07 February 2014

Preparing Mentally to Move Abroad

Moving abroad. Moving to another country, for a longer time of period, definitely needs A LOT of mental preparation. I am not moving to be an exchange student, or student of a japanese school (at least not for some 1,5-2 years). So I will not be experiencing the studentlife of Japan, as all of my friends who've moved here is doing. That's a huge difference, in my opinion. 

Because I'm not moving here as a student, I've been reading a couple of blogs etc, of women who've moved here, as wives of japanese men. Not in particular housewives. Either they are housewives or workers. Whatever the case might be, I thought it's a good insight of how life in Japan ACTUALLY is for foreigners. 

Some of you might wonder, why would I not be reading foreign men blogs!? Well, let's just put it this way... because this is, believe it or not, the truth. It is absolutely harder for foreign women in Japan, than it is for men. Not just for foreigners. But for women overall. I have learned, through reading these different bloggers daily lives. That moving here, will be, in so many ways, a downgrade for me. It will be like taking a time machine, 50 years back. 

The information that I've received through researching on how life here can be, has in many ways made me absolutely frustrated. Some of the info I've stumbled upon, has simply made me upset, angry, sad. All of the discrimination. How can it still exist in the year of 2014!? Perhaps it is the Swede in me.. but for crying out loud... Where's the equality!?!? In Sweden, women (and some men) are fighting for even better equality. Even though we definitely are ahead of many other countries, we're still not satisfied. But that's just humans' nature. But here, I am shocked that the japanese women settles with their situation. I don't see any women fighting for better equality and so on. 

Tv is way too sexual, not just Tv, everywhere. In Japan, it is definitely not hard to find/see sexual discrimination, even though you're not looking for it. But still, the women don't bat an eyelid. Please don't get me wrong, but are the women too lazy to care!? Too weak to stand up for themselves!? What's the deal? I'm just curious. The salary that women get is way lower than what the men receives. Even though they perform the same job. Women can only loan half of what the men can, when they're taking a bank loan. Unless they've worked for a very, very long time.. then they might get lucky. And also, as a woman, you might get a loan, based on your husbands (!!!!) salary. So basically, it's not hard to get a loan due to criminal records, low credit, etc. It's hard because you're a woman. These are just a few examples why I feel upset with the society of Japan. Why won't the women try to make a change!? 

Now you might understand what I mean about taking a time machine 50 years back in time. Perhaps the west was like this around the 60's? I can't really tell since I wasn't even born. But I can imagine it easily anyway. And also, hierarchy in all it's glory.. but I still think it is way too excessive. Sure it is much needed when it comes to work, schools, and similar places. But in private, is it really that needed!? Of course we should respect the elders, or well, all the people around us actually. But HOW ON EARTH can another human being be more worth than another?!? No, just simply no! Since my childhood I've always believed in that every human is equally worth. But according to the japanese way, if you're higher up than another person in the hierarchy tree (or what you now should call it?), you deserve your life more than who is below of you. That... is.. just.. not.. acceptable for me. No.

For example my boyfriend's mother sometimes perform the whole hierarchy thing "on us". >>I'm not trying to badmouth her, since I absolutely love her. I'm just sharing some experience<< I find it a bit silly, and so does my boyfriend. But also, it is important to remember that she is older than us, and of course during the time she was raised, it was absolutely different. My boyfriend has got a much more open mind than most people in Japan do. And therefor he also do not have much of a sympathy for hierarchy. But we still do respect his mother, and follow the rules of hierarchy. In her home, we follow her, and her rules. That's just natural.

Yeah, there are a lot of cultural differences to struggle with. But I think I'm coping with it pretty well, and adjusting myself very much. Knowing at least two different cultures is healthy for us humans. I think it can help us grow as people. We receive a greater view on life, and can become even stronger as individuals. It might seem as I'm only complaining. But even though these are (remember, in my opinion), bad points of Japan, I'm still absolutely fascinated by these things. And overall I LOVE Japan!! 

Now, there are also some things that the people in Japan do not have to experience (I'm talking about the japanese citizens ATM). This is a matter of foreigners who marry, and or, have children with their japanese partner, and live in Japan.

First of all, for example when two people marries in Japan, they will be registered into the "Koseki". But if one of the person is a foreigner, the may only be noted in the koseki. The koseki is only for japanese citizens. The only way to actually be registered in the koseki, as a foreigner, is to either get a japanese citizenship, or to get adopted by your spouses parents. In some ways, this is like not being recognised as a family member. Just a tiny bit of discrimination or what!? Well.. to be honest it's not a major concern for me. But I know it is for some people (quite many actually) . I already know where I have my boyfriends family. They are very welcoming, and accepting. And I feel like my family has grown. So I'm definitely satisfied. Even after we would get married, I couldn't care less.

Then we have this thing that is absolutely stupid. Seriously sucks. And this is where I am very much concerned indeed. Alright so let's say that a foreigner marries a japanese. They live in japan, and finally decides to have a child together. Well guess what!? The foreigner will NOT be recognised as the mother/father of the child here in Japan. If your spouse would die, while you're having children together. You will not be the head of the household. Regardless the age of your child/ren, the oldest child will be the head of the household. Wow, really?

I would say that this is especially a discrimination towards the foreign women. Not being recognised as the 'real' mother, after giving birth, to your own, biological child, is right through discriminating. Of course it is discriminating for the foreign men as well to not be recognised as a family member. But I could only imagine in the future, if me and honey would have children. And the government, school, anything, here, would claim that I am not the real mother of my own child/ren would make me absolutely.. furious!? Maybe. But on the other hand, as a blogger wrote. It might also mean extra money every month. Since the japanese citizen will be recognised as a single parent, a check should arrive each month. Well.. thank you~ 

There are a lot more matters that I could mention. But I'm deciding not to. This post is already long enough. Anyway, I am really glad that I've started to look up information on how it actually is to live in Japan as a foreigner who isn't here for a/some years of study only. But for who is actually living here more permanent. I know that for some, or many people, this would absolutely scare them off to move here more permanently. But I've already made the decision to move here. I've never been a quitter, and never will be. Instead, I'll always try hard to make the best of the situation. And together with my sweetheart, I know that whatever obstacles I/we might have in front of us.. we'll overcome them. Sometimes he worried so much about whether I'll be fine or not here in Japan. I guess his family also have had the same concerns. It's a huge step. But I am a very strong girl. Life is sometimes about taking the risks. I know our life together will be great in the end. I'm not gonna leave any regrets in my life. And neither should you.


  1. Wow, Amanda! It really sounds different. Good luck! :-). I wish all the best for the two of you.

  2. So exiting! But are you getting married or how will you obtain a visa? I'm very interested since I'd love to go to Japan for a longer period of time and want to know if it's possible to go on something that's not a study visa.

    1. Hejsan! Fortfarande så är de enda sätten att få visum/stanna här just nu, som sagt, som student, arbetande, om man blir inbjuden, och dylikt. Men den goda nyheten är att dom håller på att arbeta fram ett "working holiday visa" mellan Sverige - Japan. Det kommer ju underlätta mycket. Håll ut.. det bör komma inom en ganska så snar framtid :) Kram