Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It was not amazing. It was not bad. It just was.

Chuocide. What you see in this video is similar to what I saw in Japan. Similar.
It's of officers of some sort cleaning up a train track moments after someone had committed suicide.

Remember an entry I wrote back in August, after I came home from my studies in Japan? It was called "My honeymoon stage was years ago," and I thought of it the other day when I came across this video while researching Japanese suicide rates for my HON 240 course (Science, Technology, and Citizenship).

It's taken me a while to actually finish this post. I'm not entirely sure of the reason, although I'm sure it has something to do with my reluctance to revisit my memories. But yesterday, in my HIS 104 course (The History of the Modern Non-Western World), we talked about reverse culture shock. A lot of students talked about how they experienced reverse culture shock upon returning from less-developed countries--how they dealt with returning to a world of material goods, and other such issues. Don't get me wrong. That sort of thing is important. But as this conversation went on, I became frustrated: Students who go to less-developed countries are not the only people who experience reverse culture shock. In fact, I went through at least a two months of near-depression and detachment. I didn't like going out and meeting people. I didn't want to talk about my experiences. When people asked me how Japan was, I always, always said "amazing!" even though that's hardly how I felt.

Studying abroad was such an experience. I don't know how else to word it. Of course I had fun. But the thing that sticks with me the most--the memory that continues to haunt me--is my witnessing the aftermath of a suicide (See: My honeymoon stage was years ago).
How am I supposed to convey that to people without depressing them to the idea of studying abroad? Who wants to hear that kind of story?

Anyway, this conversation in my HIS 104 class went on for some time until, to my great relief, the woman I sit next to (her name is Mallory--she studied abroad in Ireland for four months) spoke up and defended those of us who study in developed countries--and how we experience reverse culture shock to the same extent, just a little differently, than those who study in less-developed countries. We are no less affected by our experiences. Having access to clean water, hamburgers, and microwaves doesn't make our time abroad any less valuable, foreign, or memorable. My dark feelings about my experience in Japan are a testament to that.

1 comment:

Taka said...

i feel sorry about the train suicises.
i agree with you. all experiences from any differences are valuable!