I just passed my first two months in Japan. I'm now on a business trip back to the US and reconnecting with a lot of people who are, of course, asking me "How is it going?" It's a bit hard to answer because so many things are still just new and exciting. So my initial reaction is to say ask me in six months and I'll tell you!
At our internal field conference this past week in Atlanta, I had the chance to sit with my new team and the entire group from Japan (several 100 made the trip). I was so proud to be able to sit with this group, wear my "Microsoft Japan" hoodie and stand and applaud when they won the country subsidary of the year for Microsoft. I really believe I work with an amazing team across Microsoft Japan and then I work on an incredible team within that larger group.
The people I work with are capable, passionate and accountable to the things they commit to do. On the technical side, they really strive to deeply understand the technologies they work with to represent Microsoft within the Japanese market. I feel like I will be challenged in this team and I'm really looking forward to that.
I was really surprised about the amount of passion they put into their work. Not just work long hours passion, but the care and emotion they put into their work is great! Many people get a wrong impression of Japanese because they don't show as much external passion or emotion - for example, their reaction to the top award last week was very subdued compared to other team cheers in the arena. However, once you get close and have a chance to work day to day alongside as peers, you realize they are some of the most passionate professionals, striving for success with emotion and energy.
This all combines to create a very capable organization that just earned their third recognition for country subsidary of the year. Well deserved, and I'm proud and excited to work for this team.
On a personal side, we are adjusting and settling in, although it is taking some expected growing (or shrinking) pains for us. It's well known that housing in Japan is much more compact than in the US. For example, the temp housing we had in the US at Residence Inn for two days, was bigger than our temp housing in Japan we lived in for two months. We are now moved into our permanent housing which feels much bigger, but we are still struggling to put away all of our stuff despite having sold so much of it before we left.
The kids are adjusting well and enjoying living in Japan. They joined the public school system for one month before summer break and they made friends super fast. They were a bit sad to already move again to permanent housing, and know they'll be in another school after break.
I would say Aya and I are "surviving" at this point. No matter how much you prepare yourself mentally for a big move, it will still frustrate you, making patience and tempers short. Things never happen as fast as you'd like and you begin just wishing and hoping for the day that everything is settled and you can have a "normal" day in this new place. At the same time, we've had plenty of exciting moments of discovery, enjoying lots of great Japanese food and taking some time to have some fun.
Soon, we will be fully unpacked and have things arranged in the house. We'll have our new routine down, the kids will enter their new school and the Tokyo weather will cool off so we can enjoy being outside some more. So I'll check back in here in a few months and let you know how things are going after being settled.
And as I say to everyone, please come visit us. We want to open our new home and new country to all of our family and friends around the world. We made sure to have some extra rooms and beds to do just that. So please come visit us in Japan!