In the Spring Semester of 2017, I studied abroad in Tokyo, Japan at Sophia University and while I was there it was the prime time of shukatsu, or job hunting season. Throughout this time in the semester, I witnessed Japanese college students my age go through the arduous process of trying to find stable employment after graduation. It differed greatly from anything I had ever witnessed in the US. It was this process, as well as the many anecdotes I had heard from fellow classmates about what the Japanese work environment is like, that led me to my current project. With the help of my mentor, Dr. Niklas Hultin, I created a research project that aims to explore the experience of expatriate workers in the Japanese workplace. Focusing specifically on expat English teachers in Japan, I am using interviews to gather data on how expats experience stress and how gender and workplace norms affect their integration into the workplace.
During the research process, I spend a lot of time reading previous articles written on the topic in order to understand the current scope of knowledge related to the subject. I also recently returned from a trip to Japan where I began my interviews. I was able to conduct several interviews and create ties in the expat community in order to reach more participants for my research. The biggest thing I have learned through this experience is just how challenging qualitative data collection can be. Having to rely on others to be willing to participate in my study has had a big impact on my research design. I have had to alter my plans accordingly, but it has shown me the importance of adaptability, and having empathy for your participants.
Since this is my first independent research project, it has been an extremely valuable experience for me. I have gotten a taste of what research is like and learned a lot about the creation and conducting of research studies. As a Global Affairs major with a concentration in Global Economy and Management, I have also been able to learn about the process of internationalization in the workplace. With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics quickly approaching, Japan is aiming to greatly increase the number of foreign workers within the country – I myself want to work in Japan in the future as well. I hope my research can be used to help ease the process of integration for foreign workers in Japan. In the future, I also hope to expand on my topic and explore the experiences of expat working in different industries as well.