In August 2015, I was blessed with the opportunity to take part in the Japanese Language Training Program in Japan. The two weeks I spent in Japan were so dream-like; I still cannot believe that I got to see things that I had only seen through a screen or a book before, like in manga and drama. It was nothing like watching anime at home, or going to Japanese classes back in Egypt. I was overwhelmed. I met a lot of people, went to a lot of places, and while that naturally improved my Japanese skills, that was not the only thing I gained. There were numerous things I learned about, like manners and much more.
Everything was in Japanese: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Even the tour guide explained almost everything in Japanese, and all that immersion made my head so full of Japanese. At first, however, I was worried about whether I could express myself well in Japanese, but my nervousness soon melted down thanks to the teachers, personnel, and interns there. There were also many times when I got lost, and put in a situation where I would have to ask someone about the way or I would not be able to go anywhere. So I had to get over my anxiousness and ask people, and when I did, they were all very courteous, and some of them even showed interest in me, and asked me where I was from, or how I learned Japanese. Experiences like these made me more confident to try and speak Japanese as much as I could even if I did not think I could do it.
What boosted my confidence even more, were all the friends I made there. We were all from different countries, but we had one thing in common: we all loved Japan, were studying Japanese hard, and were doing our best to communicate and understand each other in Japanese. It was so much fun being able to talk together freely and casually, with no care for appearances or beliefs, and we always ended up talking a lot, which also improved my conversational skills. What is more, the constant language challenge increased my determination to get better and better at Japanese.
During the home visit, I talked about a variety of very interesting topics with the host family, and I felt that I was spiritually refreshed. I could strongly feel the Japanese politeness and mannerism. Seeing how Japanese families live, I learned about their culture and the way they think. I was so happy to be able to make takoyaki (octopus dumplings) myself, learn about tea ceremony, and eat Japanese sweets. What left the deepest impression on me was how happy the host family was to meet us – the trainees. After connecting with so many Japanese people, I could understand them more and explore multiple perspectives, and I felt that I have got closer to them. Furthermore, I have learned things like “how to say this correctly in Japanese” and “how should I go about this so as not to be thought of badly by Japanese society” which faced with numerous situations. The Japanese expressions, dialects, aesthetics and traditions the Japanese teachers taught us in the classroom were also very handy. The Japanese study websites are also extremely useful. Since I could listen to a variety of dialects and accents, I can now tell them apart when I hear them in anime and the likes.
My love for and knowledge about Japan has considerably deepened thanks to the cultural activities and trips we made. Learning more about the tragedy in Hiroshima, and visiting Kyoto’s temples was very informative to me, who had already been interested in Japanese history. In my free time, I had fun going to many historic places related to the Shinsengumi.
The more I learn about Japanese spirit, the more I want to study it, and the more I want to convey this knowledge to a lot of people. It would be great if I can use what I learned and experienced in Japan to help my friends who are learning Japanese with me in Egypt. I want everyone in Egypt to know Japan’s great environment, where “human beings” are valued, and the highest technologies are created for the good of the people. I would love for them to do their best at studying, so that they can experience Japan’s beauty. I will also do my best to help bridge gaps between Japan and Egypt. I wish for them to let go of unpleasant thoughts and anxieties, and just freely speak Japanese without being afraid of making mistakes. I learned this from my seniors, and I keep saying this to myself, as well.
I am deeply grateful to everyone in the Japanese course in Alexandria, everyone in the training program, and Japan Foundation, who helped make this possible. Overall, I feel that I have grown.
Now that I have graduated from the Japanese course in Alexandria, that trip to Japan has been and will be the ray of hope which supports me. Everything I saw and experienced in Japan motivates me to give it my all, and pushed me forward. Even if continuing to learn on my own might be difficult because I no longer go to classes, I have closely experienced how amazing the world of Japan is, so I can never give up. I still want to understand Japan and Japanese people better. I am pumped up!
I will cherish the precious time I spent, and the irreplaceable relationships built during this program. Everybody I met in this program is going to each walk their own path, but I would like it if I remained in someone’s memory.
I am sorry for troubling you, and thank you very much!