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What you don’t see on the surface

Hi guys! Recently, I’ve been quite busy with school stuff and I’ve been out of ideas to write too, but with the remaining energy and brain juice I have left, here’s a post written out of the ideas and insights I have gained from being more involved in school life.

What I’ll be writing today will probably be a teeeeeny bit sensitive, so please bear in mind that I have asked for consent from my Japanese friends to write these thoughts out in a public post. If you feel that this is offensive (if you’re a Japanese), then please tell me personally so I can correct myself or take this down 😊

Before coming to Japan to study, I’ve always had this impression on how they’re so kind and hardworking, and I’m very sure that all of you might be thinking the same too. It is no doubt, a good thing for them to share this mindset, unconsciously being nice to everyone not because they’re taught to, but because they have been growing up with it their whole lives. After talking to more people and listening to their stories, it might not be rainbows and unicorns like what we see on the surface all the time for them.

So lately, I’ve been involved in helping out a few of my friends in Presentation Contest 「プレコン」 (it’s a competition among students of Technical Colleges here in Japan to encourage the use of English by giving presentations) and my friend who was in-charge of his team, insisted that they stuck to the topic “Share your worries with your friends” with a strong urge to push out the message out to other Japanese students out there. (our teacher was initially against the idea because it isn’t an easy flowing topic) At first, when I had come to know of the topic, I was quite shocked tbh. To me, it’s normal to just rant to my friends and family about my day, or about whatever annoyed me (while sounding like a total bish) or just literally about anything in the world when things don’t go my way. But on the other hand, from their point of view (when I asked them about it), they said that it’s not normal to share their worries to their friends because it makes them look like they can’t handle things like these on their own, and that it would make them look like they’re flimsy and not ‘manly’ enough. This doesn’t represent the whole community though, because they were only a group of 3 (+another 5 or more friends I’ve asked), but this is what I’ve learnt from asking them personally.

I’ve also been involved in a project in my ‘Incubation Work’ group for the past month (to keep myself busy). ‘Incubation Work’ is one of the compulsory subjects in my school where we get to pick whatever theme we’re interested in, and create and execute projects to achieve a certain goal. I’m in the ‘Science Supporter’ group, where we aim to encourage kids to gain interest in science at a young age by opening up booths at festivals etc. Our working space was in the teacher’s research (lab?)/room. (ps: Technical colleges in Japan aren’t like typical schools, it’s a school where most of the teachers are PhD holders and their main job is to do their personal research, while they teach us on the sidelines. When the students here are in their 4th/5th year, they can join in with research, or, if they choose to, they can do their own personal research with the guidance of a teacher from the department) And so, I’ve been squeezing every single bit of my personal time to come here to work on the project. (we hacked a toy Tamiya forklift with an Arduino and some sensors)

<<<<<<<<
was super off topic but let me get back to it now)) I got to know and make friends with almost all the students in the research lab and while spending my time here, there happened to be a conflict among the students of the research lab. As of human nature, it is hard to confront the people we’re having a conflict with, and we’d tend to ask other people for advice. And so, I was sort of the wallpaper in the background throughout the whole thing. Talking to one of my friends from the research lab, he told me that, we, as foreigners/non-Japanese people, usually see them all as nice and kind people no matter the situation. That is definitely a good trait they all may have. But then, he told me that it sometimes isn’t a good thing as well, because it turns into a stigma where they’re obliged to be nice, and thus lose the courage/ability to act otherwise. Well, telling people off is sometimes not a bad thing as well, if you use the right words and say the right things. When I asked him, “So how do Japanese people usually resolve their problems?”, he told me that they’ll either tell the person of conflict through another person (as a bridge), or just keep it in until it fades away. The last resort is to just tell the person directly, but it isn’t common to do so because of the ‘nice’ stigma. I feel that now after hearing what he said, I can understand why they don’t really express their feelings when it comes to things like conflicts and stuff, and why it puts them in a hard situation if they do as they like.

During the busy period, I’d stay up till quite late in school to finish up as much as I can. One of the rules of the research lab is that at least one research student must be in the lab if a non-research student (me) was in it. And so, they’d babysit me while I feel guilty continuing my work in the lab whenever I’m not done with my work. 😅😂 One of the nights, when I went back late at about 1 am with one of my friend, I was shocked to see a few other lit up rooms in the school blocks. As we walked past, he pointed them out and named the teachers one by one as if it’s a normal routine. (and it was a school day the next day!!) For me, it’s definitely not normal to see people working till this ungodly hour, isn’t it??? I can still recall the days working as a part-time-cashier after SPM and boy, I’d clean up as much as I could 5-10 minutes before closing time.

Yes, the working culture in Japan is different (and I’m in no place to criticize because I’d be a hypocrite if I did too –I was staying up late as well so yea) but here, it shows how serious and dedicated they are with their job/research. I only went full-speed with the project for about a month and I feel like I’ve had enough, but for them as teachers and research students, it lasts waaaay longer. It is a very compliment-able point they have to be efficient in their work but, it’s definitely unhealthy to continue this sort of lifestyle in the long run. As you all may know or have came across the term ‘over-working’, it is real and there is yet a solution to be found.

