Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sometimes it's the little things

Living in a foreign country presents a variety of challenges, especially when you're not a native speaker of the whatever it is that they speak over there. Encountering these hurdles can be immensely stressful at times, and overcoming them can be equally rewarding. Although these episodes can sometimes set the tone of your stay, I find that it's the daily encounters, the little things, if you will, that really color your overall experience.

For me, I find normal, everyday communication to be one of the best parts of living in Japan. Even though it can be a headache at times, it has naturally gotten easier as my Japanese has improved. The limitations of my Japanese abilities, along with the random spatterings of English that every Japanese person seems to possess, lead to some interesting conversations.

Recently I received this big, blue, official-looking envelope in the mail, the words 「ねんきん定期便」printed, along with a small explanation underneath. Normally I get rid of this kind of stuff, but this one looked like it might be important. It was something to do with the "Pension Service."
So this morning I took it into the office and asked the 事務員 (office workers, akin to secretaries here) if this thing was important and if I should do anything with it. One of the ladies had a look and then took a moment to consider how to explain this thing. "It's important," she said. "You don't need this," she added, indicating the self-addressed return envelope that was included in the larger blue envelope. She pointed to one of the papers. "This has a record of your earnings on it. Hmmm...I'm not sure if you understand." She smiled, a little nervously. "Keep," she said in English. I smiled back. "Ok, I think I got it," I replied with a thumbs up.

Keep. Ok, I will. I walked back to the teachers room with a smile. This may be one of those "you had to be there" stories, but then again maybe it's one of those "you had to be me" stories. It's the little things like this that make living here so interesting, and at times amusing.


  1. Hey Blue Shoes. Yes, brevity is the order of the day here quite often, especially in English. And Long-winded fellow like me has had to learn how to keep it short and least verbally (-;
    Nice post!

  2. Thanks, Loco! I hear you - why confuse people with two words when you can confuse them with one?