“Just So Happens” is a graphic novel by Fumio Obata, that addresses the issues of reverse culture shock in a story format, as Yumiko, the main character (a young Japanese woman who now lives in London) returns to Japan and finds it difficult to understand her feelings.
Reverse culture shock is that new way of seeing your home or country of origin or parents that can often be surprising. Even disturbing. Maybe you find that your parents are not what you thought they were before leaving home. You see them differently and maybe you don’t even like that you see them differently but you can’t help it. Home seems crowded. Or too noisy. Or poor. No one seems to understand. Everyone has expectations or asks silly questions. You find yourself unhappy with both countries or homes and do not know what to do.
This shift and struggle with adaptation is also sometimes called “Cultural Re-entry.”
This period of reverse culture shock will usually only last a short time up to a couple years. Then, you slowly learn to adapt and be more comfortable in both cultures/homes and able to see the good and bad of both without the same angry/critical edge.
You also have to deal with life back home moving on without you. Most of your friends will have moved on with their lives, getting married, maybe buying houses or moving away themselves, and having children. They also will most likely not understand the changes that have happened inside of you and sometimes this can be the most unsettling, or most discouraging.
Can you ever go back home?
Fumio Obata is a rare talent as storyteller and illustrator, and he addresses complex issues for a comic book artist including intercultural relationships and telling parents about them, the love-hate relationship with a new culture, conformity and more. As Rachel Cooke points out, “Fumio Obata is a Japanese exile himself – he came to Britain in 1991 to study illustration at Glasgow School of Art and never left – and perhaps this is one reason why his fantastic graphic novel Just So Happens feels so richly intimate; he knows all about the conflict of belonging. But it’s clear, too, that he is a talent to watch.”
Here is one review of the book, minus spoilers: https://thehungryreader.wordpress.com/tag/japan/
- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Author: Fumio Obata
- Publisher: Jonathan Cape (March 25, 2014), Guardian
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 022409663X
- ISBN-13: 978-0224096638
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 10.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
Besides Amazon, the hardback is also available from the publisher, The Guardian Bookshop.
Here are two other resources on reverse culture shock you may want to consider, either as a student going home after time abroad or if you grew up in a country other than your homeland and are planning to go to visit or live in a country of origin.
Travel and study abroad doesn’t have to ruin your life or future happiness. And LifeAfterStudyAbroad.com also has some good articles you may want to read.
If you are in school, there may also be local resources available to you, even free counseling to help you deal with the struggle of culture shock and reverse culture shock.