Heya, I’m Yue Chin.
I was born and bred in Singapore but moved to London, UK for my undergraduate degree in Geophysics (though my family thinks I did a degree in travelling and chillaxing – I swear it’s not true!). At the moment, I’m doing my Masters in GPES and I’ve got a year left to go. My research delves into nutrient intakes of corals and bivalves and the extent of their trophic plasticity.
Now that we’ve got the basic introduction out of the way, perhaps I should speak a little more about my overseas experiences. My parents are firm believers of travel as a way of broadening the mind and as such, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity of venturing to lots of places around the world as I was growing up. Living abroad as an undergraduate, alone in a different country, allowed me to grow as a person and become more tolerant of differences. I wish I could claim to have conquered that spiritual mountain but my terribly flawed self will just have to count myself lucky to have started traversing that path so early. I’ve learnt lots more about a different culture, and despite my native language being English, there were and will always be British quirks that confounded me. Did you know ‘peng’ in the UK means good-looking?! I most certainly did not. Also, with the well-known atrocity that is British cuisine, I was able to wean myself from needing to have good and cheap Singaporean food everyday to treating it as a rare fugu-level delicacy and worth the insane prices they were in London.
Armed with this superpower, I was clearly ready to face the minefield that is Japanese cuisine (whale ice cream, anyone?). I’m joking. I love Japanese food – not kidding about the whale ice cream though, you can find that in Tsukiji. Living in Japan, however, is a completely different ballgame. I’ve been here lots of times but nothing could have prepared me for the countless strange things I see on a daily basis. I must confess to taking loads of sneaky snapchats of these things (e.g. whale ice cream) and titling them a non-kid-friendly version of ‘What is this?!!’. The standard reply to this is ‘it’s Japan’. Makes for interesting conversations and lots of laughs though!
There have also been lots of misunderstandings, compounded by my pathetic knowledge of Japanese. This was never the case in London, where everything was generally understandable despite being pretty eccentric; people actually unicycle to school there. Not understanding the language in your country of residence really makes you understand the importance of sign language. Also, incoming gaijins, please thank the heavens for katakana. Saves your tummies from things like pig intestines at dinnertime while trying to decipher the menu.
Apart from the inherent cultural gap, i do think Japan, and Todai, has rewarded me with multitudes of opportunities. I’ve met and bonded with people from all over the world here; I’ve learnt new things about Japanese culture and other cultures as well that I wouldn’t have back in the UK or Singapore. One thing that people say about London is when one gets sick of London, one is sick of life. The same is true of Tokyo: whatever this city may be, it is never boring. In this weblog, I’ll be posting lots about my studies in Todai, life in Tokyo and new experiences in Japan. Join me as I write about Tokyo, both as a gaijin seeing Tokyo for the first time and a true-blue Tokyoite.