Do you have BOYFRIEND? And other conversations with Japanese girls

I’m a bit dumb, so I chose to get tutored in Japanese this semester instead of, say organic chemistry or calculus. No matter. I got a tutor kind enough to tell me about this event:

The event was at Showa Boston, a language and culture institute located about three miles away out in Jamaica Plain. Showa Boston is actually just a branch of Showa University, an all-women college located in metropolitan Tokyo. Students hoping to improve their English skills can ship up to Boston to study abroad. Showa Boston’s location is a little isolated from downtown Boston, though– it’s nestled out among trees and grassy hills and suburban neighborhoods. Thus, Showa Boston is trying to connect to the local community. They want their students to connect with Americans. To practice English.

Thus, they decided to invite freeloaders (like me) over for free food.

I’ll take it.

So I hopped on a bus, and an hour later, I found myself in a room packed with Japanese girls. I was with my tutor and two other guys, but we ended up splitting up– doing so would give more students the chance to practice English. I wandered over to the food table alone and tried to make myself a rice ball…

After clumsily slapping together some poorly made rice balls, I awkwardly asked to sit down at a table. Three girls sitting around me were brave enough to strike up a conversation. However, their English was a little shaky. Still, we all tried our best:

We chatted some more:

And then it somehow turned into this…

And then into this: 

I'm a cynic. It's true.

And since they were getting the chance to practice their English, I decided to take the chance to practice my Japanese.

I spent the rest of the evening speaking in half-Japanese, half-English. The girls were merciful to me, though, and used only English. (My listening skills suck.) We discussed celebrities, movies, music, Justin Bieber and the Backstreet Boys… typical girl talk. And at the same time, I couldn’t help but notice the culture gap. America and Japan are worlds apart in terms of politeness:

Overall? It was a bit awkward, a bit nerve-wracking, and totally awesome. The three girls I met were really nice. The food was tasty. I got to test out my substandard Japanese skills. And now I’m more excited than ever to go to Japan. Only 18 days until I leave! But who’s counting?

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