Lansdale, PA | Summer, 2005 | 20 years old

Whoever first noticed that ignorance was bliss really hit it on the head. It’s more than a little stressful to prepare for life in a foreign country, and it’s compounded by research. The thing about Japan in particular is that it is almost entirely like the United States in virtually no way at all.

A little research shows that a cell phone purchased in the US will have no chance of working in Japan. A little more reveals that my laptop’s power adapter with the grounding pin (the third prong on the bottom) won’t fit into Japanese outlets, though Osaka does at least run on 60Hz electricity like I’m used to. Paper money is differently-sized and won’t fit nicely into my wallet. Coins are plentiful, though thankfully smaller and lighter than American ones. CDs are brutally expensive, as are movie tickets, food, gasoline, and water.

In fact, about the only elements of my current lifestyle that will be able to survive the transition intact are:

  1. My beloved AA batteries, though they will be named LR6 in a calculated attempt to gradually undermine the sanity of foreigners.
  2. My toothbrush.

It’s ridiculous, really, and utterly frustrating. Even completely mundane things in my life are starting to fall into this trap. Just the other day, for example, I went shopping for a new pair of shoes.

Now, shopping for shoes isn’t the greatest of experiences for me in the best of cases. I wear something like a US size 12-wide, which isn’t exactly a breeze to track down. When I do find a pair that actually fits, they tend of course to look like something that was either designed by a blind artist who hated the world, or stolen from a bowling alley. In order to make things more difficult for me, I now had to shop for shoes that, in addition to fitting in the first place and not making me look like some sort of discount clown, were also compatible with the Japanese way of life. They had to be good walking shoes, since I won’t be driving much for the next year, but they also have to be able to slide off easily when I need to, by conservative estimate approximately forty thousand times per day.

Luckily, I found a pair of Rockports for a decent price that were wide enough and about a size too long (I’ve already accidentally stepped out of one of them while running), which means that I will likely have to spend much of the next year or so developing the so-called Asian Shuffle simply in order to keep my shoes on.

I’m sure it’ll hit me sooner or later that I only have a week and a half left in the United States until May.

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