090905-224341

Well, I’ve been in a strong period of adjustment for the first few days I’ve been here. When I was in orientation to prepare for studying abroad, I was told there would be four stages of culture shock, initially beginning with euphoria – where everything would be incredibly interesting, etc. I’m beginning that stage now, I think, but for the first few days I had less euphoria and more confusion.

Being in a foreign country, everything around you is different – the language, signs, sides of the road, food, smells, everything. For me in my first few days I had to adjust. Everything seemed to mess with my mind and connect all the wrong circuits. I had to use my brain a lot.

Add into that initial experience the necessity to fill out forms and submit them by deadlines, and you have my first few days. Imagine going to a stop light and suddenly red means go and green means stop. That’s kind of like what I was going through.

Now I’m feeling a bit more oriented, and I’m entering into that “everything’s new and I love it” phase. Other people have said it before, and I’ll repeat it. It’s like every sense – sound, smell, taste, sight – are all heightened. Everything seems interesting, every little detail precious.

I found out with a sinking feeling that I’m out of batteries for my camera. My charger doesn’t work with the voltage here. I was going to take lots of cool photos, but I failed. I suppose I could use my built-in webcam to take pictures of my room, and, if I was willing to look silly, the dorm. (The dorm is really awesome, by the way. I really do want to put up pictures.)

Today (Saturday the 5th) I went with my roommate beyond my previous experience – before I basically knew the area around the walk to and from the university. We walked in order to find the supermarket for the first time. There are several in the surrounding area, but just finding one without getting hopelessly lost would be a challenge.

On the way I saw two bakeries and a fruit shop, but going into the supermarket was interesting. Of course, everything was different and unrecognizable. I mean, I’ve fortunately had a bit of previous experience with Japanese cuisine, so I was able to recognize nori (paper-like dried seaweed), tofu, noodles, beans, and such. I was hoping for but not surprised that there was little by the way of cheese, and the cheese they had was a bit expensive. The problem is that Japan is an island nation, with not a lot of space for grazing animals like cows. Thus milk and cheese are not readily available and are somewhat unpopular in Japan anyway. You don’t see cartons of milk or anything for drinking.

The Japanese are quite good at making pastries, and there were a lot of them. However, the majority of pastries I’ve seen are savory and salty ones, topped with corns and meats. The regular loaves of bread are quite odd.

090905-230044

Every single loaf was like this. Can you see that? It’s nearly twice as thick as Texas Toast! You can’t imagine sandwiches made with that bread. It’s about half a loaf – I got some because I thought it would make a good breakfast, just a slice.

Carts weren’t really available for use, just baskets and basket-size carts. Everything foodwise in America is huge in comparison to Japan! Drink and package sizes, portion sizes, etc. are so much smaller, except for bowls of noodles. (I had soba noodles today for lunch at the cafeteria. It was pretty good.) It’s a mental adjustment one has to make, but it’ll be good for my health. I think the reason why there aren’t huge sizes of peanut butter and stuff is that:

1.) The Japanese like fresh food.

2.) The Japanese shop more often than Americans.

3.) Japanese families tend to be smaller than American ones.

Boiled down to a nutshell. They didn’t have any larger loaves of bread than that. (Not that I wanted any. Japanese smaller sizes are better for me, so nothing goes to waste.)

I was originally going to post about the trip to Kyoto I went on yesterday, but it turned out I had less time than I thought I did for posting today. So tomorrow, when I have less to do, I’m going to post my fantastic pictures of Kyoto.

It’s nighttime over here, so – oyasumi nasai!

Advertisements