Mikawa: Sorry to hear that.
This thread is starting to get depressing. Okay. I'm going to try and lighten it up with a slightly amusing true experience I had.
Not long ago I was living in Hawaii (I'm actually on a combat deployment right now, even though my profile says I reside in California. I can't list my current location so instead I chose my home state.) Well I was eating dinner with a friend at a popular downtown Japanese steak house called Kobe's. As one would expect of such an establishment, the seating places groups of people together around a chef whom entertains with his culinary skills.
One of the couples accompanying the table I was at happened to be a newlywed couple from Japan. They were sitting directly next to me at one end of the table. At no point during their time there did they speak any English. My nihongo is very limited right now, and was even more so the few months ago that this story took place. I know it was rude of me to try listening to their conversation, but I was trying to use the opportunity to train my ear for the tone of Japanese speakers. Not thinking that I would be able to actually understand anything they were saying, I was able to learn a few key things: 1) The husband wanted to know what they should do after dinner. 2) The wife felt it was getting too dark outside and suggested they go back to their hotel. 3) They were talking about what to do while at the hotel. Yet this was when they really lost me in the conversation, cause I didn't understand any of the words being used at that time.
A few glasses of sake later, and I muster up the courage to test what little nihongo I knew. I call out to the chef and ask him to please pass me the soy sauce. The newlywed couple were talking happily loud, laughing, and having a great time. That was until they heard me speak Japanese. Then suddenly, they get this terrified look on their face. The husband asks his wife if she thinks I could understand what they were talking about. She shrugs. Then they suddenly become extremely quiet for the rest of the dinner. No longer talking.
Haha. I don't know if they discussed intimate things that they were afraid I might had heard, or maybe they insulted me and were afraid I heard that. Not saying they would have done such a thing. Yet apparently they were jostled about something after fearing that I might be able to speak Japanese. I felt bad actually. I didn't know they were going to get quiet afterwards.
Okay. That's my story. Anybody have a good culture shock story to tell? I suppose one that sticks more to the theme of this thread than my blatantly off topic story.