“I overcame the language barrier through the music and the get- togethers ”
Nyapan has an interview with a real-life Wan-kun who is from overseas living in Japan.Akadama FAN(Friend’s Actual Note)
Episode 9 ~Dayna-san from Louisville in the United States~
●When did you come to Japan?
I went to Oyama city in Tochigi prefecture in September 2012 as an international student.To be honest, I was not so interested in Japan originally.When I had to choose a foreign language at university I just picked Japanese, because it seemed more interesting than the other languages. At first I chose Japanese for credit, but from when I started learning Japanese, it became more and more interesting and Japanese language became my major.I also majored in English and it was so interesting to compare both languages, which have totally different grammar and structures. In those days, my Japanese teacher encouraged me to study abroad, saying I would do well in Japan and found a study abroad program at a Japanese university for me.That program was willing to underwrite the expenses of all my
school and the rent, what’s more I could receive a scholarship every month. Then I decided to go to Japan!
●Were there any surprises when you actually came to Japan?
The most surprising thing was that I saw elementary school students going to school by themselves. That could never happen in the US! If little kids who are under 10 years old walk in the streets, their parents would be held responsible. Although it’s not illegal, it goes against common sense. I thought Japan was a safe country. I was also surprised at the the differences the way students spend their school life. High school students in the US enjoy a lot of freedoms, but once you get into a university you must study hard. American students spend most of their school life dedicated to their studies.Otherwise, you can’t graduate from university.Meanwhile, high school students in Japan study hard for university entrance examinations. But once they get into a university, many Japanese students often skip lectures and spend a lot of time enjoying activities. It is totally opposite.The most impressive thing in Japan was that public transportation vehicles are clean, and are always on time!
●Could you communicate well with Japanese people quickly?
I couldn’t do it at all at first.I had studied Japanese for years in the US, but I thought of my knowledge of vocabulary, Kanji and grammar as just for examinations. When I had first come to Japan, I had no idea how to speak in Japanese in actual conversation. I could only say “I am Dayna.” in a polite way in Japanese, “Dayna to moushimasu.” at the beginning.
But I joined a study group of an international environment and as I communicated with the members of the group, I made friends a little by little. Some people spoke English well, others didn’t, but we sometimes had get-togethers and drank together. When we drank, the feelings of embarrassment that we would feel if we spoke incorrect Japanese or English faded away, and tried to talk a lot to each other. This time made us close.And Karaoke! Even if, someone didn’t speak English, they liked American or British songs.We sang our favorite English songs together, which gave us great times. Especially, The Beatles is common to all countries.Because of that, a Chinese person and I became the best of friends through The Beatles at Karaoke.We went to Paul McCartney’s concert in Japan in 2015, and we still keep in touch. I deepened good relationships with Japanese people by the power of music and drinking.In the meantime, I became able to speak in daily conversations after a year.
●What brought you to Sapporo?
My ex-boyfriend, who I met in Tochigi, is from Sapporo.He came back to Sapporo after graduation and I came here with him. I understood Japanese to a certain degree at the time,but there was another language barrier too..It was hard to understand the dialect that his family spoke. I found a job as an English teacher, and I teach English to many students at Hokkaido Global Linx now. Teaching a language is sometimes difficult.Because languages
are not only about grammar and words but are also related to historical and cultural backgrounds.There are some difficulties, but I enjoy my work!
Sapporo is a nice city so I’m going to live here for a while.My favorite place is
Susukino and like drinking Oolong hai（oolong tea with Shochu liquor) ^^
●What do you think of Japanese people?
Japanese people are polite and kind! When I get lost, people are kind enough to tell me the way.And I’m impressed by customer services in Japan, which offer well-mannered and kind attitudes to every customer. American people tend to speak frankly to customers. It seems rude sometimes. On the other hand, I have experiences of feeling bad in Japan. For example, one time when I got on a ferry, there were some older Japanese people sitting close to me.One of them looked at me and he said “Foreigners give me the creeps”. He must have thought I couldn’t understand Japanese, but I understood it. It really hurt me…
I heard a similar story from my friend.When he went to a Genghis Khan restaurant (where you can eat grilled lamb meat), he heard Japanese businessmen who were next table to him saying “Foreigners can’t tell the quality of this meat from another.” in Japanese.My friend understood what they said! Despite the fact that they were saying so rude to him, one of the
businessmen suddenly talked to him in English like “Hello! Do you like Japan? How do you like the meat?” He told me that thing made him really uncomfortable.I think many people, even from other countries, understand Japanese more than some Japanese people think.
Everyone should be careful about that.
●How do you like Japanese food?
I love Sushi, Tempura, Ramen, Soba and Tsukemono(Japanese pickled vegetables). I don’t like Natto. If Natto is mixed with some ingredients, it’s OK.But Natto with rice is…. I can’t come to like it 💦 I have tried to make Japanese food myself, but somehow it becomes a slightly different taste.When I made Temaki-zushi(*), that went well. It was difficult to choose what ingredients I should use though.Making Ramen was challenging.I cook rice now. I prepare for a week’s worth of rice and keep it in a freezer.When I eat it, just microwave it. It’s convenient.(* Temaki-zush: self-hand rolled sushi. Spread vinegar rice on seaweed, and then put in any ingredients that you like.)
●Could you tell us about your future dreams?
I’ve considered what I can do other than teaching English in Japan. I dream of becoming a professional writer. I want to learn about it in graduate school and pass the highest level of Japanese-Language Proficiency Test in order to achieve my dream.If I could write about Japan at a Japanese travel agency, that would be great.
< Nyapan’s Note>
Dayna-san came from Kentucky, in the United States to Japan. She is a very cheerful person.She told us frankly and honestly about good and bad things in Japan.Her story
reminded me that I was discriminated against in some other countries.I again realized we should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality or language. And I was impressed that if my language is not enough,I could overcome it through the other types of communication like music or drinking.
Akadama Japan expects that Dayna-san will write about Japan in the future!