Being one of the very few international students here, I was given a mini ‘interview’ on my scholarship by one of the teachers here. With that opportunity, I managed to casually ask him to elaborate a bit on the working situation here in Japan. (he’s one of the teachers who disagrees with the over-time policy btw) He told me how the system works and why they do it. Again, this point of view is based on one person only, so please take note that it doesn’t represent the whole community. He said that as for teachers, they’d prefer to work waaay after hours because ① they are able to fully concentrate on their work as students won’t be coming to their room to ask questions/ go for meetings etc, ② they have too much to work on that they’re forced to stay back so that they can meet the deadline. Also, I asked if they’re paid accordingly. Yes, and no.

He drew this out for me:

and told me that it’s a problem that has been going on ever since and it’s almost impossible to solve this problem even by the government. The last section in red (in the makeshift timeline I’ve drawn up there) is called Zan-gyou service「残業サービス」, literally means leftover work service. This term makes it sound like it’s an obligatory thing to do due to your lack of efficiency, and therefore, you serve your company by taking away some of the the deserved pay you rightfully earned. From what I’ve learnt from the teacher, he said that in legal terms, overtime pay in Japan has to be at least 25% more than the original pay. Logically, it would be cost saving and the net profit would be raised if companies paid less to their employees. What more to say, when the employees themselves offer to be paid less? There’s nothing to lose.

These are the few things that have caught my attention and has been lingering in my mind for the past few weeks. If you made it till here, thanks so much for reading and I hope you found it interesting!

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Malaysia Day 2017

Wait, I don’t understand! Your father and mother are both Chinese. You’re 100 percent Chinese but you’re Malaysian?”

Happy Malaysia Day everyone! 🇲🇾🇲🇾🇲🇾

Being involved in many international activities here, it’s always fun to meet new people and foster new friendships along the way. And so, I always get the chance to introduce Malaysian culture to the people I meet. At times, it’s almost as if we (Malaysian students studying in Japan) are the duta kecil Malaysia (mini ambassadors of Malaysia). I’d always start off by asking them, do you know where Malaysia is? About half of them would say yes, and to the ones who said no, I’d pull out my trusty phone and point out the cute さつまいも🍠(sweet potato) shaped cape hanging off Thailand, right above Singapore, Peninsular Malaysia, and the dog-headed shaped island next to it, Borneo, point out that Malaysia is part of the half of that giant island, and then tell them where our neighbouring countries are situated at. 

Yup I hope you get the rough idea

I’ll then tell them that we’re made up of many races and everyone speaks many languages(that’s usually the hard part because it confuses people) and sometimes it’ll lead to conversations seperti dirujukkan tadi (as referenced above). 

It’s fun to explain all these to people, and in exchange, learn about their culture in return. When I first came to Japan to study, I’d always thought that I was going to be totally immersed in the Japanese culture, because I thought that every single new friendship formed would be limited to my schoolmates and the international students in the college. How shallow I was. Instead, being given all these chances, putting aside all the challenges I’ve faced so far, my whole studying-abroad experience has been enhanced  with so much more than I had expected! 

Back to the topic, what is Malaysia Day?

  “Malaysia Day is held on 16 September every year to commemorate the establishment of the Malaysian federation on the same date in 1963. It marked the joining together of Malaya, North Borneo, Singapore and Sarawak to form Malaysia.

 The formation of Malaysia was made possible with the signing of the International Treaty the Malaysia Agreement 1963 between the United Kingdom, the Federation of Malaya (constituted by 11 states created under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957 ; as one component); Sarawak, North Borneo (renamed Sabah) and Singapore of the remaining component States.”

^ copied and pasted from Wikipedia 

As you have read, or as you have already known (if you’re Malaysian), this holiday is an important one to us Sarawakians and Sabahans 🙂 No, I’m not going to comment on stuff like those lengthy popcorn-worthy Twitter replies/Facebook comments where people criticize each other for being unappreciative/making them feel left out. Nope, I’m not into that kinda shit because I have friends from all parts of Malaysia and I vouch for them. No doubt that it’s human nature to be defensive but the small percentage of “keyboard warriors” who starts up those pointless fights doesn’t represent the whole Malaysian community. 

This holiday is important to me because why not, it adds up as another holiday to the long list of holidays we have in total! 

Just look at how rich we are with public holidays!!

Okay lah it’s not entirely all about holidays (I just wanted to brag about our public holidays) but, for it being a special day, it was the day that commemorated the start of Sarawak being a part of Malaysia, and naturally, it made me Malaysian! 

