How Do You Do?

I didn't realize this until I moved to Japan, but apparently in America we are accustomed to saying "How do you do?" I now realize this after saying it approximately 1500 times in the last month. I am trying to wean my teachers, and students off of this phrase and use the more appropriate phrase "How are you?," but its an ongoing battle. Unfortunately the reponse to either question is "I'm fine, thank you, and you?" Explaining the emotional significance of the answer "I'm fine" will prove to be quite challenging as well. But I am up to the challenge!

So hello everyone! I have not been able to write on my blog for over a month, and I've only sent out two group emails so I feel totally disconnected from you all. I am sorry and now, after a long month of Internet silence, I have Yahoo BB, the greatest thing in Japan! I tried to post at school but the Mito watchdog, Bess would not have it and blocked the site from me. How terribly sad and disconcerting.

Nearly one month in Japan and life is just now settling down. I think it won't be till probably the end of May or June till I feel like I am settling down. I can say that living in a foreign country is quite different then going on a six week campaign. Each has its challenges, but living here is ultimately more difficult. One of the reasons is that there is no eventual "escape" that you can long for that happens after six weeks, or a couple of months, or however long your stay is. Therefore you have to live with the reputation you create for yourself and your people (Americans). So as oppossed to being a tourist you are actually a citizen which totally changes your perspective.

I've found so far that being in Japan is totally disorienting. Western culture is so foreign to people in Japan, and thus Americanism is quite foreign. We pride ourselves on our individualism and who is the most unique, the most comfortable being themselves, etc where as the Japanese see this as not only odd but something to avoid at all costs. Instead the value is the group and the sense of "We" not "I." Natually either extreme is not optimal, and the healthy individual finds themselve somewhere in the middle of "We" and "I" but for now I am struggling to see how that works for me. Being a loud goofy American with a funny laugh may get you laughs here in Japan, but not because you are jovial but more because you are strange and weird, and should probably be avoided.

Ok, this was a bit too James Joyce style for me but I did want to get something up and let you all know how I'm doing. Talk to you soon!