Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Aw, cool, blogger is in Japanese now, 'cause I'm in JAPAN

Sometime in the middle of last night it struck me exactly how terrifying what I’m doing is.  I’m moving to a foreign country for a year, and I’ve never even lived on my own before, not really.  Needless to say, not a whole lot of good sleeping went on, which means that I am writing this while REALLY TIRED.  Please forgive grammars and typos.

So I took a flight from San Francisco to Tokyo this morning.  Despite hearing stories about how much better Japanese airline food is than American airline food, I cannot say that I found this to be the case.  Yes, the dinner was almost entirely edible, but I could not bring myself to eat more than the fruit from the breakfast.  Of course, it probably helps that air travel makes me horribly queasy, and stress makes me queasy as well, so I was just a queasy factory.  YAY.

I spent a while watching X-Men: First Class with Japanese subtitles, which was exciting.  I’ve watched American movies dubbed into Japanese before, but never subbed.  Japanese subtitles are very strange, in that they will turn three lines into half a sentence.  And sometimes they’ll completely change what people are saying.  Like this (actual example from the movie):

The English dialog:
Charles: Are you ready?
Eric: Let’s find out.

The Japanese subtitles:
Charles: 大丈夫か? (Alright?)
Eric: ああ.  (Yes.)

Not a huge change, but the English dialog says way more about the characters.  They also cut pretty much all the snarky lines (although that’s mildly understandable, because there’s no concept of sarcasm in Japanese) and the fast-talking nerd humor.  Ah well.  It probably has something to do with how quickly you can read in Japanese, but then again, I read really slowly and I didn’t really have a problem reading the subtitles.

[/X-Men nerd out]

I also read Fahrenheit 451, which I have had on my shelf for about two years now and only just worked up the courage to read.  I was wincing through most of it (BURNING BOOKS AUGH IT HURTS MY SOUL), but Bradbury is such a good writer, his prose just kind of blows me away.  MUST READ MORE OF HIS STUFF.

...and then I landed and stuff got pretty lame.  So, first of all, being sleep deprived means that my motor functions start dying.  So useless things like hand-eye coordination go out the window, as do my abilities to judge distance (which are already sketchy at best).  So first I managed to fail at steering my baggage cart a lot, and then I managed to drop all the money I changed on the floor.  Fortunately, a really nice girl helped me pick all of it up...and then it turned out she was another Fulbright grantee.  Awesome times.  Except for, you know, the part where I kept dropping money as fast as I picked it up.

...and then I went to get the baggage delivery worked out and discovered you can't do takuhaibin (home delivery) without a telephone number!  Of course, the folks at my dorm didn't bother to mention this...or to give me a phone number to contact them...so I paid $8 for internet and looked up a friend's phone number to write down instead.  Of course, she's in Kyushu and won't be any help if they're trying to deliver baggage, but I'm going to friggin' hope they don't call that number.  (They said they could write down a friend's number...  They didn't specify which friend...  I AM JUST A DUMB GAIJIN; IT'S NOT MY FAULT.)

And then I couldn't figure out which bus I was supposed to take, but the nice lady behind the bus counter pointed me toward it and I ran like the dickens to catch it.  And then I met up with three other Fulbright grantees and we talked on the bus.  And then, to add further insult to injury, I managed to somehow lose my baggage claim slip, so I had to stay afterwards and hand over my passport to prove to the bus driver that I wasn't trying to steal my own suitcase.  AUGH.

But I finally managed to get to the hotel room, and went to the convenience store with a bunch of other Fulbrighters to buy onigiri and STRAIGHT TEA (oh, how I have missed straight tea).*  And then we hung out and ate onigiri and tried to figure out what was in mine (one of them definitely had wasabi and the other had some kind of ginger).**

You know how your eyeballs start feeling like someone’s been rubbing them with paper towels or something after you’ve been on airplanes for a while?  Yeahhhh.  Mine have been feeling like that all day.  I think it's time for me to sleep.  For reals.

Orientation starts tomorrow morning.  Hopefully it'll be pretty okay.

*Straight tea is kind of like normal black tea with sugar, except it's not grossly sweet like most sugared teas are, and is a lot lighter than most black teas.  Basically, it is everything you could want in a tea that is not prickly pear tea.

**It was 生姜のうま煮, which I assume is some kind of cooking technique and has nothing to do with horses.  Then again, I could be really wrong.


  1. Congratulations on your successful arrival! Miss you lots, but your hilarious blog will help make up for it :)

  2. I'm glad you arrived safely, although it sounds like quite a rough ride. My reactions:
    1) "so I was just a queasy factory." Win. I'm going to use that phrase a lot now.
    2) Japanese has no concept of sarcasm? How do the Japanese FUNCTION?
    3) Would you actually ever call yourself a gaijin?
    Miss you!