Other World Travellers... (08/12/00)

Mr.World Traveller - You know the type, they've been to Timbuktu and back. Usually Japan's about 5th on their list of 'To-Visit' countries. I like this type a lot, usually adventurous, confident people, who know more about life than any of the stuffy well-bred businessman you might encounter. Those businessguys like they think they know it all just because they've got large salaries and a few extra responsibilities. You're just running the rat race dudes, and you ain't gonna leave a mark when you finish it. Once you've been to another country you get a taste of the travel bug which Mr.World Traveller lives by. Where you can't feel settled once you go back to your home country. And some of them never go back. It may seem a pointless to some, but you have to admit this form of non-repetitive life certainly beats the crap out of a 9-5 existence.

Ex-Pats - They came, they saw, they stayed. I might have mentioned it before, you see, some people love that glorious country called Japan, and some hate it. Either way, most people find some things they just dislike, whether it be the lack of individuality in the society, being un-accepted on Japanese terms, language struggle, or just boredom. But, occasionally, you get someone (like myself), who feels completely at home in this strange, foreign, weird and wonderful land and decides to make it their new home. Some of us desire a little bit more than fish+chips and Coronation Street (my God, I swore I'd kill myself if I ever heard that bloody title tune again, and I managed to avoid it for a full 3 weeks when I got back to England). I don't know why some of these other people stay, I guess some do it for the money they get, and realise they can't make that kind of bread back home; some get married too quickly before they realise they can't handle life there, and get stuck in a family situation, and some just must love it there for the same reasons I do, cause it's something completely different and exciting to what you grew up with. A theory I've got is that people who have close family contacts are too afraid to up and hop it abroad permanently.. Probably Japan to them will always only be a 'holiday' destination.

I guess this is the best place to live if you're very spiritual, and also it's a country with a huge population, so who knows what type of people you can find from one corner to the other? For me, Londons a good place to live, but I can't stand English weather, it's too cold, and let's face it, England's for grown ups, and Japan's for kids at heart like me. I think the Ozzies have got a point when they call us Whinging Pomm's, but that's cause of the weather dudes!. The weather over in Japan is really great in the summer aswell and ranges from sub-tropical in Kyushu, to Nordic snowfall in Hokkaido.
One things for sure, some of the long term ex-pats'll shock ya. Some of them are so Japanese, you won't believe it. I once met an American who'd been there twenty-five years. He could hardly remember English. Oh, that's another thing, wait till you meet your first Gaikei-jin (I guess that's what you'd call them). These are the gaijin born and raised in Japan. Man do they freak me out, they look like you, they're the same height as you, but they act 100% Japanese. There's nothing more bizarre, I swear. Most of them can't even speak English. Bii-zaaarre

Whingers - People who hear all about the money that can be made in Japan, so they come all the way over, spend all day talking to the other whinging teachers. Moaning about how they hate Japan all the time and cursing their worst students, before they fill their obliged time in Japan, and go back to their country and whinge some more about the bad points of Japanese society. Go home early guys!. I dunno what to say to these types, I guess they're no different than all the people who flock to the States to follow the American dream, the only difference is, a lot of these types always look down on Japan like it's an inferior country to their own.. I can't stand pessimismn (you try spelling that then?) in people in a foreign country. It just brings the rest of us down. It just seems a bit of a piss-take that these people never have anything good to say about Japan. Normally they're completely ignorant turds that get up your nose half the time with their moaning and groaning, and they never have a single Japanese friend. Ah well, luckily I can say this is quite a rare breed. The worst ones you meet are the ones who've been in Japan too long - because they actually come out with some good points that actually make sense..

