If they ever made the film Meet the Ogawas, it would certainly contain more laughs than its wretched Ben Stiller-starring namesake, but it still wouldn’t be the kind of film I’d go see. As it is, I don’t have to worry about that for one reason. I’m starring in it.
I’ve been living with my host family for five days now, and I still haven’t worked out how we’re meant to get along. My host mother and sister make their best efforts to talk to me, but even that can get frustrating, as okaasan (mother) insists on repeating stuff to me about four or five times, even when I understand perfectly. It’s annoying, but other people I’ve talked to have had the same problem. I guess it just takes time for them to get used to my level.
I still enjoy talking to them, though. It’s other times that I’m worried about. I live in a flat on the floor below the kitchen and living area, and so it’s a bit awkward when I go out. I don’t know whether I’m being a recluse or whether they want me to stay down there. The dilemna is usually solved when I realise I’m ridiculously tired and fall into bed. I haven’t been a credit to intercultural relations yet, but hey, there’s still the weekend.
[EDIT] I’ve come back to this entry after today’s classes, to let you know how the academic side of things is going. In addition to Spoken Japanese and Japanese Reading and Writing, I’ve taken two Asian Studies classes; Pacific Rivalry with Prof. Paul Scott, and Making the News in Japan with Dr. Mark Hollstein. Both have turned out to be very good choices, something I’m grateful for as other people haven’t been too happy with their courses.
Prof. Scott immediately cemented himself in my estimations as the best teacher ever when he announced in the first lesson that he wouldn’t be taking attendance and we would be allowed to choose the questions for our in-class examinations. The subject matter is interesting enough, but it was made more intriguing by the picture Scott painted of our future careers as regional experts:
You go into a room with a few very important, very busy people. They may be businessmen, wondering whether to invest 3 billion dollars in X. They may be military men, planning what to do if X becomes a threat. They’ll say to you, “Tell us everything about X.” And you will. You’ll have all that information right there, and you’ll be able to tell them everything off the top of your head.
While it must be good for the soul to give a load of important people the information they need to make their decisions, it probably won’t be the career I’ll end up chasing, or achieving. For me it would be more fulfilling, if not better-paid, to go into a room with people from Human Rights Watch or Amnesty, and have them ask me about X.