This Drama Is Fiction: My year on the other side.
What happened in six weeks in Seoul, one year in Kyoto and three months in Spain.
Now I'm a hapless intern in a company in Japan.
Check out my gel nail art tumblr!
Ah, I spent so long last night trying to fix the mistake in my ticket but it’s one of those errors that you can’t change. And they won’t let you use the ticket if there’s a mistake in your name.
Thank god for once in my life I chose the pay at the convenience store option so I could cancel the flight for free.
I then had to wait until this morning to find the same flight up for sale and book it all over again. This time there was an administrative fee of 4000 yen which is taking the piss a bit, but after that ordeal I just had to pay it.
But now for the fun bit… I’m off to Seoul~
That moment when you rush to book plane tickets because “there’s only one ticket left!” and you forget to put in your middle name….
I felt like I was so used to Japanese ways before I entered this company for the first time. Now I feel like a baby al over again because company life is a whole other hurdle to face with so many new customs and ways of speaking to learn.
What still makes me chuckle is that the first thing I encountered when I turned up for work in the office on my first day was, without any explanation, the office group exercise.
At 8.20 every morning a bell chimes and music starts playing from the speakers. Everyone goes out of the office into the lobby and starts doing choreographed stretches and exercises along to the music!!
At first I was bewildered and way out of my depth - who knew that company workers do this in real life?! Now I’m totally used to it, but I have to do the exercises really half heartedly because jumping up and down and bending over to touch my toes requires a sports bra at the minimum, unless I want to risk flashing my middle aged coworkers unexpectedly. Oh my gosh, can you imagine? The hapless foreign intern making another cultural faux pas.
My coworkers said they’d teach me something about Japan and I asked them to teach me Japanese business manners.
So, today they taught me how to serve tea. Because women serve the tea.
This week former congressman Todd Akin reaffirmed his beliefs that victims of “legitimate rape” can’t get pregnant & that the female body “has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” A lot of people don’t believe him, but that’s why I’m here! To explain why he’s DEAD RIGHT, using SCIENCE!!
A co-worker closed the door to the staff room behind him.
It locked automatically
and I started planning what I could use as a weapon:
smash the glass beside the fridge into his eye.
pick up the fork next to me and sink it into his leg.
claw him across the face if I couldn’t get to anything in time.
As I calculated how hard it would be to shove his body weight off of me,
he finished making his lunch, said, “Sup,” and left,
the door automatically locking behind him.
I expect if I told him I was prepared to stab him with the corner of my staff ID if I had to,
he would say what I’ve heard too often, the one we all know
but are getting wearily suspicious of:
Not all men are like That.
When I was eleven, all the girls in my class got sent to self-defence
because they assumed we’d need it one day.
When I was twelve, there was a prostitute’s body dumped in the river next to my house
because someone thought she was disposable.
When I was thirteen, it happened again and this time the man went to jail
and people stood outside the courtroom and held up signs that he did the right thing.
When I was fourteen, my friend showed up to a sleepover late, chest heaving from sobbing
and from running four blocks after getting chased by a man that followed her off the bus.
When I was fifteen, my mother accused me of being a Man Hater
and I said, “No, but god, would you blame me if I was?”
I got catcalled and then got laughed at when I flipped them off.
they pulled up beside me and I clutched my bag tighter,
my hand going in for my keys and my mind going over how their noses would look
if I smashed them in with my elbow.
“What’s the big deal,” the guy at the steering wheel asked. “We’re just complimenting you. We’re not like That.”
Sorry, but I’m not going to trust you in case I end up on a poster labelled ‘MISSING.’
Even if you seem like the nicest guy, I’ll still have one hand holding my keys
as the only knife I’m allowed, because I don’t know how far you’re going to take it:
if you won’t back off when I tell you I don’t want to date you
if you’ll shout BITCH at me when I don’t respond well to your catcall
if you’ll expect my body as a reward for treating me like a human being
if you’ll try to take what you think you’re owed by being a man
if you’ll turn me into another statistic that people shudder away from.
I have been trained to assume that it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing
or face the consequences.
I don’t know if you’ll nod when I reject you
or pump me full of bullets.
Every single woman I’ve talked to has a story where they haven’t felt safe in their own body
because of what a man said or did.
Not all men are like That, but god, it’s enough.
It’s just this kaisha lifestyle is so tough right now and I don’t have a second for tumblr
After what felt like the longest journey ever, with the usual crap and typhoon delays, I finally arrived in Japan! I was really surprised because I got asked so many questions at the airport before they would grant me my tourist visa. The purpose of my stay was never questioned when I went to Osaka or Kyoto, but I guess there really is nothing much to see in Nagoya.
It did get really annoying because, even after I had shown all the proof of my internship and got my tourist visa granted, the girl at customs (with the biggest bitch face) looked through my passport, saw all the stamps for Kansai Airport and was like “Why did you come to Nagoya? Why not Kansai?”. Why are they so suspicious of foreign tourists in Nagoya?! I had to explain again that I was there for an internship and resisted the urge to tell her that, don’t worry, I would never have visited Aichi through choice.
When I finally arrived at the company dorm, I was whisked through hours of orientation, bowing and よろしくお願いしますing everyone, without a second to take things in. It got really overwhelming for me and I felt the same waves of anxiety and nausea which I had the time I arrived in Japan on my year abroad. At one point, I was eating a late lunch with my supervisor but I could barely eat anything and felt really light headed so had to leave it (and I would never leave food!). The sudden heat and humidity really didn’t help and I felt really unwell and nauseous all day.
The saving grace was, at the end of the day when I went to get food from the dormitory cafeteria, I bumped into all the other foreign interns. It was so good to chat with them while I was eating, so I wouldn’t start thinking about everything, get anxious again and lose my appetite. None of the other interns speak Japanese but they’ve already been here two weeks or more and are getting on fine. I felt so relieved to hear from them because I suffer from such anxiety when in new situations (fun story - I ended up in hospital a week of arriving in Japan last time, from insomnia and throwing up everything I ate) and it really helps to be around other people to have a distraction and to know you’re not the only one.
Anyway, I’m going with some of the interns into Nagoya today. It’s a bitch of a journey because the dormitory and the factories are all complete country side but I have to get to Nagoya to visit anywhere else in Japan so the sooner I learn the journey the better