Surviving In Japan With Ashley Thompson


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On the podcast today, we speak to Ashley Thompson. Ashley is a freelance writer, living in Japan. She runs an awesome website called ‘Surviving in Japan (without much Japanese)’ where she offers valuable tips and ‘how to guides’ for setting up your life in Japan. We chat about first impressions, toiletries, cultural differences and medical care.

Ashley first came to Japan as part of the JET programme. After having lived in Seattle for 5 years, she was looking for a change which would push her outside of her comfort zone. She shares her first impressions of Japan, talking about the honeymoon period that often occurs when you arrive in a new country, as well as the difficulty of being dependent on others.

Elaborating on this dependency, Ashley discusses her experiences with medical professionals in Japan. Ashley had to cut her time, as a JET teacher, short due to a mystery illness. She shares the difficulties she had while seeking a diagnosis and treatment for this mystery illness, as well as detailing her experience of giving birth, to her first child, in Japan.

The prospect of seeking medical care in a foreign country can be especially frightening. There is the language barrier and cultural differences to deal with, in addition to often being far away from friends and family. Ashley speaks candidly, offering useful advice and sharing a balanced account of the positive and negative experiences she has had.

When discussing her mystery illness, she shares the difficulty of receiving multiple, conflicting diagnoses and the negative attitudes some doctors displayed when questioned. Moving on to pregnancy and childbirth, Ashley points out the financial compensation for giving birth in Japan as well as highlighting Japan’s excellent record – in having one of the lowest infant mortality rates of the developed countries.

Ashley talks about her pregnancy, labour and hospital stay after giving birth. Ultimately, she stresses the importance of finding a doctor that is the right fit for you – specifically, a doctor that is aware of the cultural differences – suggesting that mothers-to-be comprise a list of areas in which they are willing to compromise and areas that are non-negotiable.

For more from Ashley, you can head over to Surviving in Japan. You’ll find Ashley’s tips on a wide variety of topics ranging from bank transfers to sweat etiquette.

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