I’m a proud of the rich culture we have, the friendly Malaysian spirit everyone has in their hearts, of the variety of food we have, of the convenient 24-hour food stalls at every corner (mostly in West Malaysia), that we speak many languages (inclusive of bahasa rojak – a very Malaysian language of mixing all the different languages together), that the almost near to free medical treatment at government clinics, of having the privilege to borrow books from the school (instead of buying them like most people do here), to be offered this scholarship, and last but not least, proud to be a Malaysian. (so patriotic ah)

Personally, I feel that studying abroad really made me understand and appreciate my culture more, even though I’m not physically in Malaysia. I really miss the cincai-anything-also-can-lah (simple?) culture we all have because I cannot just cincai my way through everything here. Things here are more detailed in general, and I think it’s something we should learn from them in return. As compared to Japan, we have a cheap cost of living and I think we should be proud of it! My friend, Yusuke, who had just returned from a 2-week-long trip to Malaysia with a bunch of students from different National Colleges in Japan, mentioned to me that he was really surprised with the prices of canned drinks from the vending machines in Malaysia that he’d be glad to move the Malaysian vending machines to Japan 😂 An average can of canned/bottled drink here is about 130Â¥ (RM5.20) while in Malaysia it only costs at most about 50Â¥ (RM2.00), and if you’re lucky, you can even find vending machines that sell canned drinks for 25Â¥ (RM1.00)! My Japanese tutor (one of my classmates appointed to assist me throughout my first 2 years in school) told me a few days ago that she watched a tv program on Japanese expats living in Malaysia (most probably in Subang Jaya), and was shocked to see how beautiful the condominiums were in Malaysia with an affordable price. She said that she’d voluntarily live there one day!

 Reminiscing those camp days (a compulsory 5-day-long camp for all national scholars to boost our patriotism level before studying abroad) before everyone from KTJ (Kumpulan Teknikal Jepun) came to Japan, I remember how the issue of naming the term ‘Malaysian Chinese’ or ‘Chinese Malaysian’ was brought up to us. I can distinct the differences between them both but after being here for 5 months, I can say that it’s only a small issue and I don’t think it was worth it to bury our heads into it. Now to think of it, it’s considered a small issue to the real problems we have in the present. It’s natural for me to say that I was shocked to read about the recent hiccups during the Sea Games 2017 and the hooliganism in Osaka that happened during my stay in Japan, but it doesn’t define us all as such. 

Instead, I feel that we should focus on the positive side of our country as nothing will happen if only the negative stuff is given attention, right? Malaysia has so much to offer and so much potential to grow in many aspects, and I hope to be part of that growth after I finish my studies here in Japan!
Here’s an extra bonus for this post: ✨✨✨

In conjunction with Malaysia Day, I sort of ‘interviewed’ Yusuke through LINE, to get an idea on how he views Malaysia from his perspective. (because I was curious as well) He went to Penang, Malaysia for a good 2 weeks for a summer school educational trip.

1. 行く前と行った後、マレーシアに対しての印象は何?What was your impression of Malaysia, before and after the trip?

Before: 食べ物があまり美味しくないと思ってた。I thought that the food wasn’t going to be delicious.

After:すごく美味しい。とくに福建麺が美味しい😋 Found out that it was really delicious instead. Especially Hokkien Mee 🙂

2. 二週間の留学に1番いい思い出すは何?What’s the most memorable event you’ve had during your 2 week-long trip to Malaysia?

Chung Ling High School の学生と楽器を引いたこと。二胡が好きで前から弾きたいなぁと思ってたから弾けてよかった。Having the chance to join the Chung Ling High School band (as one of the activities). I’ve always wanted to try playing the Er Hu and I finally had the chance to!

3. この留学によって、マレーシアのいい所とあまり良くない所をちょっと説明してください。What’s the pros and cons of Malaysia based on your trip?

Pros:いい所は物価が安い。タクシーも安い。The cheap cost of living. Even taxis there are cheap. ((the price of taxis in Japan are notoriously expensive btw))

Cons:悪いところは電車がない。(タクシーは電話で呼ぶしかなかったけど、電話持ってなかったから先生にお願いするしかなかった。) There are no trains around. ((public transport isn’t as convenient)) (We called taxis with phones but as I didn’t have a local number, I had to keep borrowing the teacher’s phone to do so.)

*(( )) are editorial marks by me

Happy Malaysia Day to all Malaysians out there!!!! 🇲🇾🇲🇾🇲🇾🇲🇾🇲🇾


Thank you for reading my dedicated post if you got till here! Please leave comments and let me know on what I should improve on 😊

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The In Between


Have you ever felt like you don’t fit in when you’re in a whole new group of strangers even though things are going well? Sounds contradicting.

I’m still struggling to write out my personal thoughts here because I don’t want it to sound like an offensive post. If you feel like it’s sounding too petty or wtv, you can just stop reading and skip to my happier stuff 🙂 

Attended a camp/forum a few weeks ago and not only the content got me thinking but the diversity of the participants too, inspired me to write out on it. I’ll probably focus more on the content in another post (if I feel like writing it) because I feel that it’s better to separate them both. 

So, the international participants of this forum was basically divided into 3 groups, Japanese High School Students, International High School students and last but not least 県内留学生International students (I was in this category). Everyone in the last group were basically university students either studying the language or doing their Masters/Phd in a local university. On the other hand, the other 2 categories were made up of teenagers from all over the world with an age range of 14-17. As an international student, I was given the privilege to stay in a hotel for a few nights along with the chaperones of the students from other countries. 

As some of you might know, seniority in Japan is a huge thing whether in school or in a workplace so, when working with my group, I tried to keep a low profile on my age hoping to fit in with them hahah ((still a sehkia (it means ‘kid’ in Hokkien) at heart)) Every group was appointed 1/2 international students (as passive participants) in order to guide and facilitate the teenagers. But because of how I look, I kinda actually fit in with their category, making them assume that I was too, an active participant of the camp. Well, here, I could see how my point of view on things changed after high school life in Malaysia. I mean, my age doesn’t differ much from them too and I still have a lot to learn but, after going through a few new experiences after high school life, I can see how high school and college matures us into someone new and how important the memories during high school are to us at that period of time. 

