It’s been about 10 months since I moved to Prague.
I’m not sure how I could summarize my days because so many new things have happened and so many feelings have come in and gone by since I moved here. Sometimes it’s difficult to recall what I was doing and feeling and my memory is sometimes confusing, however, I’d like to write things down so that I will be able to recall these feelings in the future. Even though this is a very personal summary, I wish this gives you some insights into a relocation experience.

(This is the same post as the one I wrote on Medium.)

Learning English

One of the motivations of my relocation was to use English at work. I’m using English at work now and the amount of English that I use every day has increased a lot. (I know that the Czech Republic is not an English native country. Life decision involves a lot of factors, you know.)
To say it simply, I think my English has improved. I’ve been doing so many things to improve my English, and it started to pay off gradually. Probably the most improved part is that I got used to several English accents, for example, the one from the Czech people. Although I’m still familiar with American English the most, on which Japanese education is based, my understanding of Czech-accent English has improved a lot since I came here.

As I’ve been doing so many things about English, I’m not sure which trial was effective. However, the situation that I’m urged to speak English is the foundation of my motivation certainly.

I like talking about intellectual things like philosophy, science, or art. However, these are still difficult to talk about in English. These are difficult in my native language Japanese too. I hope I could improve my skill to the level.

Small (but very difficult) difficulties I encountered

  • Conversational phrases: Even if I could understand English at news programs, understanding casual conversational phrases including slang is a different thing. I’ve been studying this while watching some TV series now.
  • Big numbers: English uses thousand (1,000) as one unit (e.g. ten thousand, hundred thousand), but Japanese uses 万 (“man”) 10,000 as one unit (e.g. ten “man”, hundred “man”, thousand “man”). This difference makes converting large numbers very difficult.
  • There should be more that I can’t remember now…

Cultural differences

This is a bit difficult and sometimes sensitive topic. I encounter lots of situations that I don’t understand the intentions of other people.

If I pick one example, I sometimes feel people’s words are over-confident or simply inaccurate. However, it’s probably because of cultural differences. The same words can be interpreted in many ways, and the interpretation depends on the culture.

Even though there are so many situations in which I feel uneasy, it’s really difficult to explain the feeling in words. It’s probably because I don’t have the right words to explain those. Also, because I’m the only Japanese in the company, I need to figure them out somehow by myself.

So I started learning typical cultural differences by myself. I like solving issues by learning knowledge.

I’ve been reading several books about it. Especially, the Culture Map from Erin Mayer was really helpful to know the overview of cultural differences. It explained lots of situations very similar to the ones which I had. Moreover, according to it, Japanese working culture is so unique and extreme on lots of scales compared to other countries, especially western countries. I hadn’t realized it well, however, it explains some difficulties that the Japanese encounter when doing business outside of Japan.

Thank you for reading.