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Internship Report, 6/10/95

The most significant events in the past two weeks concern my arrival in Japan and the subsequent challenges of adjustment to Japanese life. This is the focus of this report.

Hopefully, my first two weeks in Japan will be my hardest two weeks, because they sure have been hard. It's been three years since I have spoken any Japanese, and I was very surprised to learn how rusty mine is. However, I've had the pleasure of watching much of it come back to me -- a little every day. Along with the language, I've also found that I have forgotten everything I know about Japanese manner, and I am doing all that is in my power to relearn it. The last thing I want to do is to be thought of as a rude, overbearing gaijin. Because, to a certain extent, the Japanese kind-of expect gaijins to be that way, they are at least somewhat understanding when I goof up. But I don't expect that the free ride will last forever.

I arrived at the airport on Friday, and had no clue what to do from there because Dr. Farnsworth never relayed the information in Sonku-san's fax to me. I had tried to find out for myself but he had skipped town, and nobody else new a thing about it. It was very scarry, but we decided to wait it out. An hour or two later, Takai-san picked us up and drove us to our apartment in the company's family dormatory. It is a nice apartment, but it was extremely filthy when we moved in and took us about a week to clean up. (We were, frankly, surprised that they could give us such a filthy place without embarrassment, but at the same time very thankful to have it.)

I spent Monday, my first day at Seino, meeting the directors of each department and learning from them what the missions of their departments are. I was left with the impression that Seino was a much bigger company than I had ever imagined, and that they were doing a lot more than shipping.

Seino assigned me to work in their multimedia software production group, and I began my first project the next day, Tuesday. Since then, I have been working very hard developing specifications and a proposal for a software package to be used in elementary schools. The software will allow the children to build a sophisiticated, electronic "kabeshinbun" (wall newspaper) with all the fun multimedia frills.

For the most part, I am the only one working on this project, so my interaction with coworkers is, unfortunately, limited only to the moments in which I ask for help reading a kanji or using their computers. Every few days, however, I have a 10 minute meeting with my boss, Torii-san, to show him where I'm at and ask him if I'm going in the right direction, at which time he either approves or disapproves of my work and gives me further instruction.

I'm very much interested in the "chain of command" I have been observing here in the company and hope to learn more about it, including the appropriate tango and the persons' names.

My wife and I are somewhat concerned about finances, and we have put a great deal of effort into figuring out how we can make do. My monthly allowance from the company is 15 man which, after tithing becomes 13.5 man. The monthly rent for our apartment is 27.5 sen, and utilities are about 1 man, which leaves us monthly with about 97.5 sen to handle all other food and supplies for two people. This figure does not account for travel expenses, which I am sure will come once the seminar is in full swing. We would appreciate any advice you have on how to setsuyaku suru out here in Japan and some information regarding the future travel expenses we should save for.