6 challenges to international relationships (and how to make them work)

Dating someone outside of your culture can be amazing for many reasons: you get to connect with someone across cultural lines, broaden your ideas about the world by learning about another’s experiences and ways of thinking, and also to share a life that spans countries and cultures.

However, it’s not without its problems. It can be hard to bridge cultural gaps and fit your lives together perfectly. While they are by no means exclusive to international couples, the following six points are common challenges in international relationships.

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10 surprising things about America (according to this crazy Japanese travel pamphlet)

Visitors to Japan are often perplexed or amused by some of its weird and wonderful customs: endless bowing and kneeling, slapping a face mask on at the first sign of a sniffle, the seemingly never-ending cycle of obligation-based gift giving. Then there are the differences between Japanese homes and those in other countries (I for one am sitting on the floor as I write this, eating potato chips with chopsticks to keep my keyboard clean). But how do Japanese tourists feel about the customs and habits of countries they visit?

A Japanese pamphlet offering advice to people travelling to America has surfaced on the internet, and it’s now been translated into English for you. Let’s take a look at some of the things Japanese people thought were weird about America, starting with … some crazy thing called “dinner plates”!

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7 things you should know before moving abroad

I’ve lived abroad three times in my life. Once was a homestay in France, once was a semester studying in Germany, and now I live and work in Japan. I don’t expect that I will ever move back to the States. I love Japan and have wanted to live abroad almost as long as I can remember. Even so, it has sometimes been challenging for a girl from suburban Arizona who didn’t even get a passport until she was 18, and lately I’ve been wondering what I would tell my younger self to better prepare her for this crazy expat life.

With the help of our globetrotting friends, we’ve come up with this list of seven things you should know before moving abroad.

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Japan gives the world a lesson in showing family devotion

If there’s one thing that Japan does right, aside from taxis, trains and their abundance of vending machines, it’s their focus on the family unit. Familial piety is an important aspect of the Japanese mentality and ensures the well-being of the country’s aging population. But family devotion isn’t just about offering physical or monetary support; it’s about attitudes. And Japan is paramount when it comes to expressing humility and gratitude. Here’s a wonderful collection quotes from Japanese netizens explaining what it is to express familial piety.

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15 quotes from manga characters to pick you up when you’re feeling down

We all know the power of listening to music when it comes to lifting our mood and helping us get over a bad day, but in Japan many people turn to their favourite comic book characters for inspiration. Showing courage, perseverance and optimism, these characters often share insights and wise words that can be a tremendous source of support for us all. Here are some words of wisdom from 15 famous manga characters. Pick a favourite and use it as your mantra to get you through the day.

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Summer brings bad breath – Here’s how to beat it!

The summertime heat can often cause a loss of appetite for a lot of people. I know I have days where I’d rather drink fluids all day long and rely on energy drinks to keep me going. On those days, even the things I do eat are likely found swimming in a bowl of cold broth.

Of course, this is unhealthy in a whole slew of ways, some more social than physical. Did you know, for example, that eating less can cause you to have bad breath? You’re not only doing your body a disservice when you skip a meal, you’re driving away your friends and colleagues by them breathing in their presence. Thankfully, we’ve got the full breakdown on what generally causes beastly breath and what measures you can take to prevent it.

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30 things that single women don’t want to hear

There are both good and bad things about being a single woman later in life, though living free is not always the lady’s choice. Years and years may pass, and relationships fail to find us. That doesn’t mean we don’t want companionship, it just hasn’t happened to us yet. Often, the time and place just never feel right for establishing that love connection, or maybe a worthy companion has yet to appear.

Regardless of the circumstances, there’s one thing that single women never want to hear, and that’s relationship advice. Sure, it’s fine if we ask for it, but otherwise, do us all a nice favor and keep your opinions to yourself. Your intentions may be noble, but your assumptions and attempted assurances are really just reminders of exactly how lonely we single women are. Trust me. Whatever you have to say, we’ve heard it all before. Here’s a list of 30 things you really shouldn’t say to a single woman, as told by the lovely ladies over at our Japanese sister site, Pouch:

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Five things not to do on a romantic getaway in Japan

Who doesn’t want to take a vacation alone with their special someone? Couples’ vacations are quite popular in Japan with both the young and old. In a country that boasts a wealth of hot springs, rustic townships, and even big tourist-centered cities, there is no end to exotic places to visit. Shared vacations can be a great way to learn more about the local areas and spend some time with your Japanese boyfriend or girlfriend.

But what happens after the first couple days of excitement wear off? What do you do when he starts snoring too loudly or she takes too much time picking out an outfit to wear for the evening?

Here are some helpful hints for couples looking to take a trip with their Japanese partner.

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What Women Really Think of Sex Talk; Were Salt-n-Pepa Wrong All These Years?

When a group of guys get together it’s not uncommon for the topic of conversation to turn to sex. Whether it’s true stories or just some blue jokes, the conversation will naturally float into X-rated territory every now and then.

And though some pretend it’s not the case, women can be equally, if not more explicit when it comes to talking about sex.  I could pull some columns from major women’s magazines that would make you swear you were reading Penthouse Forum. This is all without mentioning that 50 Shades of Pervy series that all you gals are into these days.

While boy and girls are well and fine speaking of naughty things among the same gender for some reason, when we cross paths, the topic of sex becomes a minefield of inappropriateness.  Topics of conversation guys would think nothing of bringing up with each other could easily become actionable in a court of law when in the presence of a woman.

NicoNico News recently went in search of that think blue line between appropriate and not ways to approach mature subject matter in the company of mixed genders.  Let’s see what they found.

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Life on a Budget and How the Salarymen and Women of Japan Make Ends Meet

Whichever way you look at it, life in Japan is expensive.

As well as Japan’s food, drink and fuel ranking among the world’s most expensive, compared to many western countries, land in particular is sold at a premium, meaning that accommodation can be costly, and even those with enough capital to consider purchasing a car often abandon the idea when they realise that they cannot afford to buy or rent the necessary parking space.

CNN’s “World’s Most Expensive Places to Live 2012” placed Tokyo and Osaka first and third, respectively, and thanks to the strong yen and weak dollar/euro/everything, coming to live in Japan has never been more financially challenging.

With this in mind, budgeting expert Yoko Hanawa at Yahoo! Japan shares some ways in which Japan’s businessmen and women tackle everyday life in this tough financial climate, and introduces a few ideas of her own that are worth paying attention to.

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