Thursday, October 13, 2011

Emotional Issues and Determination

I should start calling this the Frustrated Exchange Student blog.

I'm not sure where my issue lies, or where I should even begin with this post. I know it's my blog, so technically, I can say whatever I want, but I am still very conscious of how I word my thoughts, and moreover, how these thoughts relay to other individuals. With that said, however, here's my disclaimer: There will be times when these posts are not happy, exciting, or monumental in any way, shape, or form. My life isn't interesting all the time. (Sorry to break that to you.) I'm a normal human being. With all of that off of my chest now, I'm not trying to hurt anyone's feelings; I just need to say things every once in awhile. Writing is my therapy.

Now, to the first frustrating point:

The first thing I would like to rant about for a moment or two is relatively petty. It's more of a pet peeve than anything. However, I always find myself biting my tongue and stomping away from my computer when I see these types of instances occur on facebook. It never fails. I post something in Japanese, or in romaji (the English version of a Japanese word), and I get a comment like this, "What does [insert word/kanji/romaji here] mean?" My gut response is as follows:

There is a website called GOOGLE TRANSLATE. Use it.

That's a little strong, so I usually end up biting my tongue and typing the definition. But I'm not going to do that anymore. While I don't mind talking about Japanese culture and giving a little background on things in this experience occasionally--usually within this blog--I am not the walking encyclopedia of Japanese information. I am learning, as are many of the other exchange students studying abroad. I do not know all of the answers, nor do I know why certain things happen or exist. It doesn't take five minutes to look up a kanji on the very helpful websites (a Japanese dictionary online/the most useful one) or  Google Translate. Please respect that my status updates on facebook are my way of giving little blurbs into my life, usually when I don't have time/am too lazy to write an in depth blog. I don't want to spend more time defining every little thing I say or type, especially not on Facebook. This issue makes me understand why teachers don't want to teach during the entirety of a class period; students will treat them as a walking encyclopedia rather than looking up the information themselves and learning on their own. While it may be expecting too much from my readers, unless it is a paragraph in Japanese, or google translate/ is not giving an comprehensible translation, please look it up yourself.

Point number two:

If you want to know about my life/experience why I am here, READ THIS BLOG. This is kind of a moot point since the people that read this typically are interested in what's going on in my time here. However, I am always happy to reply to e-mails if there are other questions about my experience as an exchange student. Which takes us to . . .

Point number three:

When on skype, I may sigh and sound annoyed at a few questions. I don't want to repeat myself very often, and when I repeat myself, I don't want to have to answer the same question twice. Many times, I have either written the answer to certain questions down, or spoken with someone (probably the person asking me) about it many times. If you feel that I  have not told you, please tell me, and I will apologize for my grumpiness, but there will be times when I just don't feel like answering the typical questions. Some examples of these questions, with my gut responses in italics, are as follows:

"How do you like Japan?"  What do you think? I've wanted to come here for seven years.
"Have you eaten dog or cat?" Are you stupid?
"Can you eat pizza in Japan?" Have you looked at my facebook photos?
"What's it like in Japan?" READ MY BLOG, LAZY [insert favorite curse word here].

I don't take ignorance very well. If you are interested in Japanese culture, research it. While wikipedia may not be a website you can cite for school papers or academic essays, it is a good place to get tidbits of information. You can also look things up on Google, or if you want to be safe, go to your local library. If you're reading these blogs and ask me these questions, I might be just a tish angry. (Unless I haven't written in awhile, then it's okay.)

Point FOUR:

Because Japan is a different country, actually, I should say, because Japan is a country that has stayed to itself for the majority of its history, it hosts a rather interesting and unique culture. So I may at times say, "You can't do something like that here." Literally, "だめだよ。" I am not saying this to be rude, I am saying this as someone that genuinely cares about Japanese culture. I also feel that as a foreigner, I have a pretty good understanding of the Japanese tatemae (public face) and honne (private face) concept. There may be times I become frustrated with my friends, family, acquaintances, etc. because they do not understand this concept. If you are planning to visit me while I am in Japan, please understand that I WILL get upset if I ask you to respect Japanese culture. I have written a few of the following down below. I want to make an instructional video about it, but knowing how I procrastinate, that won't happen.

1. Take your shoes off when you enter someone's house. It's rude to walk on the floor in "ouside" shoes. Think of it like gym class in elementary shoes.

2. If you are at a restaurant, someone's house, or in a situation where you do not like the food or drink, do not complain noisily. This is especially true of someone's house. If you have been invited, it is rude to say, "But I don't like this..." or "That's nasty..." or "EW... *Disgusted face* I am NOT gonna eat that!" (I think that if you do that at home, you didn't learn enough manners when you were little.) IT is respectful to at least try the food. There are polite ways to refuse food, and if you're interested in learning, I would be happy to teach you, but I won't do that here. Japanese people understand that the foreign palate is different, so if you at least try it, it shows that you are being respectful. Also, allergies are understood. Please don't eat something with peanuts in it just to be polite!

3. You cannot just ask somebody for a favor in Japanese as you would English, nor can you do things last minute. This has been particularly frustrating for me lately, as I am a pretty punctual person and like to plan things in advance anyway, but it's especially true with money, banks, hanging out, etc. Japanese people are VERY punctual. Just like in any country, there are certain courtesies that must be followed and obeyed when requesting a favor or duty. Of course these differ if friends are involved, but please understand this.

Man it felt good just to get those things off my chest. Again, I'm not trying to stomp on any toes, but I'm tired of holding this stuff in. I'm not going to answer posts on facebook regarding the stuff I write in my blog because I feel that if someone is really interested in my time here, they would take ten or so minutes a day to read and or check to see if I've posted.

Time to eat and maybe do some more homework. I took an eight hour nap. It's four in the morning.

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