At least once a year, I go to Korea with my family as a vacation. Through the multiple trips, I gained interest in the Korean culture, and I began studying Korean on my own since two years ago. During the trip I went this summer, I was able to communicate with people at shops and restaurants as well as with taxi drivers. At shops, I asked the workers whether they sell a certain product when I couldn’t find it. At restaurants, I ordered the food for my family as a representative and also helped my parents when they were paying for the food by translating between Korean and Japanese. Also, when riding on taxis, it is now my job to tell the driver where we want to go. When communicating with the local people, since Korea is a culture that values social hierarchy, I talk to the people in formal words since the people I communicate with are always older than me. Every time I communicate with the people in Korea, they always reply in Korean and some people even praised me with my Korean. From this experience, I learned how it is important to show affection towards another country and value their cultures in order to communicate peacefully and construct a good relationship with people from different countries.
When I was in 9th grade, I started going to a Japanese cram school, and this experience taught me how students attending normal Japanese schools communicate differs from how I, who go to an international school, communicate. In my school, even if we talk for the first time, we call each other in our first names. However, at my cram school, I was called by my last name when my classmates referred to me or talked to me. Moreover, since Japanese have different formality levels in the language, students talked to teachers in a formal manner. Some of my classmates even talked to me in a formal manner. In contrast, in an international school, the differences I find between the communication between two students and the communication between a student and a teacher are that students don’t use slangs as much when communicating with teachers and also call the teachers in last names. In other words, while Japanese shows social hierarchy, English doesn’t show any social hierarchy. Moreover, the attitudes are also different. Japanese people are more calm when talking to each other and wait for the other person to finish talking while they begin to talk while my friends at school sometimes convey their opinions midst someone talking. This might be because Japanese schools focus more on intelligence and the actual content they teach while international schools value social skills and expect students to share their opinions and ideas to their classmates. From these observations, I found that students attending Japanese schools communicate in a different manner from students attending international schools.