Mr.Middle Age Crisis - The kind of condenscending bank-manager types who quit a good job in their own country to come to Japan for different reasons, usually financial. I swear there must be nothing more irritating than going to Japan, getting a 'real' job and finding you're under the authority of another bloody gaijin, who is a Mr.Middle-Age-Crisis. Fully settled for a few years, and probably married to a Japanese, they really feel (mistakenly) like they've been 'accepted' over there as 'one of them', and you, the newbie, are a piece of shit trying to infest their territory. They wont give you an easy time, and if you work with them, expect to be back-stabbed, ignored, misinformed, told you should go back home (by another bloody foreigner!!!), and don't expect ever to recieve credit for your hard-work. I reckon these types know that deep down and feel like they have to vent their frustration from being treated so differently after a long period of time on the new to Japan types. Usually they hold senior positions in English Schools, and can speak fluent Japanese. Some are good and some are just plain patronising to other foreigners. They really treat you like shit sometimes. They don't seem to understand the plight the newly-initialised teacher goes through, and make it hell for everybody by pretending like they know everything there is to know about teaching English. You nod to them on the street and they just ignore you. Like I said before, some are genuine nice guys who can offer good-advice and general good-will, and some are just middle-age losers who're rejects from their own countries, but successful in Japan because, being foreign, Japanese can't read gaijin like we can, and employ them anyway. You have to understand, in Japan, age comes before skills, so you do end up serving under a lot of bums's sometimes..It's just bad luck if you end up there, and it's another good reason to find out a lot about company's your applying for from other gaijin. More than once I've heard guys talking about their asshole gaijin boss'. These guys get frustrated by the fact that even though times might be changing, you're always the outsider to the Japanese majority. These idiots seriously believe that in a country with only a 1% foreign population they can really be treated completely like another Japanese. I swear , it's only if you're slighty nuts you can really feel at home in Japan. I am though, so.

The Know-It-All - You get 'em everywhere else, so why not here? The 'oh...I'm not saying that my Japanese is excellent, but---' Yes, these are the people that study for everything most of their life, and feel it's their right to correct every mistake another gaijin (or sometimes even Japanese!) makes in writing Kanji or speaking. I think you know the type, not the kind of person that 'politely' suggests you've made a mistake or something else, but the type who has the say something sarcastic while he watches you write a perfectly legible letter, like 'Noooo! That's not how to write Kanji properly!' and proceed to give you a full lecture on the 'taught' method of writing each little character correctly. They might even laugh at your poor Japanese, even though you only got off the plane yesterday. Luckily, these guys are not natural's at languages usually (if you do find one then just watch out), and struggle with the rest of us, so often their Japanese is worse than the common man who's been there awhile. One good trick is to get a bunch of you and your friends to watch TV around him/her and laugh synchronously like you actually understand it, and then look at him/her like an idiot for not getting the joke, that soon knocks them off their high horse. The trouble is, Japanese always say your Japanese is good, even when it's absolute shit, but these sorry types actually believe it. Like the book I started learning Japanese from says 'If they say that it means you're not good enough yet. It's when they 'don't' say that, that you know you're getting somewhere....' Normally they come and go..you get sick of teaching them the simple stuff in the beginning, and then watch as they try to better your Japanese after they've had just a few lessons.

Far Away Fred-Oh you know old Fred, alias Billy-No-Friends, Pikey Pete, Tommy Dipsh*t, because he was 'that' guy, you remember, right? The one who used to sit in the corner of the class-room alone. You forgot his name, but you'll always remember how the nastier kids in the class used to play tricks on him, cause he just didn't seem to have enough brains to do anything. Although he took notes and seemed like he was studying hard, he was probably just thinking about why slugs die if you pour salt on them. He was that dude that your friends you to meet on the way to school and joke 'Hey Fred, there's no school today! didn't you get the letter from the teacher in the mail this morning?'..Poor old Fred would look surprised and just turn away and start walking right back home...amen. And then he quit school at 17 to go work in his fathers little printing company and dissappeared for good. Ten years later you're watching American Pie and thinking about your past and you wonder..Hey, wasn't there a dip-shit in my high-school called Fred? Oh yeah! I forgot all about that guy..I wonder what he's doing now.
Present Day: Well guess what?..Yep..One day Fred picked up a book about Japan..He thought the girls looked pretty, and that they wouldn't tease him like he'd been teased all his life. He thought the people looked kind and honest. So Fred quit the day job, borrowed money of his over-protective mum, who made him promise to write every day, and headed off to the Land of Uki-E. Now the god-damn place is fulla Freds! And they even fit in, which is the strange thing, hell, they don't care if he's dumb, he's foreign!!..Walk into any antique oriental shop in Tokyo, and you'll see our friend, Japanese for Beginners book in hand, pointing to the shop-keeper and say 'O--HA--EE-YO--GO-ZA-EE-MA-ZU!' and slam the book closed, fully happy in his achievements. Anybody remember Revenge of the Nerds..when that jock guy is on the roof watching the bookworms moving into the Residential Halls, and he's like:







And then everybody else joins in, in the chorus..


That's Fred that is.. I salute you Fred!

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