When I started at UEA I had all these big plans about the societies I was going to join and all the awesome things I was going to do while I was at university. Unfortunately I didn’t get around to doing most of that, mainly because I forgot to factor in that I’m rather socially inept and struggle talking to people when they start the conversation, let alone actively trying to make conversation. So after that failed I started to doubt I was going to do anything out of the ordinary with my degree. Not to be disheartened, I thought I would try a different, less social skill reliant, approach.
I decided I’d attend as many sessions at the Careers Centre as I could to see if I could get some contacts or find something I could do outside of societies. I ended up going to quite a few sessions about studying/working in Japan. I had always wanted to go to Japan, and all the stories I heard from people that had been there really got me into the idea of actually going rather than just thinking it’d be a cool experience.
So I started looking around for ways to get to Japan. Initially, I thought I’d try to get an internship where they sent me to a language school for a month or so before I started working. Unfortunately a lot of them wanted me to pay around £2000, which was a bit more than I was hoping to spend. Instead I opted to just learn the language at a school. I stumbled across a company called Go! Go! Nihon which really helped me out with finding accommodation and the application to the language school.
Off I went on my first trip alone. I couldn’t really have picked anywhere further away from home or as different to home. I didn’t really suffer from last minute regret or anything like that, if anything I was incredibly excited as soon as I got through airport security. Once I landed in Japan I was really hit by how different the weather was, I had always been told England was pretty humid but honestly England doesn’t compare to Japan. Japan was like being hit in the face with a wet blanket because the air was so thick.
I had been pretty concerned with how I was going to get from Narita Airport to my house, since I didn’t really know how to read much Japanese, and most of what I did know wasn’t helpful for finding my way around. Thankfully, all the signs are written in English and colour coded, so even if you can’t read Japanese or English you could still find your way around if you knew what colours you are looking for.
When I got to the language school, I didn’t really know what to expect. However, what I found when starting school in a foreign country, is that you do meet lots of like minded people, since you definitely have to like something to be willing to move abroad to have that experience.
I can easily say my 2 months in Japan were the best 2 months of my life. I made so many friends and genuinely felt my self-confidence grow. I got to do so many things I never thought I would actually get to do, saw so many things I never thought I’d get to see, and met so many people that I am so glad I got to meet. I also now have something truly unique on my CV that makes me stand out from the crowd. So even if you might struggle socially, or even not really want to join any societies at university, there are plenty of things that you can do to make yourself more employable.
With Thanks to Sam James for contributing to the NBS Blog