Back in Japan After 10 Years!

2017, April 12 (Wednesday)

My sister and I have finally reached Japan, after being delayed because of the passport. As we had to come to Japan later than we were supposed to come, we had to travel to our school on our own, which meant we had to spend money on train and taxi expenses (Narita airport to Shimo-Ochiai is quite the distance). The other students who had their passports earlier were welcomed by the teachers and brought to the school via bus provided by the school. And we thought the bad luck brought about by the delay in passport ended there. How we were wrong, oh dear.

Luckily in Japan, unlike in Malaysia, the taxi drivers cannot decline the customers, regardless of the destination of the customers. Our taxi driver was very helpful with the baggage and very polite. In fact, at the end there we all kept bowing and saying thank you to each other that I was worried it was never going to end.

When we reached the school main campus, an Atsumi-sensei came out to assist us with settling in the dormitory, which was very near the school building. She was very pleasant and she even helped us with the bags and communicating with the person-in-charge of the student dormitory. I thought to myself, “Wow, but of course, Japanese service is different than Malaysian service.” But I made such conclusion too early.

Because when we were brought to our room, we were appalled. We expected it to be small, but there were a number of things that were different than what we were made to expect. One is that we were told that we were sharing the kitchen, shower and toilet with two other people, but the truth is that we were to share with four other people. Secondly, that our room size is the smallest (the other two rooms are twice as big as ours) and yet we are paying the same amount of rent as the other housemates. We found out later that the biggest room was initially reserved for us but because the other housemates reached earlier and requested a change, they managed to obtain the bigger rooms. Great. So now I learned one thing negative about Japanese politeness – they avoid diverging details when it would not seem favourable to people, even if those details are necessary.

But since we have paid for a three-months’ rental which was required to reserve the space for us, we had to no choice but to settle in. We were exhausted with the travelling, after all. We took the class placement tests before coming back to the dormitory to unpack. After we were done with the tests though, we were asked if we could attend the afternoon class on that day itself (we reached the school near noon) should we be allocated to the afternoon classes. Shocked with their eagerness, we had to refuse as it would be impossible to settle in a new class while our bags were unpacked and even the mattresses (which we paid for the dormitory to buy for us) were still in their boxes.

Fortunately for us, our Japanese level was determined to be intermediate and thus we were allocated to the morning classes. Aside from my sister and I, only our housemate from China has classes in the morning. Her campus however, is a different one, wherein they only have students from China.

For me, at first, it was difficult to get in the pace of the class as every morning, they had some kanji tests of which I had no idea about (turned out they have a book and a schedule of which day they would test which kanji) and mind you, I learned Japanese mostly on my own which meant kanji studies totally took the back seat. Yet at the same time, all of the grammar being taught in the class I had already learned from entertainment and books. It was confusing. I could not tell if I was a little more advanced or lagging than the class.

On the second day though, we were called by the teacher to be told that we were to change to the second campus (the school has four campus in Shinjuku) because we intend to do JLPT, and not to study other subjects in order to be admitted into a university. So much changes in just three days! But thank goodness the second campus is only two-minutes away, if you knew to go through the shortcut.

When I reached the class, I was told that the seat I was occupying belonged to someone else. This was a surprise to me as it seems childish, but apparently, there would be a few things that I was never made to do since I left school that I now am made to do.

1. In some classes, your seat is set for you. 

2. You are to write in pencil, not pen.

3. When you need to excuse yourself to go to the restroom, you need to seek permission from the teacher.

I’m pretty sure there are others, which I cannot think of at the moment, but alas, I suppose I forgot that although I have worked previously, I am now back to being a student, and that too, just a college student, not a university student.

But now I am glad that I did get to move to a different class, because the students in my class are closer to my age and they appear more mature and friendly. The same cannot be said for the option classes (not optional classes, these are merely classes where students are allocated specifically to the examinations they intend to take) though. These students did not seem to take studies seriously – endlessly talking in their own language, sleeping, snoring and playing their phones in classes. It’s hard to fathom why they are attending in the first place, when all they do is disturbing the lesson from going on smoothly. I suppose these kids are taking things for granted and they do not study Japanese for the love of it. They do not seem to know how hard it is to go out there to be useful to society and to fight your way around so you could start again doing what you love. Oh well. They will learn some day. I hope.

My every day consists of studying kanji for the daily tests, looking up recipes, cooking and watching drama/ anime/ tv shows. Sometimes, I also read, although now I am reduced to reading e-books as actual books in English are hard to come by. Sometimes I write, like right now. During the weekend, when we’re done with chores, I usually go out exploring nearby Tokyo with my sister and sometimes with a housemate as well. Except for Golden Week, we do not get long days in the past two months. Yet, compared to my previous life as an auditor, I feel like I have too much time on my hands. I am currently looking for a part-time job to teach English or Malay and to write. Unlike the more common part-time jobs that students do such as cleaning, working at the convenience stores and restaurants, these kinds of job is harder to secure. Wish me luck! It feels like I do need a lot of it, considering so many could write/ teach in English and not many are interested to learn Malay…

Although it might seem that there are a lot more minus points in my second experience of Japan (I colour-coded the above to keep count) mostly due to our bad luck of getting delayed because of the passports, I have to say I am living my life like I never did before. I am finally doing what I love. It’s such an amazing feeling, to have the chance to do that everyday.

This blog will be recording my journey, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. It will capture my life in Japan. From the point of view of this petite introverted Muslim Malaysian woman, who has some unique background and history. So the future Izzati could come back should she forget what she had learned in Japan. 😉



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