Moving to Prague from Tokyo (1)

Hello, world. I’m Yoshikuni, an iOS developer who moved to Prague from Tokyo last year. It’s been about 10 months since I moved here.
I’m not sure how I can summarize my days since I moved here because so many new things have happened and a lot of feelings have come in and gone by. Sometimes it’s difficult to recall what I was doing and feeling, my memory is sometimes confusing, but I’d like to write things down so I will be able to recall these feelings in the future. This is a very personal summary, but I wish this gives some of you some insights into a relocation experience.

This first post is about a few topics regarding my professional career. There will be the following post about life.

Learning English

One of the motivations of relocation was to use English at work. (I know that Czech is not an English native country. Life decision involves a lot of factors, you know.) I’m using English at work now and the amount of English that I use every day has increased a lot.
Simply, I think my English has improved. I’ve been doing so many things to improve my English, it started to pay off gradually. Probably the most improved part is that I got used to different English accents, for example, the one from the Czech people. I’m still most familiar with American English, which Japanese education is based on, but my understanding of Czech-accent English has improved a lot since I came here.
Since I’ve been doing so many things about English, I’m not sure which trial was effective, but the situation that I’m urged to speak English is the foundation of my motivation for sure.
I like talking about intellectual things like philosophy, science, or art. But it’s still difficult to talk in English. It’s difficult topics to talk 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. But it’s probably because of cultural differences. The same words can be interpreted in many ways, and the interpretation depends on the culture.
There are so many situations in which I feel uneasy, but 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 actually had. Moreover, according to it, Japanese working culture is so unique and extreme in lots of scales compared to other countries, especially western countries. I hadn’t realized it well, but it actually explains some difficulties that Japanese encounter when doing business outside of Japan.

Thank you for reading. The next post will be about experiences in life.

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Yoshikuni

Software Engineer. Based in Europe since 2019, originally from Japan.