Upon reaching Japan I realized that the first thing Japanese people learn to say in English is “this is a pen.” There is no logical explanation for this, besides the fact that it is a totally useless phrase. I in fact live in America and have very rarely had to tell someone that “this is a pen.” One could draw comparisons to the propensity of an American to learn “where is the bathroom” in any foreign language they encounter before anything else. Regardless of its relevance in normal conversation “this is a pen” works as a wicked icebreaker with visiting Japanese exchange students.

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