Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Not All Cultures Are The Same

I was fortunate enough to find a wonderful woman while I was travelling abroad.  I was working in Japan for two years and met her after being there for a month and a half.  We dated for 14 months and she moved in after 4 months.  We got married a year and a half after I got to Japan.
During the time that we were dating, she was a professional woman.  She worked as an executive assistant and because of the number of foreigners working in Japan is a very required position to help out with some day to day activities.   After I came back to the US, she stayed over to finish the year and joined me after that.  

When she did get over here she spent a fair amount of time trying to get a new job.  The American job market is considerably different than in Japan.  Many of the companies don't make use of administrative assistants or executive assistants like over in Japan.  Initially she was able to get some temporary jobs through a recruiter office, and eventually she found a more permanent job.  Here in the US though, the value of that position was much less than over in Japan.  While she took the job very seriously and worked just as hard, she never did come close to her Japanese salary.
One of the earliest differences she had to deal with is the change in transportation.  In Japan, she had access to a full amount of public transportation including rail and bus.  Now in the US, she gets to get a driver's license and has to drive everywhere.  In Japan the company was allowed to cover the cost of the employee to go to and from work, so the company would cover the cost of the rail tickets.  Initially in her visit she was sure that she would be able to use the public transport, boy was she mistaken.
After a while we had to receive packages and had to have service calls to the house.  Over in Japan, the shipping companies would give a relatively tight window.  Here in the US, the companies would give a 4 hour window.  Many of the service companies would give a window, and to date most of them would show up after the window.  For her this indicates that the companies don't value your time.  Over in Japan, if the company was late, it was very common for them to call and let the customer know.  This has not been her experience here in the US.
The final difficulty that she has encountered is the language barrier.  She has had to switch to using English for almost everything.  Japanese is not as high of value for language as other languages are in the job market.  After a while she has been trying to learn some businesses to work from home, but again, none of them have Japanese speakers as teachers.  Because of that she has been heavily relying on me to help her through the course material.  Even though the courses are equally applicable in both the US and Japan, there is just no desire to provide that language for the courses.  This has made it very difficult for her to find something other than just being a worker.

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