Mount Fuji from Mount Kachi Kachi

Mount Fuji from Mount Kachi Kachi

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Japan Life : Introduction

Salam..
Oh my god, I have only about 7 months to go before I say sayonara to Japan, for good!
I can’t believe that I didn’t even blog about my new life here. All the small and exciting things about Japan that I wanted to share with whomever that might come across this humble blog! Yes, talk about work stress and PROCRASTINATION! But it is better late than never. Yes, let’s do it. Where shall I begin? Hmm.
Maybe I should recap a little bit how I end up in Japan in the first place. I actually moved to Japan for a staff transfer program at our headquarter office. Every year a few employees will be selected from our overseas affiliate companies for such programme. Depending on the requirement, the training period differs from 6 months up to 2 years. My training duration is of course, 2 years. And plus another 6 months attending a full time language course at the Kyoto Japanese Language School.

On Oct 2012, I flew alone from Malaysia, reached Kansai International Airport in Osaka in early morning, and managed to find my way to our HQ office in Nagaokakyo, Kyoto. Actually there were 5 other trainees from Thailand in my batch. We are all from different departments but we are required to take the compulsory language course before start working. The reason is, Japanese speaks minimal English. MINIMAL. We need to master  the basic level of Japanese language in order to survive.

So for the first 6 months, every day we had to travel about 45minutes from Nagaokakyo by JR train and subway to our school in Imadegawa. The school conducts various programmes such as summer classes, university entry prep class, business class and intensive course such as ours. Mainly, the students come from China and Europe. As I recalled the memories from my Language School day, it made me cringed! It was a fun school, but I couldn’t catch up classes properly. It was so stressful that I lost weight and even fell ill a few times. As someone who uses English and Malay Language my whole life, I was clueless and scored the worst mark among all. The teachers had to go really slow with me, the trainees from Thai were not much of a help either as they converse mostly in their mother tongue. But, even though I was a slow learner, I managed to shine (or maybe sparkle..) at what I do best, TALKING! Despite the difficulties, I was selected to join the school Japanese speech contest and I was the best presenter during our final presentation test. Once I've finished my language course, my 2 years life as a 社会人 (members of the society) in Japan begins.
Graduation Day!
Before coming to Japan, I was already informed by my company that I will be the first Muslim staff to work in the headquarter office. So I had to be prepared mentally and physically in order to quickly adapt to my new environment. Being a person who wears hijab, it is a huge challenge for me (even until now) to meet people's weired stares and suspicious look where ever I go. On a good day, I'll just smile back or look away pretending I didn't notice them. But as time goes by, especially on a bad bad day, I will stare back at them my head held high.

Still, Japanese are such a good people. Polite, high discipline and full of courtesy. But they are not very open yet to other cultures. They do not know much about Islam, and some don't even know where is Malaysia...(cry!!). Since the beginning of this journey, I have set a personal mission while I'm here, I'm gonna try to mix with as many Japanese people and promote more awareness about my religion and my country, even with the smallest gesture. I always believe that when you work overseas, no matter how small it (your work) is, you are carrying your country’s flag. 
At Tokyo Dome. My routine whenever I goes to Bigbang's concert.

When people ask me how do you feel working in Japan? Well I can say, I do feel proud but it can be very depressing as well especially because of the huge language barrier. What I've learned in school was only basic. Business Japanese is like a whole different level of the language. It took me almost 1 year to at least feel confident enough to speak in front of people in the language. You got to have thick skin and high sense of survival to adapt, it's not just sweet and candy talk.

So yeah, language is a big issue if you want to work in Japan it's no joke. But it is such a beautiful country that all your sufferings and dreads could disappear simply by enjoying it's nature and excitement!

To be continued...

Mount Fuji in Winter.
Cherry Blossom in Spring.

The Clan