Shukulu sent us an essay about her stay in Japan. We guess she couldn't write everything she has experienced in Japan, but she wrote about what she has experienced, who she has met, and where she has visited during ten months as much as she can. There were some challenges for her such as the coldness of winter, but she learnt so much about not only Japan but also other countries.
I came to Japan last year at the end of September. I studied and stayed in Japan for ten months. I was an exchange student at Tokyo University for Foreign Studies. My life in Japan is divided into two parts. Mostly I spent my time studying, I was taking courses of international relational and area studies and Japanese language. During weekends, holidays and free time, I did different things related to social life. Below are some of the things that described how my life in Japan was.
For the first time in my life, I learned Japanese which is very different from my mother tongue in term of the structure of the sentences and letters. But the most thing I liked about the Japanese language is how it is full of harmonious spirit and respect. The time I spent studying Japanese it was a good time for me to learn more about Japanese culture, especially the norms and values of Japanese society. Even though studying Japanese was quite difficult for me, and it required to spend extra time studying it privately, but I enjoyed it, and it helped me to get a lot of new vocabularies with a short period of the time.
Due to coming to Japan, I got the opportunity of learning the history of Japan especially during World War II and post-war reconstruction of the country. Something that surprised me is how Japan developed economically at a high level. This helped the country to recover from the destruction of the war. The success story of Japanese economic development could be a good lesson for all countries that are still struggling with war recovery.
History of Southern East Asia, before I came to Japan, I knew little about the history of southeast Asia. But after attending different classes, I learned a lot about it. For example, before I attended the class on peacebuilding in theories and practice, I did not know the conflict in Philippine in a place called Mindanao, and how Japan supported in solving the conflicts. I like the approach of Japan used in Mindanao for helping people to solve the country's problem but, at the same time, helping them to develop economically.
Also, it was a great experience for me to visit different shrines in Japan and know about Japanese religion Shintoism. I went to different shrines such as Yasukuni Shrine, Asakusa and many others. But mostly I liked Kurayami festival as part of religious practice. I liked the whole idea of Kurayami. I enjoyed different performances during the festival. Even though I belonged in different religion, I appreciate the different practices of Japanese religion and I learned a lot from it.
Not only Shintoism, but I was also blessed to visit different temples around Japan and it was a good time for me to learn more about other religion. I remember in my higher school, I learned about Buddhism but I could not understand the practice of this particular religious group. But, after got to Japan and visit different temples, I got to understand different practices of the religion that I learned many years ago in my higher school. One of the popular temples that I visited is the golden temple in Kyoto.
Apart from studying in the class, I spent some of my time doing an internship in a nongovernment organization called Munakata Foundation. In this grant organization, I learned a lot about NGOs such as how to run the organization, founding process, how the organizations are getting donations and the means they are using to make them well known. This was a good time for me to learn practical things rather than theories.
Still talking about my stay in Japan, I was blessed to get time to visit different places in Japan. Not only different places in Tokyo but also outside of Tokyo. I went to places like Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Okinawa, Hiroshima and other areas that are surrounding Tokyo. For example, I went to the peace museum in Hiroshima to learn about the Atomic bomb. I was shocked to see how people suffered from the Atomic Bomb. I met one surviver of Nuclear Atomic Bomb, and he shared with me his testimony during the period they dropped the Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima. I learned a lot within a very short period. Before I came to Japan, I did not know much about the Atomic Bomb in Japan.
Another thing that I enjoyed a lot during my stay in Japan was spending time with different groups of people. Such as the group of old women from Tachikawa called Connecting Children from African and Japan. From this group, I was surprised by how these people are active even though they are old, and they are eager to try new things like learning a new language like English. As a young person, I realized that it is possible to learn something new even though someone is his or her seventies or above. This encouraged me to be always active and not to consider age as an obstacle to getting to your goals in life.
In addition to all the above is that I enjoyed cultural exchange with Japanese students as well as international students, and having friends from different countries. This was very good for me because there are stereotypes that I had before meeting new people from other countries that changed through interacting with different people from different places. I realized how good diversity is because I got the new insight into different things from different places of the world from people whom I was talking to. This helped me to open my mind and see how we are interconnected despite the different backgrounds, cultural or nationalities.
Despite the challenges that I met a new person in the place. Like the challenge of winter because it was very cold for me. And it was my first time to experience winter. But my Stay in Japan was full of more interesting things and I benefited a lot from it in different aspects such as academic and social. Things I learned in Japan are the ones of the precious gift that I have ever had in my life. I would like to thank anyone who contributed anything so that I could be able to come and stay in Japan for ten months. I will always remember the good opportunity gave me in my life.
We'd like to thank supporters who donated for Shukulu and Rodrigue, those who invited them to various kinds of activities, students who helped their lives in Japan, and also Prof. Sasaki who chose and sent the great students to Japan.