Meeting with ASIA to JAPAN
It all began during my third year of engineering, in 2021, amid the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. With college lectures and everything shifting to the online realm, I decided to enroll in an edX course on monozukuri, which is all about Japanese craftsmanship. In this course, I delved into how Japanese manufacturing companies operate, their commitment to discipline, and various manufacturing technologies that are now used worldwide.
During this class, I had the opportunity to craft a small copper tube steamboat. Beyond the technical aspects, it opened my eyes to the art of manufacturing and the pursuit of perfection. I was truly amazed in many ways, and it sparked my interest in Japanese manufacturing.
I began my search for Japanese classes. One of my friends was learning Japanese through ASIA to JAPAN. They recommended this class to me. However, I was already a week late to enroll in the course.
I reached out to them and requested to join the class, as I was eager to do so. I had heard that the FAST OFFER International program not only offered courses but also provided job opportunities to students. They had various exclusive classes, including preparation for the JLPT exams, spoken Japanese courses, and interview preparation courses. This was perfect for me, as I was more interested in working in the industry than pursuing further academic studies. Choosing to come to Japan isn’t a common decision in my country, but I found it incredibly appealing.
Experience with ASIA to JAPAN and Learning Japanese
Initially, I had concerns about managing everything. Learning three scripts – katakana, hiragana, and kanji – and grasping the grammar after joining the course a week late seemed like an impossible task. However, I must say, thanks to all the Sensei (teachers), they made it all so enjoyable.
The classes were well-structured, and the Sensei were fun-loving. They built a great bond with us, and the way they encouraged interaction was fantastic. Even though the classes were online, they organized various online games that kept us engaged. We frequently went into breakout rooms during online sessions and interacted with each other. So, it turned out to be a truly memorable journey.
Kanji, admittedly, was quite challenging. But what I found fascinating was that even if you didn’t understand the whole sentence, if you recognized some of the kanji characters, you could get the gist of what the sentence meant. The compactness of the written language was captivating to me.
The most challenging aspect for me was communication. I had learned grammar patterns and writing, but I lacked the practical training to use them in everyday conversations. Fortunately, ASIA to JAPAN offered various courses, such as spoken Japanese and business Japanese.
What really helped was that there were many international students from Asia, and most of them didn’t speak English very well. The common language that remained was Japanese, which we were all learning. So, we were sort of forced to communicate in Japanese. This turned out to be incredibly beneficial for me.
The interview was conducted online, and to be honest, it turned out to be easier than I had expected. I had some concerns about whether they would understand my explanations and how they would interpret what I said. However, the support I received from ASIA to JAPAN made the whole process much smoother. They provided me with detailed information about the submission process and deadlines.
The way they communicated with me was not only efficient but also kind and caring. They even assigned me a mentor who was incredibly respectful and supportive. My mentor guided me on how Japanese companies operate and what they typically look for in new employees.
What I found particularly helpful was that they assigned different mentors for each company I interviewed with. The ASIA to JAPAN staff also gave me a comprehensive understanding of each company’s vision, mission, the products they manufacture, and their location. They even shared information about attractive places and tourist spots related to the interviewing companies.
In preparation for the interview, I took the initiative to practice on my own. I set up mock Zoom calls where I was the only participant. This helped me practice day by day, improving my ability to express myself clearly and avoid misunderstandings, especially since the interview was conducted online.
With support and effort, my interviews went well. The interviewers from the companies were friendly and had a smiling face, which made it easier. The second interview I had was longer than the first, and some questions were a bit tedious, but I managed it well, thanks to the practice and the question-and-answer preparation by ASIA to JAPAN’s staff.
I’m really excited about coming to Japan. My job offer ceremony (Naitei-shiki) is coming up this September, and it will also be my first visit to Japan.
My vision after coming to Japan
My plan is to work in Japan for an extended period. I firmly believe that understanding and truly adapting to a culture takes several years. When it comes to short-term stays abroad, I often see people leaving just when they are beginning to get accustomed to the country. While India and Japan may leave different impressions, I’ve discovered some common threads in their customs and underlying beliefs.
Even during my internship in India, I came across Japanese words like ‘Kaizen’ (改善). Although I’ve never been to Japan, I believe that when you connect with something, you can thrive in that environment. I’m eager to learn how their mindset is cultivated, the level of discipline they uphold, their consistency, and their work ethic. These aspects can’t be truly grasped in just a few years.
Through my internship and monozukuri classes, I’ve gained exposure to various ideas and production engineering systems that originated in Japan. I understand that I could study these technologies in India as well, but what often happens is that when technology is transferred to another country, people tend to modify it to suit their convenience or production processes. So, why not study these technologies in the country where they originated? That’s why I’m determined to stay in Japan for an extended period and master them.
It is worth keeping it challenging
I wasn’t certain if I could secure admission to join the course, especially since I was a week late. Even after gaining acceptance, my performance at the start was not impressive. Students undergo a mock interview with ASIA to JAPAN staff to assess their Japanese proficiency and communication skills. Following additional steps, students are connected with companies. In my case, it took a year for companies to reach out to me. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why am I not getting selected?”
That’s when I began practicing in front of a mirror or in dummy Zoom calls. I realized the need to incorporate more grammar patterns and vocabulary into my speech. What propelled me was the saying, ‘人生とは出会いであり、同じ招待は繰り返されない,’ which translates to “Life is an encounter and the invitation would never be repeated.” I consider myself blessed to be admitted to the ASIA to JAPAN program—a rare opportunity I might never encounter again.
The FAST OFFER International program is truly exceptional, offering a streamlined pathway to secure a job in Japan. However, it’s crucial to emphasize the importance of honing your communication skills and fostering firm determination. Even during my struggles, the ASIA to JAPAN staff continuously supported me, ensuring I didn’t lose hope. This opportunity is remarkable, and chances like these may not knock on your door twice.
Undoubtedly, there will be challenging days in this journey. Whenever I faced rejections or a lack of interview approaches from companies, I reflected on why I embarked on this journey. I learned that failure is just a phase. Every time we stumble, it’s essential to remember why we initiated this journey, allowing that motivation to fuel our drive to achieve the goals we’ve set.