Don’t Panic

“Oh, all that I know, there’s nothing here to run from. And there, everybody here’s got somebody to lean on.” –Coldplay, ‘Don’t Panic’

It’s time for a round of “You Know You’re in Japan When…” with your host, Amy DuPont!

You know you’re in Japan when…

  • You feel like a creeper because you’re the only one who wears sunglasses.
  • You feel guilty every time you flush a toilet because of the amount of water you’re wasting.
  • You consider hot (or even warm) showers and bed sheets luxuries.
  • You kick yourself for having ever taken insulation and central heating and air for granted.
  • You have to consciously stop yourself from saying “bless you” when someone sneezes, as those around you will have no idea what you’re talking about.

You also know you’re in Japan when…

  • There are vending machines conveniently and strategically placed at every corner.
  • You can ask anyone on the street for directions and they will almost always be happy to show you the way.
  • Television commercials threaten to send you into fits of hysteria, as you are unsure whether to laugh or cry at their ridiculousness.
  • Everything is so organized–as if the planners painstakingly took every possible scenario into account–that you doubt the future of the rest of humanity.

I’ve survived a week in Japan! やった!

Yesterday felt like it was a week long. The exchange students in my program took a field trip to several sights around Hyogo prefecture, and by the time we were done, it had been about nine hours start to finish and everyone was exhausted. We started with a trip to the countryside, where we took a “nature walk” (turned into a nature hike) to the summit of a mountain and then had a fun barbeque lunch, although our table nearly caught on fire (yay for not knowing to to cook!). We also visited a nearby temple and the Tezuka Osamu museum. For those who don’t know, Tezuka Osamu is known as the father of anime in Japan, and Takarazuka was his hometown. You’d probably recognize titles of his work such as Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. Overall the entire day was very informative, but easily the most tiring of the past week.

ジャングル大帝 (Jungle Emperor), or Kimba the White Lion as it is known in the United States, is thought to have been the inspiration for Disney's Lion King.

I’m fairly busy this weekend, and though I’m not doing anything today, tomorrow I plan to go shopping with my friend Shoko, who came to my university as an exchange student a couple of years ago. On Monday I plan to go to an American football game played by Japanese football players (oh, the irony), as an acquaintance of mine is the team coach. I’m not certain if my host brother is coming or not…some stuff went down Thursday night when I asked if anyone wanted to go with me, and I feel that he’s been pressured into going by his mother and older brother. So we’ll see. Whatever the case, hopefully it won’t be too awkward.

On a different note, unfortunately I think I’m beginning to feel the first stages of culture shock. In my mind, I am cool and collected, but the rest of me seems to think otherwise. The fact that I am unable to communicate with locals exasperates me, but I know I will get better with time and practice. There’s not a specific problem with anything. I even have people to speak English with if need be. The logical part of me loves being here, absorbing new information and a new way of life. But–and I know my colleagues abroad are aware of this as well–it’s a tad bit frustrating when you find yourself breaking down for what you think (in the moment)to be no good reason at all. I took an entire class last semester on how to ease the symptoms and how to prepare for going abroad, but I think both the professor and her students could have saved a lot of time and money by simply saying that culture shock is like really bad PMS.

And I’ll leave it at that.

The view from the mountain's summit.

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About Amy DuPont

I am a lifelong nerd and enjoy listening to music, writing, running, and discussing international affairs. My joys in life include coffee, internet, rainy days, and the BBC.

Posted on September 17, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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