Wang-san stayed here in Fukuoka for a year with her working holiday visa. She studied at WAHAHA for 3months when she first came to Fukuoka, and found part time job.
She wrote about her life here in Fukuoka and about our school in Japanese and Taiwanese and sent it to us. She gave us permission to use her feedback for people who is considering about working holiday visa and let them know about how people should prepare and work here in Japan. So finally, we finished translate her feedback to English!
(You can read her feedback with pictures at here : http://goo.gl/aqNao
Marina Wang – Taiwan 2010/5~2011/5
I learned about WAHAHA through Internet after I got my first working visa. I had been to Tokyo and Osaka before and know that the prices are pretty high in big cities, so I decided to go to Fukuoka. Fukuoka is the biggest city in Kyushu, but compare to other big cities, prices are more reasonable and the life style seems to be laid back. So I started contacting WAHAHA. The staffs were really kind and patient in answering all my questions. So I finally made up my mind to go to Fukuoka and study at WAHAHA.
Luckily, I made friends with people from various countries. We couldn’t speak each others’ languages, so we had to communicate in a third language – Japanese. WAHAHA teaches classes with small numbers of students and we had to take a test to see what level we were at on the first day of school. I was assigned to a class with a student from Germany. Because Taiwanese already know Kanji (Chinese character), I felt like I was wasting my time during those classes. After expressing my distress to the staffs and teachers, the teachers actually changed the lesson method by letting me explaining words (kanji) to the German students. I found out that even though I knew the words, I didn’t really know how to explain them well. Compare to me, the German student had better speaking abilities and could express his thoughts into Japanese better than me. So we learn though each other’s strong and weak points and with teachers’ dedication, we started to improve. After a month of adjusting my life here, my studies started to sail on smoothly. School also arranged some optional Japanese traditional culture lessons, e.g. cooking classes, tea ceremony classes, flower arrangement class. I chose to join the Kimono (Japanese dress) experience. It was a rare experience for me to wear the traditional dress. It was different from “yukata” (the traditional dress Japanese people wear in summer.) After the experience, I actually bought a yukata and wear it to a firework festival with my friends. In Fall, the school also brought us to watch a Sumo match. There are different activities every season and every activity that I joined gave me wonderful, and unforgettable experience.
Before I came to Japan, I had passed the 2nd grade Japanese Proficiency Test, but because I hadn’t had chances to continue my studies nor use it much, I spent some time in the beginning reviewing 3rd grade level contents. I understood a lot of the grammar points, but I couldn’t really put them into use. I believe a lot of Taiwanese students are like that. After three months of group lessons, I felt like my speaking ability has improved. But I still want to improve my Japanese further, so I decided to change my curriculum to once-a-week-one-on-one lessons. Unlike the group lessons, I could change the lesson time according to my personal schedule and the lesson contents were adjusted to match my personal needs. So, I asked my teacher to add contents to help me improve my grammar and to get me ready for my JLPT N1 test at the end of the year. N1, unlike the old style where you just have to memorize the grammar points, asks examinees to put the grammar points into real usage. Knowing that, the school helped us to understand and put those grammar points into real life conversation. So after some practice, I found myself using them naturally in conversations with my Japanese friends. I also watched some TV program at night to help my Japanese. Naturally, Japanese had truly become a part of my life. As a result, I past my N1 test. I am truly grateful to my teachers’ dedication. Learning is different with each person. Different methods suit different people and results differ as well. So be patient, everyone! Preparations and reviews are necessary. Don’t think you will improve your Japanese just by being in Japan.
I was pretty lucky on finding part time jobs. I saw an ad on my way to school just three weeks after my arrival and I didn’t speak fluent Japanese, so I was nervous about my job interview. The school also helped me by giving me some advice. Even though I didn’t speak fluently, I past my interview with my sincerity and good attitude. Another way you can find a job is to go through the career centers run by the local government. The officials will help you reserve an interview time, which is a big help for people who aren’t fluent. You will have to use Japanese when you work, so that will help you improve your listening and speaking abilities. But keep in mind that you ARE getting salary from your boss, so you are not there for chatting, but to do a good job. Your performance will affect your other “working-holiday” fellows’ images. Japanese are very serious and professional about work. Manner/politeness and cooperation is very important to this society. So, there will be situations where you will be scolded when you make mistakes. It was one of the experience I could only get outside of my classes. Please try to understand Japanese’s way of thinking and doing when you come to Japan to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.
Because the prices in Fukuoka are low compare to other big cities, the hourly wage is not going to be very high. The average hourly wage ranges from 700 to 750 yen. But because of that, the house rent is relatively low. So, they kind of balance each other out. By having two part time jobs, not only I could pay my basic living expenses, I could also have a small budget for leisure. Of course, I did a lot of research before I came, so I knew some of the discounts I could get, Besides the research I did myself, I also got a lot of information from the school staffs and there are bookstores where I could just stand there and read about the railway, bus and walking information. You can also join the bus tour. The Shinkansen (bullet trains) is also convenient. Going from the South to North of Japan takes pretty much the same time from Taipei to Kaohsiung. If you have the money, you can use it to go to many famous places in Kyushu.
Many people might think they can live free if they come to Japan, but let me tell you that there is a reality people will have to face when they come. For example, unable to fit into the culture; can’t find a job due to language problems; discrimination/isolation. They all really depend on your ability to adjust and/or simply luck sometimes. However, city choice might be another factor. One advice to people with work visa: before you start taking actions, plan thoroughly because if you don’t, you will just end up wasting your precious time.
To sum things up. I’ve experience A LOT of things in this one year. One, working in a foreign country, which is totally different from working in Taiwan. Working and studying took most of my time, so there wasn’t really much time left for leisure. But somehow I managed to find some time for small trips. I was busy, but I made lots of friends. Second, living in a dorm. It wasn’t new, but it was comfortable and I made friends with people from other countries. Third, studying at WAHAHA, which was the most important to me. I’ve gained a lot of priceless experiences. The school doesn’t teach without a clear goal or aim. So, if you have the passion to learn and experience Japan, come to this big family and learn with other students from the world.