Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When In Japan...

Do as the Japanese do.

Shortly before the start of the work day in the lab, music plays over the intercom, and the people in the office area do a series of stretches. I do my best to follow along. Then there's a short assembly before work begins.

I've gone through all the documents the QC manager had for me, so now it looks like I'll be practicing experiments for the rest of the time. Some of the techniques are different from what I do at home. For example, most of their pipetting is done by mouth. (At home, I use automated pipets.) I haven't done mouth pipetting since high school biology class, when I got urea into my mouth. I'm doing it here for some of the work -- and yes, I've sucked up enzyme solution into my mouth again. Harmless, but not very tasty.

It can be hard to communicate with the people in the lab. Some are more fluent in English than others. We use gestures a lot. Sometimes they bring other people in to translate.

I use chopsticks at lunch, but my technique isn't the best. At this point, it's hard to retrain myself.

Getting to and from work is pretty straightforward. I take a taxi from the train station to work, and someone brings me back to the train station at the end of the day.

One of the people who can speak English very well (he and his family lived in London for several years) took me out for dinner last night. We had shabu shabu. If you're not familiar with that, a boiling pot of water is set on the table (which has a built-in heating unit), along with thinly sliced meat and vegetables. You cook the meat and vegetables in the water and dip it into sauce. Very filling--and very messy.

Yesterday at breakfast, I sat next to a couple of tourists. They're from Hawaii, though the man was originally from Chicago. (They were chatty types--at least he was.) When they got up to leave, he put on Groucho Marx glasses. I think he thought I was too young to know who that was, but I've seen a couple of the Marx Brothers movies.

Speaking of breakfast, it's time to eat. More later.

No comments:

Site Meter