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Crossing Cultures: A Nepali Student's Experience in Japan

We decided to interview one of the most successful students of our academy, Deula Sujina. The girl came to us from Kathmandu, Nepal, and has been studying at the intensive Japanese language course for a year now.

CLAY: Hello, Sujina-san, how are you?

SUJINA: A little tired, but in a good mood, thank you.

CLAY: Can you tell me about your everyday life?

SUJINA: From Monday to Friday, my days start at 6 in the morning when I practice kanji on my own. From 9 to 12:10, I attend school classes. After school, I go home, have lunch, and do my homework. In the evening, I go to work, and after that, from 10:30 to 11:30, I study on my own again. On the weekends I usually work full day.

It's challenging because I have to study and work simultaneously.

But to enter a university in Japan, you need not only knowledge but also money. After university, many opportunities open up here. Since education costs money, I work part-time at a restaurant after school. It's tiring, but my desire to successfully enter university outweighs the fatigue.

CLAY: Is studying in Japan significantly different from studying in Nepal?

SUJINA: for me studying vocabulary and grammar in Nepal was easier because everything was in my native language, making understanding the meaning of new words easier.

In CLAY, we use books with explanations in English, so if you don't speak English fluently, sometimes you will need to spend extra time looking for translations. However, being immersed in a Japanese-speaking environment, both speaking ability and listening comprehension improve quite rapidly. That means you'll find yourself able to engage in conversations much quicker.

Additionally, this school's(CLAY) curriculum includes not only grammar and vocabulary but also manners of communication, correct intonation, and pronunciation correction to speak with a more Japanese accent. This is pretty useful.

CLAY: Did you get used to Japanese environment quickly or was it hard for you?

SUJINA: Well, Japan is a different country, language and culture are different, so it is difficult to get used to it right away. But I am planning to live in Japan, so I need to understand the environment in which I will exist. I like that I have the opportunity to meet and get to know many people both at school and at work, get connections, and new friends.

CLAY: What was the most difficult part of adapting to the new environment?

SUJINA: The hardest thing is when you don't understand what your boss or colleague says to you, what they are asking you to do. Or when you use a learned word incorrectly, which can cause awkward situations.

For example, when I first started working I mixed up words "otearai" and "otera". And instead of "お手洗はどこですか" (where is the bathroom?), I asked "お寺はどこですか" (where is the temple?). It was very embarrassing. My colleague was very understanding and corrected me so I would not repeat this mistake, but in the end we had a good laugh about it.

When I first moved to Japan, the principal and owner of CLAY, Yoda-sensei, was very supportive and helpful. She advised on where it is better to go to the store, where it is cheaper, where to see a doctor, where to call if something unusual happened, and so on. I was surprised that they cared about me so much. The way I was treated at the Japanese school exceeded my expectations.

CLAY: Can you address the future students of CLAY and give them some advice?

SUJINA: Dear new students, while you are still in Nepal, please learn to write your name in katakana and romaji. Also, having arrived in Japan, it is necessary to know at least hiragana and katakana, as well as basic expressions, for example, how to say hello, goodbye, thank you etc.

CLAY: What would you recommend new students bring to Japan for the first time?

SUJINA: Money! I recommend taking at around 200,000 yen, because at the beginning you will not be able to work and earn, so it will be very difficult to survive with less. Life in Japan is more expensive than in Nepal.

For things other than personal items, you should bring your medicines and your favorite spices, as analogs can be expensive or even unavailable here.

As for cutlery and crockery, the dormit has shared ones, or you can buy your own at the 100 yen shop. I brought mine with me because it's more convenient for me.

CLAY: Have you changed in any way after moving to Japan?

SUJINA: Hard question. It seems to me that I have hardly changed. In Japan, everyone is very polite, and when greeting, saying goodbye, or saying thank you, they bow. Now I also have such a habit. For example, in Nepal, when the work is over, you just say "bye" and leave. And in Japan, you have to politely say goodbye by using expressions like "お疲れ様です。お先に失礼します"(otsukaresama desu. osakini shitsurei shimasu), which means "We did a good job today. I'm sorry I'm leaving before you." It is very important to greet people properly in Japan, this is Japanese etiquette.

CLAY: What do you plan to do after graduation?

SUJINA: After finishing school, I plan to go to university here in Japan. I have several options where I want to enroll, but it all depends on whether I can pass the JLPT N2 language exam this year.

CLAY: Thank you for your time! I think new students will be interested to read about your experience.

SUJINA: Thank you for inviting me!

CLAY: To our readers, we hope you found Sujina-san's story inspiring and informative. If you have any questions or thoughts to share, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Thank you again, Sujina-san, and best of luck with your future endeavors!

 SUJINA: Thank you for your time!

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