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I'm starting to get really fired up about the trip. ^^ Very happy.… - Silicon Rose [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Silicon Rose

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[Jul. 14th, 2005|09:28 am]
Silicon Rose
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[Current Mood |cheerfulcheerful]

I'm starting to get really fired up about the trip. ^^ Very happy. Running over my mind all of the tiny things I learned when I went about how to order and how to pay for things. Hoping to avoid another embarrassing mishap when I wasn't able to decode that the storeperson was asking me "Would you like a point card?" and she pulled out a sheet with it written in around six different languages.

The real problem about going to Japan is that things in daily life are different. It's trivial until you're a person with a questionable grip on the language and a limited vocabulary.

You go into a shop and the ten'in-san greet you with "Irasshaimase!" and you're like, okay, I've got this cold. You start perusing the titles, pull a few books off the shelf, then go up to the counter. When they quote you the bill, you look at the register to make sure you caught the total (or, if you're better than me, you just understand what s/he said), look around for a sign telling what credit cards they accept, and possibly ask "kurejitto (credit) de ii desu ka?" If you get back a "Hai" in return, you stick your credit card onto the plastic platter, sure you've got this nailed. Then they come back and ask you something "... one ... fine?" And you stare at them blankly. Then the person who came along with you says, "They're asking how many months you want the credit card to be charged over." And as your pretentions about your skill at Japanese disappear, you feel your face going bright red...

Someone had actually told me about the months thing, so I more or less was okay with it. It was "shokuzen" in restaurants that caught me for a loop. They don't ask whether you want your beverage before the meal in the US. And the problem is, people fluent in a language from birth don't learn interlocution techniques in it. I don't think in definitions in English, for example. If someone asks me what "sanguine" means, I get a picture in my mind of a cheerful person, and can't entirely figure out how to put it in general words. (Along with blood colored, etc.) People feel odd trying to define something to you in different terms.

Ah well. Hopefully things will go well. I should probably call up my credit card company and inform them I am going to be spending a frightening amount of money in Japan, so please don't lock my account.

And I need to call up my bank to figure out how much I can draw out of the ATM. And get some travellers checks.

...and go on the other trip this weekend. And... you know... work. And pack. Ah... taihen taihen...

[User Picture]From: ketsugami
2005-07-14 05:37 pm (UTC)
You should check your credit card agreement carefully. I know that it has recently become a very bad idea to use credit cards in other countries -- mine, for example, charges a 3% "conversion fee" on top of all purchases, which is way more then you'd pay at a real money-changer. I plan to get some travellers checks from the bank and then turn them into cash yen as needed.

Ironically, my credit card balked at the hotel booking. I just got off the phone with them...
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[User Picture]From: siliconrose
2005-07-15 06:13 am (UTC)
I think you're going to get screwed on the exchange no matter what you do. ^^;;
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[User Picture]From: harinezumi
2005-07-14 05:50 pm (UTC)
My approach when abroad has generally been to start out by making peace with the fact that I'm going to look, act, and sound like an obvious foreigner no matter what I do, and that the best I can hope for is to avoid being obnoxiously foreign. Having accepted that, it becomes much easier getting myself to bludgeon the language into something that conveys my basic meaning and to ask questions when I genuinely don't understand what's been asked of me. At times a bit of pantomiming and desperate synonym-seeking becomes necessary, but most of the time communication manages to occur anyway. In my experience, the only way to really become fluent in a language is to bludgeon it continuously over an extended period of time until it starts getting progressively more malleable in your mind.
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[User Picture]From: dr4b
2005-07-14 08:54 pm (UTC)
there's a super-easy solution to it all.

Day 1: go to Akihabara. acquire denshi-jisho if you don't have it.

Day 2-n: when translation problems arise, say "chotto," find Wordtank, hand to clerk.
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[User Picture]From: siliconrose
2005-07-15 06:16 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm not afraid of speaking, I'm afraid of not understanding. ^^ I can usually made myself understood - as long as I'm not in a Kinokuniya and asking them about a book. Then, they always appear to hear "hon" as "manga" and won't look up the right thing.

...it's like, I'm holding three other BOOKS, and you're still trying to look up the manga?

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[User Picture]From: cyfis
2005-07-14 06:36 pm (UTC)
I find that the nod-and-smile approach seems to be successful in conveying a general impression of harmlessness, and can take the place of verbal communication sometimes. I mean, if you go up to a register with a stack of books, look at the number printed and hand them a card (usually in a small plastic dish), there's not that much verbal communication required. And anyway Tokyo shopkeepers are probably quite used to random foreign tourists.

That reminds me, I should go talk to my bank about being out of the country. Having my card locked halfway across the world isn't an experience I want to repeat.
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[User Picture]From: ketsugami
2005-07-14 07:45 pm (UTC)
See, if you don't talk, you might be able to pass for native. The rest of us don't have that option. ^_^
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[User Picture]From: falsedrow
2005-07-15 02:06 am (UTC)
What... did this happen to EVERYONE here?

Except me. I spent all of, like, $200 in Canada. Go me.
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[User Picture]From: siliconrose
2005-07-15 06:20 am (UTC)
Not exactly. I tried to pull money out of the ATM and had it reject me. Turned out I tried to get ~$100 more dollars than I could take out in a day.
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[User Picture]From: siliconrose
2005-07-15 06:19 am (UTC)
You have to be careful of the cash limitations, though. Many Japanese stores require you to spend over $50 to be able to use credit.
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