08 Juni 2014

Two Years in Japan

Today, I put a signature to disburse the last funding of my scholarship during this two years period of my master's study. Looking backward for many experiences I had, I am really grateful for this opportunity to live and study in Japan. It started when I was yearning to return to school desk and I wanted a different experience and challenge by doing that abroad. Thankfully, after failed several time, I got a scholarship to Japan.
Japan is actually not the country which I want to go in the beginning. Since undergrad, my imagination is fulfilled with European countries. Even I tried several attempts to go there through blogging competition. To me I had never imagined that I will step on the Land of Rising Sun.

But gradually I feel that Japan is the best place for me, at this stage, that God has given the opportunity to live in. For a type of person like me, the country's environment made me able to adapt smoothly to International atmosphere, not only to Japanese culture. I stayed in dormitory and study in the university whose number of foreign student quite a lot. It gave me an opportunity to know a person from different countries through interaction with them. Not from a stereotype or media judgement. That gave me an idea that we have to go out to know the world, to make our mind open instead of believing to doubtful news that may had exaggerated. In the other words: do traveling!

By meeting new friends from different places, it also increased my self esteem in socializing with foreigners. I got my English improved as well. I admit, even though I got enough score in TOEFL for applying scholarship, for direct communication I was terrible. That's one of good point staying in country whose main language is not English. In one side you feel so confident with your English, because many local people couldn't speak English well. In the other hand you can still learn to improve your English from native-speaker's friend or academic events.

The high standard of service in Japan also ease me to deal with both academic matter or daily life matter. I could say that even you cannot speak Japanese or speak only little English, you can survive here. I could buy my suit with my inadequate Japanese skill served by non-English speaker shopkeeper. My mom even bought something from kombini and she spoke Indonesian+body language to the shopkeeper!

In academic, I have finally obtain my Master's degree here. I truly have good experience in this process. Maybe some have realized that postgraduate system in Japan emphasize on research instead of course work. At some point I felt inferior compared to other friends whose university taught them broader subject for Master's and they know lot of things (in Geotechnical/Civil Engineering), but then I realize I have become someone who know something from nothing from my lab work. I further realize that accomplishing my Master's doesn't mean that I have to be pleased with my achievement (I shouldn't). Instead, it should make me more hungry for knowledge and humble for what I have got.


Back to the intention why I write this article, I want to remind myself that we have to be grateful in all situation we face. Of course I also had some bad experiences in Japan. And I couldn't fulfill some of the goal (actually, I believe they are just postponed) I set in the beginning of my journey there. But still those experiences, good and bad were valuable for us. As a U.S. Navy Admiral, William McRaven said in his speech to University of Texas student*):
"If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward."

I also want to quote some analogy from Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers:
“The tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling, and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured. We all know that successful people come from hardy seeds. But do we know enough about the sunlight that warmed them, the soil in which they put down the roots, and the rabbits and lumberjacks they were lucky enough to avoid? This is not a book about tall trees. It’s a book about forests…”
My friend said that his friend told him,"Choosing Japan as your first country to staying abroad is a wrong choice. From there you will see other country is more dirty and people are more rude." Practically it is true, even I felt that when visiting Japan's neighbor. But I hope my experience staying in Japan made me want to convey a vision to achieve good society as I experienced in Japan.

Thanks to everyone I know in Japan, you are a part of my history. I hope we can meet again.

In front of my dormitory, before leaving :(


Okiotsukete itterashaimase





*) Actually I start this draft in the end of March and just finished this article today, in Ho Chi Minh City. Last night I read an article about his speech ;)