I finished reading Learning to Bow by Bruce Feiler last night. The book is an account of his year in a rural town teaching for JET. It is a fascinating read, covering his daily experiences with his students and co-workers and peppered with little lessons for potential JETters.
After reading his book I have come to the realization that I am in trouble because I DON'T SPEAK ANY JAPANESE! I know that a lot of JETters don't speak the language and that if they can do it, I can do it, but it still freaks me out. With the exception of China, I have always been able to get by in a country by speaking English. Signs are in English. People speak English. My guidebook is in English.
Japan won't be like that. Feiler writes about how Japanese can list off the 500 English words that they have to know by the 9th grade, but how the average Japanese couldn't walk into a store to buy a pack of gum.
I am going to have to learn Japanese and I am going to have to learn it fast. There are going to be enough communication barriers between me and my new Japanese friends. I don't need language to be an even larger barrier.
Although, Feiler does write that pretending to not understand often comes in handy...like when you were little and you get in trouble and your excuse is that you didn't understand the instructions.
At least I know how to say that I'm hungry.
I can build off of that.