Saturday, September 17, 2011

引越しの日 (Moving Day)

Didn't do much worth talking about today.  Said goodbye to a bunch of Fulbrighters, hopped on the metro to Tokyo Station, wandered around so some other Fulbrighters could find omiyage* for people they're visiting, said goodbye to a bunch more people, and then took the Shinkansen to Nagoya.  My advisor met me at the station and took me to my dorm and also the supermarket, because he is generally a really nice guy.  He probably thinks I'm crazy, though, because I like karate (his response was, "But it hurts!") and also because I get flustered really easily and forgot random things at the grocery store so I had to go through the checkout twice.

I'm in a suite with three other girls: an American, a Japanese girl, and a Taiwanese girl.  I've met the American and Japanese girls briefly, but have yet to meet the Taiwanese girl.  My room is probably about the same size as my room last year, although it has a wardrobe instead of a closet.  Also, the ceiling light is pretty much dead, so I'm writing this in almost pitch blackness.  I'm going to ask the other girls if there are light bulbs I can change it out for or if I'll need to ask someone to do it in the morning.

This has basically been my first day of being homesick, although I think people-sick might be a better word.  I think it'll be better once I have a support network and people I actually know, instead of just being stranded on my own in an unfamiliar city.  It probably didn't help that I had to say goodbye to eight awesome people this morning, who I probably won't see again for a couple of months.

Ah well.  Life continues.  I need to get some business cards and revise my blurb in Japanese about my research project.  That and figure out what the heck is going on with my light.

Comments from last blog(s):
I've never heard of writing wishes and tying them up before, but I'll look into it!  Korea (and China, for the matter) have a lot of religious practices that are similar to Japanese ones, which is pretty unsurprising, given their proximity to each other (and the flow of ideas from China to everywhere else)!

Japan doesn't have a class system; about 90% of the population consider themselves "middle class."  What they do have is a hierarchy, which basically means that you always have to be aware of how the people you're talking to are related to you in the hierarchy, so you can talk to them with the correct level of politeness.  For example, the other Fulbrighters are at the same level as I am, my advisor is way above me, my senpai are above me, and my kouhai are below me.  But it gets more complicated than that.  Other professors (who aren't my advisor) are above me but at a distance, random people my age on the street are at the same level but at a distance (so I need to speak more politely to them than I would to my peers I know), friends are closer to me and on the same level regardless of their age (which is why I speak slangy Kyoto dialect with my almost-thirty-year-old grad school friends), and the imperial family will always be so far above me that I have to use an entirely different form of speaking to address them.  It's all very complicated, and a lot of foreign students give up on learning the system and try to be equally polite to everyone.

...and being a strict vegetarian in Japan is difficult.  If you say you're vegetarian (菜食主義), people will assume you eat fish and seafood.  If you say you don't eat meat of any kind, people will assume you will eat fish broth.  There are some purely vegetarian restaurants in Japan (I've been to one!), but generally it's hard to find purely vegetarian food.  If you cook for yourself, though, it's super easy!

*Souvenirs given as gifts.

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