In recent years, more and more Vietnamese people are being seen and standing out in Japanese society. Out of all the foreign residents within Japan, 13% of them are Vietnamese. Also, Vietnamese people hold the highest number of technical intern training visas.
In this article, we are going to be introducing you to another member of the FUN! JAPAN editorial team who moved to Japan due to her mother's work during her middle-school years, how she had a school lifestyle which was completely unique to Japan, as well as how she became accustomed to and experienced Japanese culture from a young age. This is the story of our Vietnamese editor, Yurina.
Coming to Japan
I first came to Japan in 2009 after just turning 12 years old. In the past, my aunt came to Japan via a technical intern training visa, which had a direct effect on my mother who then wanted to try working in Japan for herself. My mother remarried to a Japanese partner and decided to settle down in Japan. Before coming to Japan, I enjoyed things such as anime and music, which is where I began learning Japanese through singing, even if I didn't understand the words, I would sing anyway. My favorite anime which I have loved since elementary school and to this day is Cardcaptor Sakura.
Circumstances Between Japan and Vietnam
Japan, an advanced and developed country is something many Vietnamese people long to live in, and when talking about it from an economical standpoint, in Vietnamese people's eyes, "America is 1st, Japan is 2nd", which is crazy to think about! Vietnamese people know and love many famous Japanese brands such as HONDA, SUZUKI, TOYOTA, as well as "Ajinomoto", which is a Japanese seasoning, even if they don't understand the meaning, almost all Vietnamese people understand "Ajinomoto", and you'll find it in almost every household.
The Blessing of Those Around me in Middle School
After arriving in Japan, I was introduced to a nearby middle school from my local city hall. The school itself was located within an area where many foreigners were living, so most of the children who were at the school had foreigners in their family. The teachers were very kind, as well as teaching normal lessons, they would even give 1-to-1s when teaching Japanese.
In my case, I would have 1-to-1 Japanese lessons during what would normally be cooking or society lessons. Mathematics, English, and PE were done with everyone else. Once I entered my 2nd year of middle school, I took most of my lessons with everyone else in the class, however, I had to get a lot of help from my Japanese classmates for classes that I missed in the first year. Also, after I had finished assignments or on weekends, I would go to a volunteer Japanese language school, where I would learn Japanese. The hardest time was during my 3rd year because that's when you have to study the most things.
The Culture-Shock-Filled Japanese School Lifestyle
The school lifestyle in Japan was really interesting, but at first, there were so many differences compared to Vietnam that it shocked me a little, and was hard to get accustomed to. For example, Japanese people like to move in groups. When it was time for PE or cooking class, everyone would move to the classroom together, and I was even asked if I wanted to go to the toilet together. In Vietnam, it's the complete opposite, there's no such custom. Also, Japan has a lot of different activities that have to be performed such as cleaning, culture festivals, sports festivals, and more. These are also things that don't take place in Vietnam, so I really felt the difference in culture. There's a game in Japan known as chicken fight, also known as shoulder wars, which everyone knows, but I didn't even know what people were talking about when they told me about it! I had so many questions...
Becoming the Bridge Between Japan and Vietnam to Repay a Debt
I love international exchanges and thought that, if I had the opportunity, I would love to use my native language to translate or interpret, so in university, I decided to do some international research. During my 4th year at university, I started a part-time job at FUN! JAPAN. During my time in middle school and volunteering, I was helped a lot by the people around me, so I thought I would like to repay that debt by bridging the gap between Japan and Vietnam.
I'm Glad I Joined FUN! JAPAN!
During my time at university I studied things such as marketing, which helped in my current workplace, which was filled with foreign people allowing for many international exchanges, it was truly a job I had hoped for. Not just this, but FUN! JAPAN itself, similar to my own story, was just starting out, which allows for many new and interesting challenges, even after graduating, I would love to continue working for this company.
My first ever company as a member of society was FUN! JAPAN. I wasn't only doing translation work but collecting information and resources across the country, as well as many more interesting and challenging tasks. There were also some unexpected discoveries, when I first started this work, I wasn't really a fan of traveling, but have since come to love it! Within the company, there are people from all over the world, and talking with these people makes my workplace a really fun one!
Advice for People Wanting to come to Japan
In my case, after coming to Japan, I had to study with all my effort to ensure I wasn't left behind by my peers. Japan is well regarded in Vietnam thanks to it being a very developed country. Right now, there are many Vietnamese people who are studying abroad in Japan or coming on visas and can speak a little Japanese and maybe have short conversations. I would highly recommend trying to go to a volunteer Japanese language school, speak more with your friends, and improve your Japanese as much as possible. Try living in the country for real, communicate with those around you, visit the surrounding stores to try out your skills for real, this will surely make it easier for you to remember. At first, it might be difficult, you might not understand anything, but the people around you will guide you in the right direction.