"Impossible is not in my dictionary!" I wish I could take credit for these wise and spirited words, but they belong to my new friend, Etsuko. Etsuko and her husband have so graciously opened their home for me here in Japan, the first stop on my Watson adventure.
To give some context for this declaration, which has since become my mantra, I must say first that culture shock is a real thing, my friends! A very real thing...
I will be honest, I was unprepared for how overwhelming this whole experience would be. I was near tears in the morning on my first full day in Japan, and I hadn't even gone anywhere or done anything yet. There is just so much to take in! To be in a place where you cannot understand the language or read any of the signs, the food is different, and your body is utterly confused because of jet lag, it is a lot to handle.
With the help of Etsuko, who I am incredibly grateful for, I did successfully run some errands on that first day. But it was the last straw when my ATM card refused to work. I tried about five different ATM machines, even one that explicitly stated it accepted foreign cards, but to no avail. As the tears forced their way out, despite my inner pleading to remain strong and calm, I called my bank. This of course required me to figure out how make international calls, a challenging task given my fragile state. Nothing was wrong on the bank's end, my card should work, no problem! I felt helpless and it was then that Etsuko said, "Impossible is not in my dictionary!" I smiled. She was right, of course. And sure enough after a trip to two more banks, we finally found an ATM where I could get cash. Whew!
This seems like such a small thing and I'm embarrassed that I broke down in tears over it. I knew deep down it would work out, but this culture shock thing... it's rough! Of course things won't go smoothly all the time and this incident was my first of many lessons in being flexible and dealing the inevitable roadblocks I will encounter.
Not to worry though! Despite my battle the ATM, I am absolutely loving all the new things I am experiencing in Japan! I will post more soon, with pictures too!