Remember in high school we had to write those factual essays like on stuff like ‘menangani masalah sosial’ (social problems) and ‘perlukah remaja membawa telefon bimbit ke sekolah’ ?(should teenagers bring handphones to school?) ((sorry my bm’s super rusty now so it sounds funny) Yup, for 2 days straight we talked about how we should create peace in the community and abolish nuclear weapons. 

And about the part of growing out of your high school years, I don’t mean to sound like a know-it-all but, when I was in middle school, I’d see primary school kids as ah, kids. And when I was in high school, I’d see middle school kids as ah, kids. And the cycle goes on. It’s all part of growth but as I grow older, I start to see less of the magic in things and become more realistic in life. I don’t know if this is a good thing but my doubts on my own ability/capability to do things has been proportionally increasing with the experiences I’ve gained, making me more and more self conscious and at the same time much more realistic on things. I would tell myself that ideas like these wouldn’t be practical and hence shouldn’t be voiced out. Those ideas will be put away in an untouched corner of my mind and then forgotten as time passes by. When I hear certain ideas from people too, I’d judge and say things in my head but I won’t voice them out because it’ll be insensitive to do so, so I’d just let it be.

So my point is, I think we should embrace the bit of magic we still have in ourselves and be more daring(?) to say what we need to say and do what we need to do when we have the chance. 

__________________________________________________

As for this second half of the post, I’d like to express what I felt in another camp I’ve attended a few days ago.

In contrast, this camp was fully attended by Japanese people and there were only 2 international students there (inclusive of me). 

The setting was really different and it was an annual camp for everyone in that club. No doubt I had fun, but I felt like there was a constant language barrier whenever I tried to communicate with them. In Malaysia, talking in a group is always fun but it’s different when you’re in a foreign country, speaking a foreign language, not knowing of what everyone had grown up with, only understanding <75% of most daily conversations and the list goes on. I’ve been studying here for approximately 5 months and there are still times when I feel like a total sucker when it comes to conversations with local people because of my low ability to speak Japanese fluently.

When you see someone new come into your normal usual daily environment, it’s natural to want to get to know about their country, their culture etc. but after a while, it gets old and it’s time that person blends in with everyone else in daily conversation. It’s impossible for everyone to know entirely about that person’s culture but it’d be boring too to talk about the same stuff everyday too right? I hope you get what I’m trying to say here because yes, I’m stuck at that daily conversation part. 😄

Putting that aside, it was fun to play all sorts of games with my friends from the club as well, which made us closer and I’m grateful for that improvement in my relationship with friends from here. I’m glad that they included me in stuff and tried their best to explain most of the stuff I don’t understand in simple Japanese even though it was such a pain in the ass to do so. Same goes to English, if I were to be interrupted after saying a few words in a conversation to give the meaning of what I had said before, I’d be annoyed too I guess. 😅 The impatient side of me would always ask myself ‘Why am I still not good enough after living here for ____ months?? When will I ever be able to do it? When will I fit in?’ Questions like these are constantly bombarding my mind.

On a side note: I’m starting to feel comfortable talking to people here one-on-one as there are some really nice friends who’ve made my life here in Japan a colourful one. I’m grateful too, to have the constant support from my family and friends and the existence of internet because they’re always there for me as a listening ear when I feel so hopeless at times. 

It isn’t an easy task after all to intergrate into a foreign culture in just 5 months ey. 🙂

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Global Camp in Fuchuu åºœä¸­ã‚°ãƒ­ãƒãƒ«ã‚­ãƒ£ãƒ³ãƒ—

So here I am, on the 2-hour long bus journey back to my hostel in Kure after a 2D1N long camp in Fuchuu City, Hiroshima.

Honestly, I have a ton to say about my experience here but I’m not sure if I am able to put everything into words (because I’ve learnt so much from the kids and had a great time here with all the other international people) ((and also because my English vocab sucks)) so I’ll try my best to write out whatever I can 😊

Starting off with my journey to Fuchuu, I was kindly escorted by a representative from Hiroshima just so that I could get on the right bus ((as you can see, I am an amazingly easy-to-please person because I can just ‘sakai’ off everything I see)). Then, I met Ada, an AFS exchange student from Bosnia! From there we exchanged stories from our respective countries and shared our thoughts on the whole experience here in Japan.

The view from our room!



