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How I got to study, work and live in Japan

21 Sep 18:00 by Chanyse L.


“Someday, just someday I will be studying and living in Japan” said a little girl living in Singapore, a small little red dot in Asia. A year has passed since I made it here and it still feels nothing but like a dream.

My name is Chanyse and I am a Singaporean that has been living in Japan since September of year 2016, was studying in a local Japanese university while doing Arubaito (part time jobs) and now interning in a Japanese company in Roppongi, one of the busiest and richest business districts of Tokyo.

It has always been my dream to live in Japan since I was a child. Back in Singapore, my parents operate a business that deals with Japanese products. Since young, I followed them on numerous business trips to Japan and has always felt this sense of familiarity and closeness to Japan as a country. “Just one day, I am going to master this language! “, this was something that was always at the back of my mind but I never got the time or determination to enroll in any Japanese classes.

Who reaches their dreams just by thinking about it? After I completed my university studies, I decided to quit dreaming and start working on something that I have always held so close to my heart. To be able to fulfill this dream, it was not as simple as just buying an airplane ticket, getting a visa and asking for pocket money. It came with lots of planning, uncertainties, endurance and waiting.

I remembered calling up the Japanese embassy where they did not seem particularly interested in helping graduates, especially when you are not able to speak the language. I started searching for alternatives on the internet and narrowed down to a Japanese Language Program option; where you study half or a year in a local university for example, Keio, Waseda, Rikkio University that offers the program.

Next came paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork! What’s more you have to apply to multiple universities to increase your chances of acceptance which burnt holes in my pocket! To get ready for the applications, I enrolled myself in a Japanese language school’s holiday intensive program and completed 150 hours of learning, attached my certificates and have them sent over with my other documents (this was a basic requirement in most of the application form) to raise my chances.

My successful application brought me to Keio University in Fall 2016. It felt so surreal walking in the campuses everyday, living in the school’s dormitory and meeting friends from all over the world in my program. To prepare myself for the best experience in Japan, I laid out plans that stretched over 1 and half year (exactly how long a student visa lasts).

I set goals to master the language in the span of one year, get an Arubaito after half a year, secure an internship by the second semester of studies. In the midst of achieving these goals, my past one year has been the most enriching time of my life. Apart from classes in Keio University, I took extra Japanese classes, participate actively in cultural events in international exchange lounges, more self studying on the internet, practiced speaking in real life situations during my Arubaito as a waitress and over language exchange apps.

Fast forward to today, I speak an N2 level of Japanese. I would not say I have mastered the language completely but at least attained a stage where I can successfully eavesdrop on interesting conversations around me in a cafe, reply people’s questions adequately, have no problems reading signboards on the streets and even having the courage to take up the challenge of making corporate calls in business Japanese on my job (link to first day of internship post) To all the Japanese language learners, Zenterns, or simply you that is reading this post right now, always remember, if you believe and start setting goals, you are already halfway there!