Friday, July 13, 2007

I'm living on the other side of the world?

I've been out here for a little bit now - hard to believe it's coming up on a year. Now I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but I was driving down the street to the store today, and I just realized that this country feels entirely normal to me at this point. I'm not sure what you think of Japan, but to me I've internalized it to the point that it's totally lost that sense of exoticism... except for those giant flying robots and mutant hybrid monkey-birds. Seriously though, to me Japan might as well be New Jersey. Ok, well maybe New Jersey's sort of harsh - how about Pennsylvania?

Anyway, the point is that it's just another place, and although I certainly stand out I don't feel out of place. I remember when I was down in Chiba as an exchange student there were certain linguistic milestones I passed - my first full day not speaking one word of English and getting by, giving a speech in Japanese, watching tv and actually understanding what was going on... one moment that vividly stands out in my memory was this one day where I casually spit out a good chunk of lingo without the least bit of effort. At that moment I took a step outside myself and wondered where the hell that came from - it sounded like me, but what the hell? When did my Japanese get that good?

I guess today was sort of like that. It wasn't anything really out of the ordinary that sparked it this time, in fact it was probably more just the mundanity of the entire scene. Setting out on a day off to take care of some errands on a road that I travel everyday going to places I've been
a hundred times or more. I remember that when I first got here last year that I was more concerned with getting myself set up with all the daily necessities here than I was with gawking around at my new environs. There have been linguistic milestones this time around as well, like repeatedly being confused for a Japanese guy on the phone, or reading a 300+pg. Japanese novel, or understand what people at work are going on about in the local dialect, but I think to me the internalization and cultural adjustments stand out more in my mind. As with everything else in life though, the more you learn, the more you find out you don't know. Personal growth rules.

I still wouldn't go as far to call it home, but it is where I lay my head at night.

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