Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sometimes I wanna go home

Last week's school trip was A for Awesome-frikking-sauce! Despite the hilarious episode of walking 200 m to from the restaurant to the theater through a TYPHOON, and the school nurse almost blowing in the bay, and me and a hotel staff member having to save her, and her freaking out and not wanting to go outside ever again, and her holding me arm in a death grip while we finally made our way to the theater. lol. Good times!

Lion King musical was fab! And it occurred to me mid-musical that I've never been to a musical in English, unless I was working in it. For some strange reason, I've only seen musicals in Japanese. I need to go to Broadway. (And to think I lived in Connecticut for 2 years - how did I NOT go to Broadway?)

And the next day we went to Tokyo Disney. The highlight for me was Mickey's Philharmagic. But I love fairy tales, so just breathing Disney air turns my brain to mush. Then I realised there are only 4 Disney Lands in the world, and I've been to the 2 in Asia, the 2 Westerners hardly get to see... In my strange twisted brain, that means I HAVE to go to the other 2.

But I digress.

While the school trip was fun, there were several times I made mistakes that made me feel very aware of the fact that I wasn't Japanese.

First off, the pre-departure meeting at school started at 7.40 am. Actual departure was at 7.50. I figured I'd aim for being 10 minutes early not to stress myself. At 7.26, I got a call from one of the other teachers.

T: Where are you?
C: On my way, by the station.

I thought nothing of it, and just continued on my merry way to school. When I got to school at 7.32, the Vice Principal RIPPED ME A NEW ONE.

VP: You are late! You need to be here at least 10 minutes before so as not to cause people stress. Today is a special day. You can't be late today.....

Then on the first morning in the hotel in Tokyo, I was determined not to be late, so at 7 am, I was at the restaurant door for breakfast. None of the other teachers were there, so I gave the restaurant dude my breakfast ticket, and headed over to the buffet.

I was halfway through my breakfast when the principal walked in. The Maitre D' pointed him to a table with a reserved sign on it. Soon after two more teachers joined him, and they all just sat there waiting for the others. I felt like a complete cow.

Noone had said anything about all of us eating together or waiting for the rest to turn up. But that was the Japanese thing to do. In fact, in both cases I'd screwed myself over by thinking like a Westerner and not like a Japanese.

You see Westerners think for themselves. When I thought about what time to go to school, I thought about what time would get me there without ME worrying. When the Vice Principal ate me alive, he was talking about what time would get me there without THE GROUP worrying.

And it's not just that. My Vice Principal is a lot more vocal than Average Japanese Dude. He (and my old lady neighbour) will tell you if you're wrong, but most people won't. I have no idea what's expected here half the time. For all I know, I'm committing major faux pas, all day every day, and noone is telling me.

Sometimes it feels like it would just be so nice to go home.

Home where I know what is right and wrong. Home where I know what is good and bad. What is acceptable. What is late. What is expected. Home where I can read the newspaper. Where I can understand everything on tv. Where I can read signs. Where the bookstore has mostly books in a language I can read without a dictionary. Where I can participate in poetry slams.

I love it here but sometimes I wanna go home.

It's Monday (in the West, at least), and that's what's on my mind.


Jon Paul said...

Sorry about your homesickness. It's been going around here in Sicily too--although I can tell you with a straight face that the things that bugs Italians have nothing at all to do with punctuality. :D

Crazy drivers, when paying: put the money on the counter, not hand it over directly, not eating dinner until like ten o'clock at night (if you show up to a restaurant at a "normal" hour, like seven, they look at you weird), a slew of others. :)

I can totally relate. Sometimes you just miss the stuff we know, so we don't have to think too much.

Me loves me a poetry slam, now and again, too! :D

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Yikes. If I read that correctly you were eight minutes early instead of ten and got yelled at for two minutes. That's absurd.
I hope you get to Broadway, too, some day!