Hābādo Daigaku

Hābādo Daigaku no Coleman.

Last week Randy and I started our lessons with the Japanese tutor. We certainly have a long way to go. For those curious, today’s Heading is “Harvard University” in Japanese. Because the Japanese alphabet doesn’t have certain sounds, the way they say Harvard comes off as Habado. In fact, it appears most of their modern words are just butchered versions of English:

Igirisu = English

enjinia = engineer

biru = beer

So, on the plus side, that should make learning some Japanese easier. But the problem I’m finding is that their sentence structures are completely different than English (and Romance languages). They’ll have sentences (long sentences) without verbs. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

Even after two lessons, though, I’m picking up on things. For example, if I’m watching television and a commercial comes on and says the phone number, I can understand a few numbers. And I can understand a little bit of what the voice in the elevator says to me as we descend to the first floor. Progress!

Seriously, I can’t imagine what it would have been like to do an expat assignment 2o, or even 10 years ago. Thanks to technology, the 6,700 miles between Boston and Tokyo feel like mere blocks at times. Randy has us connected with a Boston phone number that rings at our apartment. Even better, unlike 20 years ago, international long-distance calls are free (I remember paying more than $1/minute to call Scotland and Ireland in the 90’s). I am actually talking on the phone with my parents more now than I did when I was in the same time zone.

We also have internet access and thanks to a VPN connection Randy set up, we can access network TV shows back in the US. Thanks to smart phones, we can use Google maps to find our way around the city easily. Also, thanks to technology, we’ve made some local expat friends in our area.

But there are disadvantages to this, I think. I mean, aside from Randy’s co-workers, we’ve not befriended any actual Japanese people. The friends we’ve met have been from Australia, England, and Chicago. I think we need to branch out. Otherwise, what’s the point of being here if you’re not going to take advantage of everything it has to offer?


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