The first few days of work have been interesting. About 5 people in my office speak English (including me) so it’s been fun trying to learn as much Japanese as possible. Google translate has become my new best friend. I had to draw a picture of a paper clip to ask where they’re located today. Outside of talking to people, everything on my computer is in Japanese. From the email client to Microsoft Excel. The icons are the same, but all the menus and dialog boxes are in Japanese. As I said before I left, it’s going to be an interesting few months.
The food at the plant isn’t my favorite. Today was a fish paste fried cake (second picture below). I tried the rest but didn’t get very far. I felt bad throwing most of it out, and I avoided the eyes of my coworkers as I made my way to the tray return. I’ll probably start bringing more and more food from home and eat at my desk. On a side note, these meals cost about $5 each.
Regarding the language learning, I’ve started keeping a notebook of Japanese words and their meaning to help me study. I am scheduled to have a private tutor once a week on Wednesdays at 5:00 pm starting soon which should definitely speed up the learning curve.
There are some things with the language/culture that are pretty interesting. Like when you leave the office, you announce to those still working: “Osaki ni shiturei shimas” (o-saki ni shit-su-day shi-mas), which roughly means “I am sorry to leave the office while you are still working”. Then the people still working respond: Otsukare sama deshita, or “You must be tired after all the hard work today.” People say it as casually as they say good morning, but it’s not second nature for me yet.
Through this whole week I’ve had dinners scheduled with my coworkers at different restaurants. On Monday we went to an Indian restaurant where I ordered chicken curry and garlic naan (reminds me of Saffron in Greenville) and yesterday we went to a Chinese restaurant. I ordered gyoza (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiaozi) and a large bowl of ramen.
I am getting used to things here. I’m planning on trying to get a gym membership this week. Crossing my fingers the person working speaks some English.