IN CONJUNCTION with the 30th anniversary of Japan-Brunei Friendship, the Brunei Association of Japan Alumni (BAJA) has prepared the following write-ups to share some of the experiences of some Bruneians and Japanese who have studied or worked in each other’s countries.
Dr Fadil Galawat
Vice President of BAJA
Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Scholar
Kyushu University, 2006-2012
Uniting Bruneian students who used to study in Japan and promoting cultural exchanges between Japan and Brunei Darussalam are just some of the main objectives of the BAJA, which was founded in 1986.
Japan’s role in the Sultanate is important not only for economic development but also in the field of education.
Every year Japan sponsors scholarships for Bruneians to study in Japan for undergraduate and post-graduate programmes. Some of the former scholars are now holding key positions in the government and private sector.
I spent six years (2006-2012) at Kyushu University as a Japanese Government scholarship holder.
As a former student in Japan, I now realise that Japan has given me so many great lessons and experiences such as the invaluable friendships made throughout the years. All these have had a profound impact on my life. I have learnt the value of hard work and why it is important not to give up easily in life.
I now converse in Japanese with great confidence and have made a number of life-long friends over the years. With the qualification gained whilst I was in Japan, I’m confident that it will continue to hold me in good stead for my future.
I am confident that Brunei and Japan will continue to further deepen their bilateral ties in various fields including politics, economy, culture, arts, academic and tourism.
I hope to see more Bruneians pursuing their studies in Japan in future.
*Dr Fadil is a Wealth Manager at GoodLife Financial Planning Sdn Bhd, Brunei. He specialises in Wealth and Risk Management for individuals and corporate clients
PICKING UP THE LANGUAGE IS IMPORTANT
Noraini H S
Scholarship 1987 to 1990
“Why did you choose to further your studies in Japan? Wouldn’t language be a huge barrier?”
These were some of the questions I would be asked back then.
I left Brunei in October 1987 to further my studies in Japan with no knowledge of the Japanese language.
Before starting my two-year course on Graphic Design at Toyo Institute of Art and Design, I had to undergo an intensive six-month Japanese language course, which included assessment tests mostly every other week.
I made a lot of new friends from all around the world; some of them from countries not known to me before. After completing the language course, I was able to communicate with my friends there in Japanese.
Interestingly, some students there thought I was a mixed Japanese. (Perhaps it was my fair complexion?) I told them that I was from Brunei. (Some of them did not know where Brunei was located.)
Having spent two-and-a-half years in Japan, I can reassure you that it was indeed a rewarding experience. Besides making great friends along the way, I fully embraced the Japanese way of life and culture. I wished I could have stayed in Japan longer.
My advice to anyone thinking of studying in Japan is to just do it. The country is an ideal place to study, especially for people who are open to learning about their culture and conversing in Japanese.
BRUNEI LEAVES LASTING IMPRESSION
Brunei Darussalam was my first visit to a foreign country. As I was not well versed in the English language, I was unsure if the people of Brunei would understand me. But the people here were so kind and understanding that they helped me build up self-confidence in speaking up.
Before studying abroad, I was a little hesitant to communicate with foreigners. But now I’m willing to communicate with them. I am determined to learn more about various cultures from even more foreigners. I hope I will be given an opportunity to sign up for a similar exchange programme in future.
I would like to express my gratitude to the students of Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), Dr Faye, my host family and other teachers who I met whilst in the Sultanate. Thank you so much, Brunei!
EMBRACING CONCEPT OF ‘SHUSHOKU KATSUDOU’
Abdul Rahman Hamit
I have lived in Japan for over 10 years. In that time, I have acquired the ability to speak Japanese almost fluently, read and write on a business level and got to understand what makes Japan a truly unique and astounding country. I will focus on the first few years of my experience there for this article.
I arrived in Japan without any knowledge of Japanese. It was a rainy spring day then, the air was cold, and I was driven to my dormitory residence where I spent a year with fellow students from around the world. The international environment helped ease some pain into adapting to life there. Very interestingly, besides English, our main form of communication with each other was Japanese.
My first year was in a language school located near the business heart of Tokyo. There, I studied Japanese from a beginner level to intermediate level by the time I graduated from the language school. Some students who already studied or knew Japanese started in intermediate or advance levels. When I graduated, I felt confident that I could tackle the next two years in college studying a course, which was entirely in Japanese.
Gosh! Was I wrong! I was enrolled into a Technical College in Tokyo, studying Computer Networking, on a two-year course.
Technical colleges provide shorter courses with more emphasis on practical training and studies.
While I had taught myself some computer networking before coming to Japan, the language in between the English words that I am used to did not comprehend well in the first few months. As I got to know my Japanese classmates well enough after a few months, they gave me one of the best lessons I could ever have in Japan at the time – how to speak casual Japanese.
Over time, the interactions grew into tremendous fun as I taught them English and they taught me Japanese in return. An added bonus was that my lecturers also helped coach me to speak a more polite form of Japanese, after learning that I had picked up the casual grammar and intonations of my fellow classmates.
My experience in the second year of living in Japan proved to be a good progression as when I entered my second year in college, I was introduced to what is know as ‘shushoku katsudou’ roughly translated as ‘looking for work’.
I learnt that it was a common practice for final year students, in university and colleges, even high school in some places, to go and look for work anywhere from three to 10 months before they graduate. The job listing from various companies can be found in specially set up ‘Job Hunt’ departments. This was where polite Japanese language was really required, as I was looking for a job in Japan. A lot involved company introductions, paper test and interviews.
This practice surprised me further when I learnt that the final year students would eventually have a few choices when they graduate – either they further their studies or find a job, or they up being “undecided”. Since they already know beforehand how things will eventually unfold, it is just a matter of speeding up the process, saving time and making it easier to plan the process of hiring.
There is still a lot of experiences in my first three years in Japan that I can write about, but for now, the concept of ‘shushoku katsudou’ is something I would like to highlight for now.
A lot of our graduates here will graduate with enthusiasm and energy but for many it will be sapped away whilst they seek work. It may be months or even years for some.
I believe it’s high time to come up with a system like what I experienced whilst in Japan.
This would not only save time and energy for the graduates, but also help many companies and institutions to easily plan and save time for hiring new graduates.