Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Not so "Easy Peasy" but very "Japanesey"

If I am to do any justice to the Internet community or to those who are interested in the JET Program (or any other program for that matter), then I would have to be frank and state that living in Japan is not easy

What?! What's so hard about living in a country that is so technologically advanced that they invent robots that can play the violin just for frickin' fun? If you don't know that answer or need to brush up, read the article "5 Things Nobody Tells You About Living in Japan" and become enlightened.

Japan doesn't sh*t glitter and Pokémon.
 Well, maybe not glitter.
In the U.S. I am a fairly independent person who has no problems whatsoever with everyday situations. This is simply not the case in Japan. Due to the need of constant assistance for the most mundane task, I feel as though I have regressed from adulthood. One reason for this juvenility is the huge language blockade. It’s a “blockade” because if it were something physical, it would look something like Gandalf the Grey standing on the Great Wall of China quoting that epic line:

Although I studied Japanese for quite some time, it didn’t prepare me for in-depth or complex conversations. It’s difficult to develop friendships or work-relationships when the language blockade does not let you pass the superficial. Luckily, the language blockade has not disrupted my relations with students as they thrive on superficial conversations. Japanese children are like tiny, drunk friends that love to comment on appearances. So far, they find my intonations (when speaking Japanese) and gestures cute, but I wouldn’t consider myself as “cute” when I speak English. Therefore, as a result of the language blockade, my personality has not carried over when I speak Japanese. 

Outside of work, the language blockade is affecting everything from making appointments to filling out forms. Stores or companies can refuse to assist me because they cannot explain (nor would I be able to understand) complex contractual terms. However, in cases when I am assisted by a patient employee, things will, and need to be, repeated to make sure that I completely understand. The smallest accomplishments feel like I’ve won the lottery, while failures feel as though my life is forever ruined. It’s a real roller coaster ride of emotions.  The language blockade doesn’t make me want to run back to the U.S, but it does motivate me to work harder on my Japanese in order to communicate more efficiently and so that I can show these Okinawans the true loca that I am. 

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