Japan Letter #2

October 17th 2007

Dear Friends,

They cut down my rice field. I don’t know when or how, but last week I awoke from my troublesome sleep on a bed made of wooden planks and when I gazed out the living room window I saw that the field had been cut bare. Only a watery ditch remains of my beloved friend. Maybe they cut the rice to save it from a harsh winter or maybe just maybe, in the dead of night the rice grains gathered their belongings and set out for the promise land.

With my rice paddy companion gone, a new friend has moved into my neighborhood. As I lay in my plank bed frame (praying for a mattress) at night, I can faintly hear a soft chirping noise from out my window. Then a second chirping noise can be heard and finally a fleet of ringing chirps accompanies the chirps. The first time I heard this chirping sound I asked my brother “What am I hearing?”. He simply explained that it was a chorus of frogs rehearsing for a forest animal theatre production of “When Frogs Churp: A musical”

School is wild. Going to school with just boys drastically changes the dynamic of the classes. Without girls in school the education is quite unbalanced. School is an educational equivalent of having all your classes held in a boys locker-room. The rowdy banter and lewd behavior is nonstop.

Outside of school, I feel more free and tend to enjoy myself. On weekends I walk around the city and go to different cultural events and interesting places. Also on the weekend, I join a group of peace loving Japanese people outside of a train station and give “Free hugs” to anyone who wants one.(anyone means anyone, I have hugged very dirty old men) Free Hugs is a growing movement worldwide. Please look up “Free Hugs” in Google and you will see that “Free Hugs” is making a worldwide impression. I have done this about five times and each time I meet new people and have a good time.

I have learned that generalizations of culture are garbage. Having little first hand information about Japanese culture before coming, I had allowed silly books and silly people to fill me with their generalizations of the Japanese.  I have meet many living exceptions to these “rules”. I am trying to throw away all of my pre-conceptions about my host culture. That was just a blindfold hindering real communication. I guess it is entirely true that people are all just people, fawled and gifted as we all are.

Life here has helped me to understand how international students can feel. Language is a barrier, but culture is a much higher barrier. I spend most of my time with an Australian guy and we speak English. We have a school life similar to the FSS ESL students. Its not that I am shy, but that an invisible communication barrier exists that the natives probably cannot feel. This barrier makes communication beyond chitchat difficult for me. I think this barrier can been found in the halls of FSS too. Heard that we have a new student this year whom is quite shy. Maybe there are other forces at play making someone “seem” shy. My American class knows that I am not a shy person, but my Japanese class may believe otherwise. Because reaching out is difficult as an international student, I become very happy when people reach out to me, even if I cant show it. Just try reaching out to people, You might just make their day.

Its getting colder here, are you guys wrapped up in your Eagles jackets yet. I hope the SAT went well for all of you. I miss all of you uniquely, I brought my yearbook along with everyone’s kind words written inside. I peer at it once in a while.

I’m jealous that you all will see Robins final Halloween outfit. I’m am expecting pictures of his extravagant and glittery senior year costume.

Take care, Deren Temel

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