I’m totally alive guys


Life in Japan:
I have to read a lot and catch up a lot and live through impostor syndrome (I hear this is universal for postgrads around the world)

I’ve embraced conbini culture and eating out since I don’t have time to cook much (I hear this is universal for students everywhere). Somewhat related, i gained like 10 kg in 2 months. Like, wow.

I was also so stressed that my hair went crazy and I just cut it all off.
My Japanese doesn’t really feel like it’s improved despite my using it on a daily basis.
I got over my burnout :D:D:D:D
I have my admission exam in February and it’s a really hard Japanese language test D:D:D:D: because….
I’ve decided to do my postgrad in Japanese D:D:D:D:
The bureaucracy continues to be hell.
Been reading a lot of よしもとばなな lately.
Actually, been reading a lot, full stop.

I’ve been sunburned almost every day since April, despite the 50SPF sunscreen and my 99% UV block parasols. My skin is *awful*.
I’ve come to be wary of English, the academia, the Humanities, my concepts about Japan, my concepts around the world.
I’ve come to realise that I grew up in a really isolated community and that getting out of my country is not running away from it so much as gaining new perspective.
It’s really amazing to be in a university setting here (I think this goes for *any* renowed university in the world).
I’ve embraced my gaijin bubble.
I’ve only left my prefecture once in the past 6 months.
People ask me about japan and I can’t say that I’ve gotten much first-hand information on it. Whenever anyone questions things about it I tell them the stuff I know from books. This despite having talked to dozens of Japanese people since I’ve come here. It’s a bit weird, me and Japanese people. I’ve bonded with people from the US, from Australia, from South America, from Europe, from the Phillipines, from India, from China, but though I’ve talked to more people from Japan than from anywhere else I’ve not really felt that much bonding.
Japanese people think my Japanese is really cute.
The one time I left Nagoya everyone kept talking to me in English and I felt so bad since Japanese people can’t understand my accent but they try really hard. It made me really appreciate Nagoya since it’s a place where people default to Japanese and only switch to English if they’re really fluent in it (which makes sense), if there are people around speaking English (which makes sense), or if they’re only talking to you for kaiwa practice (which is helpful since I know not to stick around).
I get really flustered about what language to talk to foreigners when I meet them in the wild. Speaking of which, why *do* I notice foreigners in the wild? I swear, I’ve remembered a crazy amount of faces of people I never talked to despite having huge problems with face sin general. I also have this interesting phenomenon wherein I find myself sitting around foreigners, even if I’m not actively engaging them (case in point: I went to a 200 people parade last Saturday which had a grand total of 7 foreigners. I somehow, when completely randomly joinining in, managed to get right in the middle of it. Me and my friends actually tried to separate ourselves a bit further back or in front but we kept ending up in the middle of it. It was odd. I’ve had this happen multiple times, rarely consciously.

Things that I have trouble with that I wasn’t expecting:
Names. I learned Aristotle as “Ah-rees-toe-tell”, and had to familiarise myself with the English pronounciation of Aristotle as well as the Japanese one of アリストテレス. This goes for almost every name I’ve ever studied.
Academic terms.
Academic concepts.
The concept of research.
Taking notes.
That awkward moment when you actually start figuring out things in your field and then you can’t to back to being normal about things. A.k.a. did you ever deconstruct institutionalised values so hard that you don’t really know what’s genuinely your own thoughts and what’s simply your perpetuating embedded cultural values?
Cafes. Japanese has many corporate cafes and chain stores and izakayas. It has some genuine cafes, but I’m always afraid of going in since I feel like I’m intruding. It’s all really expensive. I never realised how much I need cafes in my life.
Whenever I meet someone from the same side of the continent as me I talk about things we have in common, which made me reconsider my country’s history from a colonial perspective and made me realise that we fit colonial values way more than I had ever thought.
I’m totally impolite. I cam here being all です・ます and then when I realised that people don’t talk like that to one another I dropped it for casual speech. Now I find it genuinely hard to go polite. Fairly sure I forgot my keigo entirely. On the plus side people compliment my Japanese all the time (not in the 日本語は上手ですね way), so that’s pretty cool.
Being a 早口 is both a blessing and a curse. on the plus side, you sound crazy fluent. On the other side, fewer people understand you than if you were to talk like a normal person. This goes for japanese and, to a much greater extent, to English.

God I miss dairy products.


2 thoughts on “I’m totally alive guys

  1. “It made me really appreciate Nagoya since it’s a place where people default to Japanese and only switch to English if they’re really fluent in it (which makes sense)” <– this caught my eye, but it doesn't make sense to me! Why is this the case in Nagoya? I'm told elsewhere in Japan, people will default to English even if their English is poor? Thanks for writing here and on Koohii!

    • Hey, I couldn’t really tell you why; I’d think it’s because Nagoya has a fairly stable non-tourist foreign population, but Osaka also seemed to have a lot of foreigners yet people defaulted to English whenever I asked for directions. There are quite a few people who will default to English, but not as strongly as I’d expect. We have this one elderly guy who works at my university conbini who refuses to use anything but English with foreign students, but he sticks out like a sore thumb.
      Then again, I also have pretty good Japanese so I might get cut more slack than others; I did notice that when I hesitate or express myself awkwardly around new people they can be quick to add English explanations.

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