Friday, April 2, 2010

4月2日 Day 9: The Cultural Divide

I went to orientation yesterday and it was SO EXHAUSTING. I went on an empty stomach with no coffee and was having a lot of trouble staying awake through the hours of broken English explanations.

Yesterday proved to be a huge disappointment as far as my Japanese aptitude. No amount of studying could have prepared me for that placement exam. Even if I had remembered everything I learned in my last 4 semesters of Japanese, it wouldn't have been enough. The things I had learned covered the bare minimum of what was on the test. I'll probably be placed in the Japanese 2, the class just above Beginner's Japanese.

The exam was split into 2 parts: Kanji and then Reading and Writing. I could only translate 10 of the 100 provided kanji and had to skip 2 parts of the Reading Comprehension section because I literally couldn't read it! In the last Writing Section, we had to write a 5 sentence paragraph based on 3 different questions. The question I chose to answer was "What do you normally do on weekends?" because the other 2 questions looked like they were in Chinese.

There's so much to do before school starts next Monday. I have to set up my e-mail address, register for classes, buy a cell phone and... I don't even know!! They gave us this FAT packet full of stuff that I have yet to delve into, but I think I should be ok as long as I take it in small manageable chunks.

After all that orientation and test-taking nonsense, we attended a Welcome Party hosted by our Japanese student leaders. It was really sweet. The administration had provided us with a bunch of little cups filled with soda to do a toast to our future life in Japan. Kampai~!

Then the traditional Japanese instrument club did a music demonstration for us. The music was very, very, old fashioned; stuff my Grandpa would have loved. Three guys played a shamisen, some flute thing and one guy sang. I was really enjoying it until these obnoxious kids in the back started whispering and making side conversations. A few whispers don't seem like a lot-- but they started building and building to a point where they basically over-powered the music.

As I learned in my Japanese class etiquette section of orientation, Japanese teachers do not say anything in protest of your rudeness-- they expect you to figure it out. Too bad all these stupid people were completely oblivious to how disrespectful they were being. It was basically the best representation of the cultural divide; Japanese people are dead silent during presentations while all the Westerners (Europeans included) had to chit chat. Of course, none of the administrators said anything.

Even during the karate demonstration, people kept talking. I thought, "Wow, you can't even shut up when someone's getting his ass kicked?" COME ON.

Despite the rude Westerners, the night went off pretty well otherwise. The food was good and was served in bite-size portions. I would have been hungrier if I wasn't so damn thirsty. One thing I can't handle about Japan is their small drink size. I woke up this morning with a huge headache and apple juice colored pee because I was so dehydrated. In Japan, it's also rude to drink and walk around, so there's really no opportunity to just drink water without getting ogled at.

Today, a few friends and I are going to Harajuku. I don't care who stares at me, I'm going to drink some freakin' water.

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