It is human nature for every single person to have the innate feeling of wanting to explore. Personally, there was always something in me yearning for more. Beginning college, I was shaken by a feeling of complacency and it was a feeling that made me angst. I am young and in college, what was I doing just sitting there? Japan had always been at the top of my bucket list and I made it my goal to be able to go to the country by the end of my freshman year either through an internship or by studying abroad. I got to work and I was able to get my internship in Tokyo, Japan for two months. Luckily, my school made the process very easy and I was able to make my dreams a reality. Coming to Japan has truly been a blessing and something everyone should consider experiencing.
It might be scary at first and it might feel safe to stay where you feel comfortable, but living abroad and truly immersing yourself into another culture you knew nothing about does not compare to the streets you walk everyday or the routine you have set out for yourself. By having to fend for yourself in a new country and having to start from scratch, you learn more about yourself than you would have in your own home. For example, I never knew I was the type of person to be willing to wake up at 6 A.M. everyday to workout, but apparently I am. I never knew I would be able to understand a rail system in a completely different language, but I do now. I never knew I could do so much by simply willing to live a little.
1. Do not let finances stop you. If you are interested in coming to intern at Japan for a prolonged period, make sure to check out your school’s programs, the scholarships the school makes available to you, and scholarships from outside resources. Check online and in your school’s offices. Take your time with your applications and seriously commit to your search. This will take effort and time, but as soon as you see the Japanese landscape from your airplane window and step in Japanese land it will all be worth it.
2. Be prepared for culture shock. Japanese culture or any culture in another country will be different. Unwritten rules will always apply and you will stand out if you do not abide by them. For example, people do not speak in public transportation and everything is extremely orderly (which makes a country with a huge population so easy to navigate). However, it is easy to adapt (you could even watch fifty youtube videos on Japanese culture like I did). When in Japan, do as the Japanese.
3. Take advantage of your stay. If you have made your way into Japan, go out and EXPLORE! At first, I was overwhelmed by the amount of places I wanted to visit, but as soon as I got here I realized that anywhere I went was going to be amazing. Also, do not stay stuck in your room watching netflix or napping all day, everyday. The world is out there and you are hiding behind your room doors. As much as you think you have enough time, time eventually runs out and before you know it you will be packing your bags and going back home.
4. Google Maps is your friend! Unless you know Japanese, it could be difficult to make your way through the subway and the metros. I had always been an Apple Maps fan, but Google Maps saved me in Japan. Google Maps tells you every single station, platform, and what stop to take and even tells you the times each subway comes in (the Japanese are very prompt). While there is english translations of the stations and stops you are going to, it is always better to safely know where you are headed.
5. Do your research on Japan’s work culture and etiquette. I have established that Japan is a little different when it comes to social etiquette and norms and that does include the way the Japanese conduct their business environments. Japanese people are used to working for long hours, so you will too. It is also a very group oriented workplace rather than an individual one. Hierarchy comes a long way and your manners are extremely important. Rather than shaking hands, be sure to place your hands in front of you if you are a girl and on your side if you are a boy and then proceed to bow slowly and not too low. Be timely (even a little early if you can) and be energetic. Your mood will be easily detected and it is better for you to be in an enthusiastic mood. All in all, just be aware of your surroundings!
Finally, do not be taken aback by the work environment in Japan as it is great experience and you will grow personally and professionally. An internship in Japan will allow you to make connections and will nurture your future path and success. Japan is an incredible country filled with the kindest people and the amount of things to do are endless!