Upon reaching the camp site, we were greeted with warm welcomes by the organising committee and started right off by helping the kids. There, I got to meet Chun Yang (my friend from Malaysia who’s in the same program as me but in a different technical school), Connie, Megan, Joy, and Tony (who are teachers under the ALT program from America, Jamaica, Phillipenes, and Ireland)
It was definitely awkward for me at first, for an international student to help out local kids (it wasn’t the first time for me though, because I usually help out with my school’s 「インキュベーションワーク」Incubation Work – where we dedicate about 2 hours every week to serve the community/ create events to achieve a certain goal) but I guess it was quite different this time, as I was to be with them for 2 whole days. It’s in their (the kids) nature to be shy towards people like me but after getting to know them for a while, I can see them opening up, and they can actually be as noisy as us Malaysians 😁😁 

We started off by helping them introduce themselves in English, as they were preparing for their Skype session with a group of elementary school kids from Queensland, Australia. No doubt, they were quite nervous about it as press was even present in the room to witness the Skype session but I’m glad everything went well 🙂 

A write-up of our camp in the local newspaper

I guess that this Skype session really made a huge impact on them, because usually, they only get to talk to ((older)) volunteers like us- with a minimal age gap of 8 years or so(?), or international teachers. We had a 「振り返り」(Furikaeri- reflection/post mortem) session on the second day and I was really amazed to see how well they were able to express how they felt about themselves during this activity. They were instructed to write it out in Japanese in their files and they executed it perfectly. ((I mean, comparitively, I wouldn’t be able to write so much about my feelings when I was at that age)) They wrote stuff like (I’m writing it out in my own words but the main point is there): ‘ I felt like I wasn’t good enough and I would want to improve myself if I had a second chance to do so.’ and also ‘It was my first experience talking to people of my age from another country! But I felt like I wasn’t speaking loud enough, and so, I will try harder to improve next time.’ (This is just a small part of it, they were each writing a paragraph of their feelings in Japanese).  So, there, it taught me how Japanese people see this ‘Furikaeri’ as something important in their daily lives. I’m required to write out these personal reflections in school as well, but learning how they’ve been doing it since they’re young, it has become a habit and in a way, I feel that it’ll make them strive to be a better person and make them want to improve themselves constantly.

Okay, going back to the Skype session, the Australian kids were just sooooo adorable!! The responses they gave out were mainly 「はい」(Hai- yes)「ありがとう」(Arigatou- thank you) 💕💕 If you were in the room you’d be able to hear everyone squeal with joy whenever they said those in unison 😂 I could see the kids feeling very happy in their gleaming eyes because it’s an experience you they won’t get on a daily basis. Maybe to some, Skype is something they use everyday but to the kids, nope nope, it’ll be something they’ll remember for some time 🙂 

We then had a culture exchange activity in where the international students were divided into different rooms where we introduced our local culture and gave them a brief introduction about our country. Since I was there with Chun Yang (my friend from Malaysia), we went into the same group, along with Megan (from Jamaica). As an ice breaker we played a traditional Jamaican game- ‘Bruk Rockstone‘. Traditionally, rocks are used but since it was in a classroom setting, we used rolls of tapes instead. Passing tapes while beating it on the floor in a circle, we sang:

Go dung a Manuel Road Gal an Bway
fi guh bruk rock stone 
Bruk dem one by one gal and bway
bruk dem two by two gal and bway 
bruk dem tree by tree gal and bway
bruk dem four by four gal and bway….ect
finger mash nuh cry gal and bway
memba a play we deh play

 *bruk: broke; dem: them; nuh: no


It’s a game describing how they’re passing the stones and at the same time trying to break them(?) ((correct me if I’m wrong hehe)) and if they accidentally smash each other’s fingers while passing them, it tells them not to cry because it’s after all, just a game. 

Then, we gave them a brief introduction on Malaysia, on how our country is made up of different races and cultures, boasting away  on how we need to use many different languages to communicate with each other, ah, the usual. 😌 It’s always nice to introduce my Malaysian culture 🇲🇾 to other people because it makes me feel prouder as a Malaysian, to be immersed in this deep pool of culture, and at the same time I’ll get to learn about the similarities and differences between the cultures with the people I’m talking to (in general).

ps: we had to repeat the above^ for about 5 times because the kids were divided into 5 groups. Here, I’m finally able to appreciate how teachers have to repeat teaching their class content like 2748372974937 times every time they teach another class the same content

For the next activity, we were divided into 3 groups- ‘Cooking’ (where they made Filipino banana pancakes), ‘Musical’ (I was in this group- where we reenacted a story entitled ‘Little Blue and Little Yellow) and ‘Sports’ (where they played handball) 

We (Takeda-san, Connie, Ada and me) were all literally clueless about what to do with for the musical but yea we managed to pull it off in the end with our ‘chapalang‘ & spontaneous skills and creativity we had within us. Briefly, the story is about these two good friends- little blue and little yellow, whom changed colours when they hugged each other, making them unrecognizable to their parents, resulting them to cry till they went back to their original colours, thus being recognizable and then showing how their colours change when they hug each other. And, they lived happily ever after. The overall illustration was really simple because it was just dots of colours with a plain background, but I guess the story had much more to it. From my point of view, it’s about embracing our differences and then turning it into something new, which we can all accept after being able to see it from a new perspective. We tried our best to explain the story to the kids and hoped that they were able to picture the image we were trying to send to them. A few Japanese English teachers were there to help as well, and they translated the story word by word to the kids. I understand how they’re unable to get the initial meaning of the story but I actually hoped for them to understand the story fully in English, because when I was young, I learnt each language based on the language itself, using the language itself to learn, instead of translating everything to my preferred language. I mean, yea, we all have our own preferred language and we do translate it in our own brains but when we study a new language, that language will stay as our ‘main language’ in our own minds. I think it’s practically the same for all of us Malaysians as having a second/third/fourth language is really normal. So if you’re reading this and you’re Malaysian, you’re prolly on the same page as me now. Well, maybe they translated it so that they could understand it faster as time was limited so I’m just probably wrong about this 😊

