Staying True to Yourself

“When my husband got a job offer in Japan, I was working in advertising as a designer and account manager in Mexico. It was super cool that he found a great job at good company, doing what he loves. But while I supported the decision to move here, what about me? What am I supposed to do in Japan? After all, next to family, people usually spend most of their time at work.

“Then I looked around me and noticed a lot of the people I know in Japanese language schools were in the same boat. They got married and moved here, but only one of them is in a good position while the other one is just muddling along life. If someone knocks on their door, they won’t know what to do because of the language barrier. But you can’t live in an English-speaking-bubble forever. If you need to go to the dentist, see a doctor, or get a haircut, you can’t always go to where there are English-speakers. That’s not living.

I also realized we have to keep being the person we were before going abroad. Although we must leave things behind, start afresh, and make new friends when adapting to life overseas, you have to continue who you truly are. I’ve met people who used to have great jobs before coming to Japan. They were in sales, marketing or tourism, but now work part-time at a combini (convenience store) after following their heart. It’s not bad, although kind of sad.

“It’s not always easy though. I looked for a job for almost a year and got nowhere. Some companies offered only unpaid work through an internship. I said no and pursued photography, instead, since it’s one of my passions. I found a Japanese photographer who took me under his wing and now I can finally say I’m doing something worthwhile.”

(To see Vivian’s photo gallery, visit:

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Finding diversity and inclusion. Breaking down barriers one post at a time. Stories and snapshots of foreigners making their way in Japan.

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