in Japan might experience cultural problems like these.

Of course, there is a good point. Living in a dormitory is a valuable experience. Dormitory life, like sleeping with friends in one room and eating meals together, changed my viewpoints greatly. I had wanted to live a conventional life. I was a little passive and did not want to make friends willingly. However, in Japan, I changed my lifestyle into a more active one. In Japan, keeping my old pattern of behavior was impossible. I participated in classroom and club activities. Living and studying alone in Japan has affected me very much. I could have open eyes.

Maybe I shall face many problems in the future. However, I am not afraid anymore. I want to learn more. I will try my best.

Child Research Net would like to thank the Doshisha International Junior/Senior High School and Joon-Yeop Oh, student and author, for permitting reproduction of this article on the CRN web site.
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