Bobby On The Loose!

January 12, 2009, 9:35 am
Filed under: Study Abroad in Tokyo

One of the truly exciting parts of my study abroad experience is that I really don’t know what to expect.  I can read pages of books and hear people tell me of what a wonderful city Tokyo is, but going to a place whose culture, language, and lifestyle are astronomically different than my own makes it difficult to completely associate myself with what lies ahead.  My comfort zone has vanished, which is necessary for the experience to be successful.   Already, I have seen such differences in communication, food, and etiquette that have expanded my appreciation for Japanese culture.  

Today, for example, I went to a restaurant for lunch, and based on a picture on the menu, I ordered something that looked like beef and vegetables.  I did my best to speak to the waitress, who suggested to me that I did not know what I was ordering.  But, I thought maybe it was all confused in translation, so I ordered it anyway.  When I received my meal, I wish I had taken the waitress’s advice.  It looked like some type of Korean tofu, and it was cold.  I tried a tiny piece, and it didn’t taste like anything, but I couldn’t get past the texture.  I ate the vegetables that it came with, and they were okay (not great though), until the waitress came over and felt really bad that I did not like it.  I explained that the vegetables were good (using the little Japanese I know how to speak), so she prepared me a whole dish of the vegetables for me to eat!  She was very kind and not offended since she realized we were foreigners…that probably isn’t something that a waitress in America would do for a foreign customer who didn’t like their food!  After returning home, I Googled “Korean Jello,” because that is what it looked like, and it turned out to be “Do-to-ri Mook”, a Korean dish made from acorns.  Needless to say, I do not regret not eating it!


Do-To-Ri Mook

Do-To-Ri Mook

While Do-to-ri Mook may be an acquired taste, I hope that by the end of my trip, there are some other ethnic foods that I enjoy.  Even though lunch was a bust, I was proud that I at least tried to eat something different, instead of going to McDonalds again!  I also hope that my Japanese language skills improve, which is certain to happen considering I am taking another semester of Japanese and I will be immersed in it everyday.  Lastly, I hope to take away not just an appreciation of Japanese culture and customs, which thus far are very fascinating, but also a different perspective on how I act as an American.  Oh, and since I am here for school, I hope to get good grades too! 🙂


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