Thursday, September 16, 2004

Why I lack Culture Shock.

There is a lull at work right now (the first appearance of that fabled 'free-time'), and since my list of blog topics is at home, I'll have to come up with something new. So, I decided to investigate the reason why I have yet to feel any Culture Shock. In fact, it often feels like I'm still in America.

I've figured it out: it is because I'm hard of hearing. That's right, being hard of hearing is the cure for Culture Shock.

"But wait," you may protest, "aren't you forgetting all of the obvious differences around you, that scream out that you're not in Kansas anymore?"

To that I say, what differences? The main difference would have to be the language, right? Well, body language is pretty similar over here, and since I haven't been able to hear very well for years, I'm accustomed to not understanding the words people say. But I can pretty much tell what someone means from their body language.

To anyone who thinks that the large number of, say, Asian people, vs the small number of, for example, anyone else would be the biggest difference. Such a person is drastically over-estimating my ability to actual distinguish differences between ethnicities (my African American History teacher would be upset to hear that. "I'm proud to be black," he would say. "I'm sorry, I'm color-blind." "That's an insult!" "No, it's a lack of cones in my eyes."). Actually, one of the many high schools I attended was in San Jose California, and I swear that the dominant nationality at that high school was Japanese. And, I basically came to Japan directly after graduating from EWU, which has a large Asian (especially Japanese) population, due to the AUAP partnership. So, it's pretty much like America, with less Americans. And that doesn't seem like a bad thing to me right now. :)

As for the food, well, it's not as big of an adjustment as I thought. Squid, for example, is basically the same taste and texture as McDonald's "chicken" McNuggets. Seriously. So, except for the fact that many foods come with seaweed, or green tea, or both, it's quite similar.

Speaking of food, to go off on a tangent for a moment, the odd things are missing here. There's no Ranch dressing. In America, where we have literally HALF an aisle dedicated to all the different types of Ranch dressing, to come here, where there is NONE (all of the other dressings seem to be present and accounted for)...that's the closest I've come to culture shock. I saw a recipe for ranch dressing the other day. Hooray! I thought. Directions: Start with a package of Ranch dressing mix... :( Actually, there's a tasty dressing I use here made from mixing mayo with soy sauce (similar to 1000 island, mixing mayo with ketchup). It's not bad, and I always have mayo and soy sauce. Of course, the mayo is different here (closer to miracle whip). Where was I?

Ah, yes, killing time at work, so I can go home and take a nap, or play KoTOR. Or, actually, now that I've remembered it, go to the Board of Education because it's Friday, and I'm not done working. Sigh.

Anyway, lack of culture shock. You know what else I haven't experienced? What about that wonderful immersion into a foreign language giving me the ability to chat with the locals? Hasn't kicked in yet, perhaps for the same reason I lack culture shock (hard of hearing), but also because you don't need to be able to speak Japanese at all here. I rarely have trouble being understood at the supermarket or whatever. You can totally get by in Japan with just English and a smile. :)

Anyway, I'll have to try to remember to post something here when I've had more than 3 hours of sleep followed by a full work day, as at the moment I'm having difficulty thinking about anything besides coffee. Mmmmm....coffeeeeee.....


  1. You know, now that I think about it, you're right. Squid is a lot like McDonald's Chicken McNuggets. Hmm. Maybe that's why their meat is all-white...

  2. Well if you really want submersion....then go for the situations where you can't mime your way through it. Call up a place and have something delivered. When the package arrives then you can enjoy the moment where you realize that no one understood you and you have received what they thought you should have.

    I am sorry my guess is that you are still in the "Honeymoon" stage of culture shock. Give it a few more months. By then not having Ranch dressing could be the last straw.

    Or I could be completely wrong....Any one want to post their predictions on what will happen to Phoenix?