I’ve started this blog way to damn early. I don’t leave for another two months, and I ain’t got shit to write about. Nothing Japanese related, anyhow. Sooo I got to thinking about why I’m in this situation, about to live in another country for a year. What made me decide to go down this path? Why Japan? Why not somewhere in Europe, or Southeast Asian or something? What do I expect to gain from this experience? Various other questions ran through my head too, but they tripped along the way and I lost track of ’em.
So why live in Japan for a year? I think this question can be relayed back to the fact that I was an intense nerd in high school. I’m still a nerd now, but in a slightly less socially inept way. Not unlike most of the people you will find in any university’s freshman level Japanese language class, I had adopted a weird, sort of fetishist vision of Japan. No doubt brought upon by watching way too many animes and Takashi Miike movies. I looked at Japan with a sense of escapism that wasn’t centered in the real world. It was flashy, filled with bright colors and stories of soft spoken male protagonists who inexplicably had like seven girls all up in their shit.
Eventually I realized I was stereotyping an entire country based on the cartoons it had produced. I took a step back, looked at myself and people like me, and kinda just gave it up. I still continued to take classes on Japanese language and culture, but the idea of Japan as a personal nerd mecca had gone away. Looking ahead at this trip I’m going to be taking, it was undoubtedly for the best. I want to look firsthand at the Japanese culture and see what it has to offer, but I’m going to exist very much as an American, with my home somewhere else. I don’t want to be a tourist, but there’s no way I’m going to try and be a native either. The clash between the two cultures is undoubtedly going to be more interesting than either of the cultures standing alone anyway. No point in trying to dilute it by pretending to understand what’s going on around me.
As for the ‘why not a different country’ question – the Japanese university I’m attending offers a damn near intravenous injection of all the courses I need to complete one of my majors. Were this not the case, I think I would’ve tried to go to India. Both India and Japan are endless sources of fascination for me, but I’m a lot less acquainted with India, so I’m more drawn to it. Hopefully that trip will happen in the future.
So what do I hope to gain from this experience? I haven’t a damn clue. Flying blind is much more fun than using a map. I do, however, want to use it as a stepping stone for spending more time abroad. The main goal I’ve got for myself after I leave college is to join the Peace Corps as an English teacher, so I’m going to try to help out Japanese students as an English tutor/language partner while abroad. Not sure if my university offers something like that officially through the school, but I’ll manage somehow.
That’s really all I’ve got for now. I’m going to try and get a few more posts in before I take my leave of America, but I can’t guarantee they’ll be anything worth reading.