Don’t Stop Me Now
“Don’t stop me now, I’m having such a good time, I’m having a ball. Don’t stop me now, if you want to have a good time, just give me a call.” –Queen, “Don’t Stop Me Now”
After two months in Japan, I can safely say that there will be some things I will never do the same way when I return to the United States. Here are a few.
- Driving is overrated. As I’ve ridden in a car once in the two months that I’ve been here, I’m not sure I could bring myself to drive everywhere as I used to. Four miles to the store? That’s nothing on a bike. Why not turn a dull shopping trip into an eventful outing?
- I am fairly sure that I will feel guilty if I ever eat a meal without fruit or vegetables again. …Same goes for rice.
- I’ll only prepare for myself what I can eat in one sitting, and will likely only buy food I will use within a week at the supermarket.
- I will never understand why most people in the US leave the water running while they are taking showers. Such a waste!
- On a similar note, I have no idea what possessed me to take showers in the morning. Why wake up at an ungodly hour only to be rudely awakened by a shower when you can go to bed clean, warm, and relaxed, and cut down your morning routine by at least half?
There are so many more things that I know will change when I return to the US in 9 months, and there will surely be more things I notice as I continue my study abroad here. Some will be temporary of course (sitting on the floor rather than the couch and bowing to everyone come to mind), but I think I’m starting to realize the depth of the impact that this journey will have and has already begun to have on me. It is certainly humbling if nothing else.
Last week was my university’s cultural festival, meaning that, for those not involved, it was a five-day weekend! So I’m in Japan with nothing to do, and what is my first thought? Why, go to Universal Studios Japan, of course! And so I did, with two of my friends who are in my Japanese language classes. The park is in Osaka and is only about an hour’s train ride away, and a Friday off school was as good a time to go as any. I have never been to a Universal Studios in the United States, so it was a brand new experience for me. Well, I shouldn’t say brand new, considering there was a miniature replica of the San Francisco wharf area and the Embarcadero (oh, the irony). But Jaws (Disney’s Jungle Cruise on steroids) and Jurassic Park were both awesome, as were the roller coasters Hollywood Dream and Space Fantasy (a Japanized Space Mountain). I have to say that the Terminator 2 3D play stole the show as far as the theater-based rides went, and the atmosphere of the entire park was quite nice (partially because it wasn’t swarming with crowds as it usually is). I have to admit it was strange hearing Doc from Back to the Future speaking in Japanese, and what an entirely Japanese crew was doing in Amity Beach I have no idea, but I’m not complaining. I mean, why do Mulan and Hercules and Aladdin speak English? Yeah, I could go on forever. Might I mention that Universal Studios should definitely be re-dubbed “Spielbergland, featuring John Williams.” I swear the park is just his way of spitting in the eye of old Walt. But misgivings aside, overall it was a phenomenal experience and well worth the time and money spent to get there.
Meanwhile, temperatures continue to drop, and as I have mentioned before, the vast majority of Japanese homes (including my own) have no central heating or air conditioning, nor do they have insulation. So as you can imagine, things are getting a bit uncomfortable, especially since I have no winter coat or sweatpants…. As I sit typing this at the dining room table, I am wearing two pairs of socks, and my feet are still like ice. And the hot showers would be nice if they weren’t so painful. However, my host mom recently put the kotatsu on my desk, which is more or less an electric blanket that drapes over the table and warms your legs while you sit. Yeah, definitely going to miss those.
The language barrier is still difficult to work around, but I am much better at listening and understanding people than I was two months ago. I still talk like a kindergardener, but I’m slowly starting to communicate more frequently in Japanese with those around me. I’m in the thick of midterms at the moment, but things should calm down by next week. Although, my weekends are already booked until Christmas with school field trips, plans with friends, and events with my host family. Also, my dad has informed me that he will be flying out to visit me in January for about a week in Tokyo, which I am super excited about! Gaijin in Tokyo Disneyland; can’t get much better than that!