Your Friend in Japan

My Daughter’s Surprises at University, and Peter Needs a New Pair of Shoes

Written by HotAnime

I’ve been having fun here in California, visiting with my daughter who has just started university. As expected, college is a big challenge to her as an ESL (English as a Second Language) student, though since she attended high school in Australia, she’s doing better than she would have been if she’d only studied in Japan. The biggest barrier is the difficult college-level vocabulary words, which are rarely encountered in daily life. One thing she’s been surprised at is the way some students in her class make mistakes that Japanese believe impossible for native English speakers, like there-their-they’re or your-you’re, or common spelling mistakes. The Japanese basically expect that native speakers know every bit of English perfectly, just by being born. I explained to her that, except for oddballs like her dad who go out of their way to study linguistics, most people aren’t aware of their own language from the outside.

As I prepared to head back to Japan I decided to visit an outlet mall to buy some new shoes, since I’d succeeded in wearing out my old Nikes. (With a shoe size of 26.5 cm/size 10 US, I’m usually able to find shoes in Japan, unlike gaijin with truly huge feet, though I prefer getting my shoes in America when I can.) While you might evaluate a pair of shoes for their snugness of fit, or padding, or how the tread fits your needs, I was looking for one thing: comfortable shoes that could be removed and slipped on again easily, without needing to be tied every time. In Japan, you remove shoes before entering all homes and many businesses, including J-List, which means you’ll be removing and putting on your shoes a dozen times a day. Because of this, you generally want shoes that are functional yet can be slipped on without undoing the laces — boots or basketball high-tops need not apply. Happily I found just the right pair of shoes to bring back to Japan with me tomorrow…

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