It’s been two years (!) since my last Japan life related post, so there’s a lot that’s happened along the way. Writing them all in detail will be way too long, so here’s a short summary of how my life is now and lessons I gained along the way!
First off, I’m still in Japan! It’s my third year here now, so I’ve finished the one-year Japanese language school plus the two-year specialized training school. I held part time jobs in 3 different places (not at the same time though!) throughout that, and for my last part time job place, I ended up working for them full time. I officially became a 社会人 (full-time working person) April this year, and this month I started part-time classes at Temple University Japan on article writing.
Which brings me to why I restarted this blog! I decided to pick it up again so I can dust off the cobwebs from that corner of my brain that used to write often.
As for my current state of things, language-wise, from being barely JLPT N5 level when I first came to Japan, I have officially passed the JLPT N2 two years ago. That’s on paper, however my actual language skills are all over the place. Listening would be JLPT N2-N1, speaking would be N3, which is to say my speaking skills are abysmal even after 3 years here. But I get by. And I’m practicing what I can, so hopefully it’ll get there.
The one-year language school was my peak slacking-off-just-enjoying-Japan period. Classes ended early, I didn’t have a part-time job til late in, I made friends, we were new to Japan so we hung out and experienced everything that was new to us. So for this period as advice to future kouhais: live your new Japan life during this period when you can! But not too much, this is also the period when you’re setting the groundwork for your Japanese skills. Only reason my speaking skills are abysmal is because I never did real-time practice for this (talked to all friends in English this year).
In between my first and second year, I did food service part-time jobs, which to keep it brief, I absolutely hated. I have been yelled at, (one time an old Japanese man was racist to me as well since I was a foreign worker), underpaid, stressed and depressed. My first part-time job at a fast food place was very very toxic, so I moved to a cafe part time job, which wasn’t as bad, but it still wasn’t worth it. If this period taught me anything, I’d say it was like a sudden splash of cold water to your face that life in Japan and interactions with Japanese people wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Just cause it’s Japan doesn’t mean people will be nice to you all the time. But! It also taught me resilience. I survived that, and I made it out to the other side.
The two-year specialized training school was rough, if I’d describe it in one word. You don’t feel ready once you’re thrown in there, and the environment is very different from language school. And it wasn’t just me–senpais and kouhais and same-year friends I’ve talked to seem to have this in common with me. It’s mostly Japanese students fresh off high school, so it was hard to pierce through that bubble surrounding them when you’re known as the foreign student. I can’t say I made legit Japanese friends, but I do have a friend who was also a foreign student who I still keep in touch with. Although I’m grateful for having learned practical skills related to photography, and use them to take my own photos, I felt like I was just going through the motions, and school-wise, this experience was meh, honestly speaking.
But also during this period since my school life was lackluster, I made up for it by spreading my wings outside of that realm, and I finally got to enjoy a lot of things that made me realize why I love being in Japan. Being out of the language school dorm with curfew also had its perks! I got to experience so many things–concerts, music festivals, nature trips, pride parades, random meetings, discovering new places–none of which I think I could have fully enjoyed if I was back home. If my first year was slacking off in my small bubble, then this period was spreading out and discovering of the beauty of life, and everything it had to offer. Beyond the anime or pop culture, beyond the language, being in Japan during this period made me experience the beauty and thrills of life.
I just only recently started working full-time so I can’t fully comment on the state of things yet with just two months behind me. I think the biggest change from the first three years was my realization of just how much time I had back then. In the specialized training school, I had school days that ended at 12:00pm, and how I wish my days ended at 12pm again! You don’t realize how precious free time is until you have none of it, but at the same time, with my days ending at 7pm now and only having the weekends for me time, it makes me value my time more. Although maybe I’d seem like I’m juggling too many things at once (Temple part-time classes, plans to enter a video competition, self-business plans, and more–just way way too many up in there!), no matter how unpleasant or stressful work is, I can look forward to doing one of my little side projects and I can feel better again.
Anyway, these are the things I’ve learned through my life in Japan so far. They might be too personal to serve as any real lessons to anyone, but I’ve fulfilled my end of updating after forever, so I’m good!
Now enjoy photos I took showing the most significant experiences that make up my life here in Japan. All photos by me (including header photo)!