Dressed in green vinyl bags, layered with yellow vinyl bags, and finally topped off with some laminated coloured spots on our hands, ending it with dancing a short chorus of High School Musical’s ‘We’re All In This Together’, it made me feel like a child again to act out these scenes together with them because I don’t think I’ll get to do stuff like these in my school at this age(?) We then presented it to everyone on the second day during one of the last few activities. Here, I learned how they can be perfectionists for things like these even though we had such limited time. For me, it’s okay to have slips on stage and then just go with the flow, but for them, they made sure everyone got enough practice till we could remember the whole flow of the musical and put up a great show to all the other campers and teachers who were going to be present on the following day. 

During dinner, we (the international students) got to tell the kids about our culture shocks and After a yummilicious dinner:

We got to play with fireworks with the kids!! Never in my life had I ever attended a camp where I get to play with fireworks so once again, I was is this super sakai mode and instead of using that time to socialize with the adults and international people present, I shamelessly played and frolicked around with the kids because sometimes I have this need to get out of my age zone for a while 😅 


Kicked started day 2 with the usual morning ‘Japanese Radio Taisou’ and a few games to wake ourselves up. Then we had a Japanese breakfast and got back to work. (omg I’m updating this draft a week later during my free time in another camp so my memory on this English camp is really vague rn😫😫😫- have been really busy with a lot of things lately) 

The kids got a chance to talk to other/former ALTs in another Skype session after a Furikaeri振り返り on the one they had a day before (I mentioned this in the beginning). The kids really hoped that they could talk to the same Australian kids as the day before but unfortunately the last minute plan didn’t work out. Oh wells, they still had a great time though! 

Presented our ‘Musical’ after that alongside the Filipino bamboo dance performance after lunch. Then, we, the international students were asked to convey a message of peace to the kids and try to educate them on the bombing occurred in Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945 and in Nagasaki on the 9th of August 1945. It’s not easy to convey such a touchy topic to kids though, because well, they’re still kids right?? Ada has a lot of experience in talking about the topic ‘Peace’ so I’m glad that she could say everything she could in her own kid-friendly way! 

We then assisted the kids to write a peace message in Hiragana or simple English to be sent to the Australian kids they talked to through Skype🙂 

Sadly, we had to go back early due to our loooong journey back to the city, so we left in the middle of the activity and bid our goodbyes.

With the main organizer of the camp, Takeda-san!

Fuchuu happens to be famous for miso- so we this as a souvenir from our chaperone 🙂

Overall a great experience!!

2

End of the first Semester


Hi guys,

Sorry I haven’t been posting anything at all here since I left my homeland 😅 Been somewhat busy/lazy at the same time so, my apologies.

I’ll promise to write a bit more during the summer holidays or when I want to hehe. It’s been a really hectic week for me here, so I thought of cooling off a bit by writing some stuff here.

Okay, so it’s been about 4 months since I’ve came to Japan (Kure National College of Technology) and I guess I can say that things are going well. So far I’ve gotten used to living in this huge personal dormitory (which comes with a personal fridge and a shareable kitchen) along with my new found Mongolian friend and my Malaysian senior. In terms of living in an international block all to ourselves, I feel that I’m given the opportunity to learn different cultures and to learn to tolerate at the same time. Not only that, I get the benefit to try out Mongolian dishes which I can never get to taste back in Malaysia! When I first moved in, my Malaysian seniors really helped me out in terms of feeling okay, bringing me out for weekend outings, and giving me advice whenever I need it. I owe them one.

In terms of studies, I was struggling a bit to catch up with everyone else in the beginning (as they’ve been studying certain subjects for 2 years) but I can say that it’s getting a bit better now, with the help of my teachers. Since I’m majoring in Mechanical Engineering, it’s challenging for me to learn all the technical terms in Japanese and too, write my practical reports in the language. ((though I have an exception to write out certain reports in English for my special classes – dedicated to international students only))

In the first semester, we have practical work 「実習」once a week, and it’s where we learn to make programs for machines, learn about engines, make casts for flowing 800 degrees hot aluminum, make personalized screws, you get the idea. It’s one of the classes I ((kinda)) look forward to every week because you get the hands-on feel you don’t get in normal high schools, (btw I’m still considered as a high school student here despite my age hahah – sorry old hag coming through) as one of the pros of attending a technical school.

