So far, I have mainly been walking around slightly confused, taking the wrong metro exit paths, and been getting lost… But today was my first day in the laboratory at Waseda University, the first day I asked for directions in Japanese, the first day I ate out on a Japanese restaurant, and today was also the day where I tried Onigiri for the first time… And I am completely exhausted!
The past few days I feel like I have acted like a foreigner with absolutely no clue about anything, not even the language – and I am not entirely clueless! I know I could actually deal with most normal situations if I just started out trying in Japanese. But every time I ask someone about something, I go like “Do you speak English”, and they tend to look frightened and start searching for someone who knows a bit of English. I could at least ask in Japanese if they understand English. I even know what to say if they answer no, for example:
|A:||英語でいいですか？(Eigo de ii desu ka?)||Is English OK?|
|B:||いいえ、英語はちょっと。。 (Iie, eigo wa chotto…)||No, English is a bit…|
|A:||じゃ、日本語で試してみましょうか。しかし、私の日本語は完璧じゃないので、ゆっくり話してくださいね。(Jya, Nihongo de tameshite mimashou ka. Shikashi, watashi no Nihongo wa kanpeki jya nai no de, yukkuri hanashite kudasai ne.)||Well, then let’s try in Japanese. However, my Japanese is not perfect, so please speak slowly.|
However! This morning, I had to find my way on foot (without GPS or internet) to the Nishi-Waseda campus, which is around 20 minutes’ walk from my place. I had examined it on google maps and even checked street views so that I could recognize the places, however I still ended up doubting myself half way. I had left a little later than I probably should have, so I was panicking a bit. This is what made me force myself into asking for directions in Japanese from a random guy on the street, and it went surprisingly well (I made the decent assumption that he didn’t know any English). He didn’t really know the place I was looking for, but we could understand each other. Luckily, a young guy passing us stopped and told me that I was walking in the right direction (of course in Japanese). Success – I used my Japanese (and walked in the right direction)!
After I arrived in the lab, the Associate professor showed me around the campus, and that included walking outside in 35 degrees C and 90% humidity for quite some time. The past few days I think I have managed the heat pretty well, but today’s walks were really something else… ^^ He took me and some of the students along for lunch at some Japanese restaurant where we sat on the floor and everything (actually my leg started cramping). I think I managed pretty well with chopsticks, and the tempura I got was really good! The students couldn’t really speak English, and the few who knew a little bit were quite shy about trying. Well, I can’t really blame them, I feel the same way in Japanese. If I speak English, I am not a particularly quiet person, however if I am to speak Japanese I am pretty good at not speaking! 😀
The place where I will sit in the lab, is in an office with the associate professor – and no one else. The room is quite large, so I have plenty of space. I think it would have been nice, however, to share office with some more guys, since it will be difficult for me to interact with any of the other students when sitting in a different room. Well, the other rooms did seem really crowded already. Let’s see how it plays out – and the associate professor is a really nice guy. In addition, a student will join me tomorrow afternoon to the Shinjuku City Office, where I need to have my address stamped on the back of my residence card, and then he will help me getting a sim-card afterwards. On Shinjuku City Office’s website they suggest that you bring a Japanese speaking person, as they don’t necessarily have anyone who speaks English (even though it’s central Tokyo!). I tried to get a sim-card by my-self yesterday, spent almost all day, and in the end I didn’t get it. The guys at the shop barely spoke English, and I didn’t know that I had to go to the city office and get an official stamp proving where I live in order to get a sim-card. Therefore it’s really nice that a guy from the lab joins me tomorrow, as I really need a phone with internet and GPS.
That’s it from me for now, I will end today’s post with a few pictures from Shinjuku (I didn’t really get to take that many yet, and there are other smaller streets that looks sooo nice! I need to go there with my new camera!!).