Money Problems, Cultural Observations, and a Dinner Party

I’ve started doing a bit of work around the office, and it is truly empowering.  They asked me to go over a translation of a children’s play that someone translated from Japanese to English.  It was cool because I had complete control over the play, if I thought words and phrases were better than others, it was changed right away. If I didn’t think that the meaning was being conveyed well, then I could just change things as I saw fit.  No problem. Obviously I am an English master compared to all of them, but to be respected for what I have to say is really a good feeling.

So the lady who translated the play invited me to her friends house the next night, and we had deserts.  Her friend was some master baker and teaches 100 people a week so that they too can become a master baker.  We called her Pan Sensei, literally Bread Sensei.  It was really cool, and we just got to talk a while, about two hours, in Japanese…ish.   I don’t feel very good at putting everything together, but I can do a decent job of understanding what people are saying, so even though my Japanese wasn’t amazing, I was still able to converse with these people for a while.  I’m pleased.  As soon as I start drinking more with the Japanese folks, I’ll be well on my road to success, at least that was all the professional advice I received from orientation.  And that little bit of liquid confidence is enough to get you talking without restraint, a very good thing.  Anyway, we spent the time eating her amazing food as well.  It came in waves and was just amazing.


Right up until this point, I have been functioning entirely on my own sources of cash.  But my nest egg was about gone.  I was down to less than 10 dollars with about 5 days to go, including a 7 dollar bus ride into to city for orientation.  I was eating rice and nothing, counting what change I had.  Though my parents were an option for a quick loan, I wanted to make it on my own.  I’m living solo, doing my own thing, and I want to think I can handle these issues just like I will whenever I move back home.


Drinking in Japan is something totally different that in American (and especially Zeeland).  Professionals of all professions will go and partake with their coworkers on a regular basis.  I can’t imagine how ‘bad’ it would be if the Zeeland teachers decided to do something like this.  Parents would be so stupid about it, and assume them unfit for their jobs.  But here, it happens on a regular basis.  Any principal who drinks a bottle of wine a night, openly, would come under at least some scrutiny (at least in the deep deep red cities…)

There is the stupid stigma here that Americans have built up.  I’ve seen college age kids get crazy here before, but somehow they seem to approach it much different.  I feel like far fewer poor decisions that are made by their drunk population.  Also, there are no laws against open containers or drinking on the streets, trains, or anywhere else.  Even school functions will often have something made available.  Their drinking age of 20 is really just there to appease the Western world, because it isn’t enforced, though it isn’t abused like it would be in America.  The only time they come down harder is on drunk driving.  The legal limit here is 0.00%, nothing, and the punishments are dire.



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