We get mechanical drawing classes as well 「製図」for the first semester, and that’s where we’re divided into 4 big groups in the class, (drill press「ボール盤」, lathe「旋盤」, milling cutter「フライス盤」, prize game (a.k.a. those UFO catchers you see in entertainment centers)「プライズゲーム」then to other smaller groups to do our drawings of our respective chosen machines. I had totally no idea of this mechanical drawing subject, what more to say working with the Japanese 2-D autocad software (JWW) when I first came, so I had to start from ground zero, when all my other classmates had attended 2 years of classes regarding this subject. Now to recall, I really had problems with it at first and I always felt like I was a bit ignored because I was literally annoying everyone else with my never-ending-questions on how to work the software. After a while, I gave up on troubling others and tried to learn everything on YouTube, which helped me out in a way (despite all the tutorials being in Japanese). Well after about a month of struggling with that class, I finally gotten used to it and managed to help out with some drawings to contribute to my drill press group. Just a few days ago, we just finished our group drawing so, 「お疲れ」(Otsukare- a Japanese term said to congratulate you/your peers on your/their hard work) to us! I’m still amazed by how they’re able to think of designing a machine from scratch though, I couldn’t even do stuff like these when I was eighteen!! (It kinda sucks how there’s a age gap between them though, because I spent that time with my other 76 friends back in Malaysia to study the language and also prepare ourselves to come here to study) Hats off to them 😊👏🏻

We have other specialized subjects 「専門科目」like Metallurgy  ã€Œé‡‘属材料」and Material strength「材力」which I find interesting at times. Well I guess it’s all part of the challenge of studying abroad, throwing yourself into a whole new environment, pushing your mental strength to a new level and just accepting things as you go.

As for my social life here, I can say that the language and culture barrier has been one of the biggest challenges yet. Up till today, never have I completed a day without misinterpreting /misunderstanding what I hear from people or vice versa, which sucks in a way, because I am constantly having that feeling of ‘not good enough’ for my Japanese level. I can say that my speaking level really boosted up when I first came, but I can feel that it’s still not enough for me to fully understand 100% of the conversations I hear everyday. People here are generally shy, I guess, especially when your class consists of only 4 girls (inclusive of myself) out of the total 41 students in the class. I can get into conversations with some of my classmates now, which is a good thing but I think its mostly happening because I’ve been putting an effort to foster a relationship with them. Well, I can say that it’s either they’re shy to approach new people (if I think of it in a ”perasan” way), or they just don’t bother to do so as they’ve already formed their own cliques (being in the same class for 2 years).  On the bright side, I’m lucky to have a few friends who are willing to make the first move to talk to me as well, so I guess it’s not that bad when I think of it. It’s just that when I’m away from home, and away from the good company of friends and family I used to have everyday, I tend to crave that sort of Malaysian friendly spirit we all have, and actually expect my friends here to be like the ones back at home, which is like waiting for durians to grow out from the ground. I do still feel lonely at times though, because the extrovert in me just can’t stand not being loud enough as I used to be. Nevertheless, I’d like to take it positively and hope for a better second semester ahead!! 🙂

A few highlights of my life here since I came:

Introducing… the Hiroshima Castle!!


Went for a tour of Akitakata City under the city’s sponsorship, and met new friends there!


Gave a brief introduction on Malaysia to a few of my friends here in Japan during the International Exchange Party! My Mongolian friend- Maral, too, had the chance to introduce her country to everyone


Travelled to Osaka with my Malaysian friends studying here in Japan during the Golden Week holiday


Got to meet the Malaysian community in Hiroshima on the second week after coming here


My Malaysian seniors- Hidayah and Afif!

If you’re pursuing the same preparation course or planning to study abroad, just be reminded that it’s not going to be a bed of roses, but it’s going to be worth the experience! There are definitely pros and cons of studying abroad or locally, so I hope this post will more or less give you an insight of my experience here so far 🙂

 

0

JPA Scholarship- Student Assessment Centre (SAC)

Hi guys!

Sorry for being a bit late on this but I hope those going for the interview next week will be able to read this post in time 🙂

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From what I can remember 2 years ago, this SAC session didn’t really feel like an interview. It felt like a group work thing with a group of people you initially didn’t know.

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Here’s a picture of some of us after the SAC session 🙂 Amber and Bong are already in France, starting their 3rd year soon, while me and Karls will be going to Japan next week! //aduh sorry muka besar//

Before going for the interview, they sent us a list of documents to bring and a few forms to be printed. So just go ahead and do whatever instructed in that letter. Oh, and from what I can remember, we had to complete a personality test online consisting of about 250 questions if I’ve not mistaken. I only knew that I was called in for the interview really late, so I didn’t manage to complete the questions in time, but they still let me attend the SAC session. (I don’t recommend you doing this tho heh) One more thing, the dress code was- long-sleeved polo t-shirt, track bottoms and sport shoes. Quite an interesting combination. My friend Kaylyn, wrote a much more detailed blog post on the whole SAC process last year, so please check it out!! 🙂

My interview venue was at UNIMAS, reached there at about 1.30 pm. I was in Sesi 2, which was supposed to start at 2 pm. Registered myself, handed in all my documents and waited ((quite)) anxiously. Talked to a few other participants while waiting because I noticed they were wearing PLKN track bottoms, socks and shoes too (like me) heh so we had some common ground to talk. Only about half of the participants were present though, I guess its because most of them were already studying in Semenanjung or they suddenly thought that trying out for this scholarship was a bad idea hm.

Once we went into the allocated room, we were each given a huge ass number plate (to be hung around our necks). When you go for your interview, make sure that your number is always visible to the judges (the representatives from JPA), because that’s the only thing they’re relying on to identify you.

