I find myself working long Japanese hours. In Japanese hours a regular American working day last ten hours rather than eight. I find myself staying at work for eleven American hours to prepare for the next day.
((This last section was written last week and over the following week I learned some great time management techniques that have cup my working day down to nine hours.))
When a Japanese employee works over time, they leave the office for a late dinner and then return to burn the midnight oil. ((Actually oil, even midnight oil, is expensive here so they slow cook their retina’s in fluorescent light rather that touch the precious oil.))
I knew from conception that this job would be consuming. At the information meeting I attended in Boston they blatantly told me. “ There will be lots of work, you won’t have time to learn Japanese, and you won’t have much free time”. Hubris Deren thought that he could divert all those pitfalls. Although I am determined not to succumb to that reality, I have grown accustomed to it. I have decided that the company and its children, can have my weekdays. I enjoy my children and co-workers, it is merely the All-English environment and the lack of free time that is taking time to get used too. This is the first time I have surrendered any of my time to another entity. I guess doing this is one of the first steps to being a “grown-up”.
On the bright side, having had to give my life to work has reignited an ambitious fire in me that hasn’t burned for years. I am almost feverish to get a graduate school scholarship and to become fluent in Japanese. I guess it took pinching me out of complacency to make me come alive.
Through out the week I sift through Internet and my small local network (actual people) to find information about the pantheon of Japanese scholarship programs. I had an informational interview with a few medical students who receive scholarships and tomorrow I will go to the local university to consult with a professor about Japanese scholarship programs. I have revamped my resume and even begun brain storming a research proposal. I am determined to learn the Japanese perspective of US Japanese diplomatic relations. This dream of mine has been entertaining my spirits whilst I am plugging away at work.
My second goal is to get a higher level of Japanese proficiency. Japanese proficiency, for the purpose of work and study, is categorized into levels, which are designated by tests. There are five levels with five being the lowest and one being the highest. Five years ago as a high school student I passed the Level three exam. I am now working on my reading and writing in preparation for the level 2 exams in July. These exams are comprehensive and my limited free time will make preparing for this exam a challenging hobby. My goal after research level 2 is to apply for a government job as a Coordinator of International Relations within a Japanese city. This job includes planning cultural events, administrating International services, and interpretation, and hospital visit assistance. It would be my dream first step into the realm of public diplomacy.
After today I don’t think I’ll write much about myself, I think that I have observed enough oddities and gotten over the majority of my adjusting. From here on out it is about Japan.