Things that you never really think you will ever talk about in front of 75% of the staff at your school, how to give a urine sample.
In a few weeks all of the ALTs in my town will have to have medical checkups. It is a standard part of being employed here. So much so that everyone is very blasé about it. But of course, guess who has never had the experience of having a proper physical checkup in Japan? Why the silly foreigner, who half understands Japanese at the best of times.
My vice principal walked over to my desk with some paper work and instead of doing the usual “let’s see if she understands when I give her the paperwork”, he decided that it was ultimately easier to rope my poor English teacher into the fray. Giving me the paperwork and what appeared to be a little plastic bottle, he told my teacher to explain to me how to use it.
And of course I heard the words, medical checkup and was like oh no. Poor English teacher comes round to my desk and crouches down, muttering through a chuckle how is he going to say what he wants to say. At this point I was completely confused but all of the other teachers were listening and watching very carefully so I had a feeling this was going to be bad.
My English teacher proceeded to tell me how to make a little box out of the bits of cardboard and that I needed to pee in it, then use the little bottle to suck some of it up and bring it to my assessment at the start of August. Needless to say as he started to tell me I was turning a fantastic colour of red and giggling in an enormous amount of embarrassment, he got a little stuck on some of the more technical words and the other teachers started to tease him. He started laughing and could barely talk, which made me laugh more. Then all hell broke loose, everyone was laughing and calling out things only making everyone laugh even more. I eventually shrank down in my chair and hid my laughing red face against my desk.
The young male maths teacher even quipped in English, which was surprising on a few levels, “nice Japanese culture” in relational to my natural response to cover my face with my hands; which is a normal response to embarrassment, I think???? Especially when the teachers call out the English teacher to then make poses to demonstrate even though I said that I understood and that he didn’t have to. They knew I understood but wanted to make him make the poses for a laugh.
So while I die in the staffroom from the heat and the humidity of the Japanese summer, I will also be dying from embarrassment too. Although it’s days like these that I am reminded that even though I am from a different country, people all over the world are pretty much the same. Sure, they have different upbringings, beliefs and personal situations but deep down we are all the same, we’d all mock and tease someone who had to give the poor young foreigner advice on how to pee into a cardboard box. 🙂