The SAC session started off with a few ice breaking games, where we got to know each other better before starting the serious stuff. It was fun for me so it should be for you too! I think that they started judging us the minute we started the ice breaking game, so bear in mind that you’ll be closely watched by everyone once you go into the SAC venue. No stress, just go with the flow and it’ll be okay! The representative from JPA reminded us that that particular interview was a one-shot thing, unlike other scholarships where you have to go through many many stages to be awarded the scholarship. Whereas for this JPA scholarship, you’ll only have to pass this interview.

After that, we were divided into 2 groups, given a piece of mahjong paper and a marker pen for the next part of the SAC. This happened 2 years ago so I’m apologizing in advance if you think that my description is too brief or general, or if this information is too outdated as the SAC sessions may vary depending on the year :S

The first discussion was fully in Malay, so if you’re not that fluent in speaking Bahasa Malaysia (like me), just be prepared for it if you can. We were told to discuss and present a new policy (like how my program to Japan is derived from the Dasar Pandang Ke Timur (Look East Policy) to be created in Malaysia in the year 2050, and how it will be able to benefit the people of that time. This part is quite crucial because I guess the JPA representatives want to judge how well you’re able to work in a team, how you can communicate with another without seeming too bossy(?) (not sure if bossy is the right word to use here but as long as you’re not too loba (over) with whatever you’re supposed to do, then it’ll be fine), how well you’re able to speak in your own national language, how well you project your own ideas with a group of people you barely even know.

The second discussion was in English, so I was a bit more confident on this one. 🙂 I didn’t stutter as much but everyone else in the room were really good too, so I didn’t really expect myself to get this scholarship after this session. We were asked to talk about how social media (or was it particularly Facebook, I can’t remember) affects our daily lives, and how it impacts us in any way. We just divided out the points we wanted to say equally, so that we wouldn’t feel behsong with each other if our ideas had clashed. It was a peaceful discussion no worries. 🙂

One thing I noticed during the discussion- you have to be moderate (nilai murni: Kesederhanaan) when presenting your ideas in front of everyone (the other participants and the JPA representatives). I noticed some people talking for like 5 mins straight in the other group (when the time limit for everyone in the group consisting of 7-8 people was 15 mins?) and I felt like that person wasn’t very considerate with his presenting time. There was someone who talked a bit too little as well, probably he was aware of that and didn’t wanna take up other people’s presenting time so I guess you can’t be toooo nice during the SAC as well, you’ll end up losing your place in the scholarship. Before presenting with my group we talked through dividing out the presenting time equally so it wasn’t that bad, I think. ps: this all based on my personal observation only so don’t take it to heart if you feel offended okay 😀

One more tip: Just remember to be yourself and have fun with the whole SAC process! Bear in mind that you guys won’t be able to meet as one whole group anymore in the future, so just make the most out of this session to make new friends 🙂

All the best for your interview! Don’t hesitate to ask me anything, just pm/message me and I’ll reply as soon as possible 🙂

加油加油加油!!!頑張れ!!!きっと勝つ!!

 

 

5

JPA Scholarship (Program Khas Jepun, Korea, Perancis, Jerman)

Hey guys! Sooo, the 2016 SPM results were just released today! and the application for this JPA scholarship to Japan, Korea, France and Germany just opened today as well!

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Okay first things first, if you meet the minimum requirements for this scholarship, don’t hesitate to apply. Although I’m under the scholarship to go to Japan, I’ll just give you all a brief explanation on the whole scholarship. 🙂 I’ll write a more detailed post on the one to Japan soon (provided I don’t procrastinate heh)

Something new for this year’s scholarship: They’re offering you guys to take up Social Science for the scholarship to France & Science and Technology for the scholarship to Korea and Germany! (it used to be limited to Engineering only)

Before applying, I thought that it’d be good if you’d aware of:

tmc changes

taken from page 11 of this

Yup it’s stated as a scholarship but I just want you guys to be aware of these changes in the Terms and Conditions (the change was implemented since 2016) of the scholarship. It’s a government scholarship so it’s self-explanatory 🙂 (当たり前)

Deadline (this is extremely important as late applications won’t be entertained): 5 pm, 22nd March 2017

So how do you apply?

Just go to this website (eSila) and click on the ‘Daftar’ button to create an account to apply for it. Then fill in all the necessary details and submit it to the website. Easy peasy lemon squeezy 🙂 There’s gonna be quite a lot of stuff to fill so just remember to double-check the information you’ve provided before hitting the submit button. Ok la not that hard, just a lot of details to fill in. You can do it slowly and continue filling up the forms the next day as long as you remember to click ‘save’ after inputting new info into your account.

You’ll be given a confirmation slip (Slip Pengesahan Permohonan Penajaan Program JKPJ Tahun 2017) after submitting all your information and don’t forget to print it out/save it in somewhere you wouldn’t forget because it’s the only proof you have for applying for this scholarship 🙂

Lastly, you’ll have to constantly check for the applications on the website yourself after the deadline (to know if you’re called in for the interview). You won’t be notified through email or whatsoever //like what I had assumed// so just remember to check it by yourself. (I only found out that I was called in for the interview on the interview day itself thanks to Lillian //ps: please click on the link to view her blog!! it’s really good hehe// 🙂 so please don’t be like me tq)

important dates jpa scholarship 2017

here you go^^^

Yup, that’s about it! Hope this helps 🙂

All the best and good luck for applying!! Bye bye