Tales From A Broad

My year of teaching English in Japan is up. Next mission: backpack Asia before going home to the U.S.A. Currently HOME!

Japan taught me...

...how lucky I am to be a native English speaker. It may not be the most widely spoken language in the world, but it sure as hell is the most international. If you were in a room full of Germans, Mexicans and Chinese, I'd bet they'd try to converse in whatever English they know, not in their native tongue.

...how undeniably hard it is to learn English. I know too many Japanese that would give anything to be fluent, so they study every day for 10-20 years and still can't hold a decent convo. They work so hard, but can't seem to grasp it. I have an even deepened respect and admiration for every single immigrant in the USA, including my parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. To move to another country, learn the language, and be successful...damn. I've got to hand it to you.
    In the U.S., I may chew your head off if:

  • you get angry when someone can't speak English

  • you tell an immigrant to, "Learn English or go back to the country you came from!" (I've actually heard too many people say this back home, including some of my friends). What the hell do you think they're trying to do? You can't learn a new language, get a job, learn all the new social norms, support yourself and even a family, and everything else overnight. It takes YEARS. Be patient. Get over it.

  • you think the government is "wasting" tax dollars to make important official documents in several languages.
Think about it, I'm an educated, childless, unmarried college graduate, from a developed country, already bilingual in English and Spanish, and for me, learning a whole new language was SO time-consuming and difficult. Honestly, I didn't get that far in one year. If you're a poor, uneducated immigrant from (insert any 3rd world country here), only fluent in your native language, and you come to America, imagine how much harder the obstacles must be for them. Double that if they have children and a spouse to support. Oh, and don't kid yourself: the USA would become extinct if there weren't illegal and legal immigrants. Who'll build roads and bridges? Who'll work on the farms? Who'll fix your car? Not your average ivy-league alumni.

...to have faith in not having any answers. The fact that I did the JET program for no particular reason other than to travel, forced me to believe that there was something more for me here. I found that there actually is. A lot of my friends here are a major inspiration for me. The fact that I'm OK with leaving Japan with no real plans--just faith, proves that.

...how to be a good sport. There were too many times when I was asked to do something that I didn't want to do. Wear a florescent butterfly costume to school? Sure. Go skiing at 5AM with a killer cold, and the vice principal? OK. Ride my bike in snow or a typhoon? Yes. Give an impromptu speech in Japanese and English to the entire staff at school? Fine.

..how to be responsible, really. Probably to the point of, "being a grandma," as Steph said, but it's a new characteristic for me. So, I'm still trying to learn how to balance it. Living alone, paying off all my debts and actually making progress, making a whole new social group, etc, on my own. Seemingly impossible and rewarding at the same time.

...to be patient. Things will start to make sense and the world doesn’t owe me anything.

...what I don't want my life to be. I don't want to work 12 hour days all year with no vacations. I don't want to inhale my lunch and dinner in 15 minutes. I don't want to have so many social rules over me. I don’t want to have such distant relationships and friendships, where the only way to communicate is by texting on a cell phone. I don’t want to see my husband (?), boyfriend only on the weekends because we're just too busy to catch up during the week. I don't want to send my children (?) through a school system that teaches students to conform, follow the rules, and above all, not to think for themselves. I don’t want to feel undesirable just because I have an opinion, am loud sometimes, and independent. I don't want to be "cute." I don't want to talk in a high-pitched, nasally voice and giggle over everything a guy says. I don’t want to care what the neighbors think. I don't want to be obsessive over the time and being "on time." I don't want to live in a homogenous society. I don’t want to separate my trash into 6 different bins.

...to slow down a bit. I eat slower. I walk slower. Now if I could just talk slower. :)

...that I love the USA, but that's it's also overrated. Also, where Japan lies on one extreme of the spectrum--too much of the group mentality, people are sooo considerate of others that they neglect themselves too much, non-individualistic, bizarre, small everything, work too much--the U.S. lies on the opposite extreme--too much of the independent mentality, people are too self-centered/focused on themselves that they neglect their groups too much, bizarre, big everything, work too much.

...that I have a clearer understanding of what life really means.
"I felt that coming to Japan would just be a break from real life. Now I have found myself more aware of what my real life is and a lot of what I was doing back home now appears unimportant." ~anonymous, The Jet Journal
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At 23:02, Blogger laura said...

Well put.

p.s. love the new template!    

At 23:24, Blogger Kat said...

yeah interesting post cee pee! the template is wicked although can you make the writing a bit bigger? my old eyes cant take it!xx    

At 22:02, Blogger Cee Pee said...

thanks gals. kat im trying to make the font bigger put the template always looks different on Macs then on PCs. :(    

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