||[Jul. 14th, 2005|09:28 am]
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...