Intercultural knowledge

My interest in the Tomodachi scholars program was specifically in the desire to observe certain intercultural aspects that aren’t traditionally covered in Communicology. In my observations, I witnessed numerous aspects that I was unprepared for. I found myself asking about things that seemed to go unnoticed by our friends in the Kakehashi program. I wanted to know about three things such as red triangles that were facing with its point downward on windows, the fact that the left was preferred for walking, and clicking sounds that occurred at store entrances. There were other inquiries that other Tomodachi scholars observed that were unnoticed by me. Those inquiries were in the lack of trashcans and the reason why every time we said goodbye our host would stand to wave goodbye until we were out of sight.

When I inquired about the red triangles, preference for the left and the clicking sound most of our Kakehashi friends were unaware of the reason for my inquiry. To our Kakehashi friends, these were everyday aspects that seemed uninteresting however I found them extremely interesting. There answers for these differed from person to person on specific questions. For instance, when I asked about the clicking sounds three different answers were given for the reason for the clicking such as its used to keep animals out, it’s used to keep children from playing in the entrance, and someone told me that it was used to keep insects out. All together I realized that the clicking was used as a deterrent. The other question on the red arrows was google-able. Even when I asked our Kakehashi friends would google it and find that the red arrows are for emergency response to identify safety windows. The last inquiry on the preference for the left side was deducted from the side of the road to drive on in Japan. In Japan, the law is to drive on the left side this rule is followed even when walking. The norm to stand when facing forward is to the left.

Thanks to my time in communicology, I found myself prepared for traditions like slurping noodles (which impressed our Kakehashi, friends). It was extremely enjoyable to slurp noodles and be praised for showing some aptitude for Japanese culture. This experience had taught me plenty of new things, while there are many things that I can learn from a book. Learning abroad has opened my eyes to so many distinctions that have not been acknowledged in class.


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