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so I want to come to Japan too but...

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Hello!

Yes, I am just another girl who dreams of Japan. Now I feel that I'm stucked and need a little bit of help, an honest advice which would lead me to the right path. OK, so, in order to understand better what my problem is, let me tell you my story first.

My passion for Japan's culture and civilisation started back when I was in the 6th grade and I've seen the famous anime "Sailor Moon". I was a regular kid who read a lot and dreamed a lot too. Unortunately I wasn't too confident so I have never pursued my dream until now. I've finished high-school (philology - English intensive) and went to the Faculty of Letters where I have majored in Philology too (Romanian language and literature). I was a Romanian language teacher for 12-14 year old children but only for 1 year because the income was not enough to move out from my parents house. So I have done a Master of Management and marketing of banking activities and got a job as Administrative Officer at a bank where I was in charge of the procurement and logistics (so you can say that I was basically an advanced secretary...). The bank closed its Romanian branch so now I am working from home for an American company as a Customer Advocate, helping their customers over the phone and chat. I had to take an English test and a phone interview in order to work here. They have told me that I scored C1 at the English test, not sure how good or bad this is, but it was good enough to hire me I guess.

OK, so maybe you are wondering what happened with my passion for Japan all this time? Well... I am ashamed to tell you that I never thought I will be able to go there and to be good enough to follow my dream. Since I was a quite poor kid I didn't afford buying Japanese textbooks (there are only 3 Romanian-Japanese textbooks anyway...) and I was able to buy my PC after I started working so I have lost a lot of time. I might have gone to an English-Japanese College you might say. Yes, you are right, except I didn't think I was smart enough to pass the exams... Little by little, as the time went by, my passion for Japan, instead of fading, started burning more and more. The top was reached this year when I inherited some money which allowed me to visit Japan. So I have spend the happiest 10 days of my life this spring visiting Tokyo and Kyoto, a trip I have planned all by myself to the tiniest detail. Now I am craving to go back but I don't know how...

My first though was to apply for a Master Scholarship but next year in spring I will be 31 and I feel that time is running out for me on that quest since there are Universities who accept candidates under 34 years old. I am affraid of being refused for being too old... Plus, my field of study would be related to Literature (was thinking to study Japanese fairy tales actually :D ) and I am affraid that won't look too appealing either... OK, so I have a big confidence issue, don't I?...

Another option to go to Japan would be to work there. Easier said than done because I am not from an English speaking country, I don't have an English certificate (I would say that my English level is advanced but never had it tested...), my Japanese level is beginner, I am also a Spanish beginner and I was a French intermediate but now I think I am an upper beginner to say so. Anyway, I don't have any specific skills, I'm good at everything and not good at anything in particular... At least this is how I see myself at this point. Therefore I can't imagine what job I will be able to get there...

I wish I could be able to live in Japan for some years and find out if it will suit me to stay there forever or I don't fit there and should return home. Why I want to go to Japan? Well, unfortunately I can't give you a straight answer to that... It's just a feel attracted to everything related to Japan without a logical explanation. It's like it is in my destiny to go there if you want to say that. I honestly felt at home when I have visited it so I would like to experience that feeling more.

All right, hoping you were patient enough to read all that novel I've wrote so far, what would you advise me to do? Where should I start and what steps I should follow in order to fulfill my dream? I need a realistic "combat plan" so any ideas would be much appreciated! By the way, I am prepared to make any sacrifice I have to and wait as long as it takes in order to achieve that. Don't spare me of the truth, it is better to know what are my chances from the start so I won't live a dream and get up in a nightmare.

Thak you so much for your patience!!!
 
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Get a degree or skill in extremely high demand and which is very difficult to find.

Get your Japanese to a very high level so you can do that job in Japan.
 

fujidreams

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Dear Sorana, I understand your ambition and would like to help. Please allow me a few days and I will compile some ideas for you.

Best Wishes from Tokyo,
Steffen
 

fujidreams

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Dear Sorana,

Hello once again. I have reflected on your challenge and offer the following thoughts. First of all, while you may feel that you are facing difficulties, I personally believe it is a gift to have a dream and life goal. Considering how long you have held your interest in Japan, I have no doubt that you can realize your dream as long as you apply consistent efforts and take a long term perspective.

As you might know, Japan is facing a labor shortage that will only grow worse over the coming years. The population is aging at a rate that is unprecedented in other countries, due to the low birth rate and tendency for the younger generation to get married later or even avoid marriage altogether. Furthermore the workforce increasingly lacks the skills to make meaningful contributions in companies that are looking outside of Japan to grow their businesses. While I admit it is not easy for someone in your position to find a sustainable means of living here, I am confident that it is possible.

As I am sure you are aware, Tokyo was selected to host the Summer Olympics in 2020. This is generating a boom in the capital city across a number of industries, including construction, transportation, entertainment, and tourism. Preparing the city for this monumental event and marketing it effectively to the world must bring unlimited, albeit time bound, opportunities. While I don't have any concrete information, there must be a need for your skills and efforts as it relates to Romania's participation in the games. Equally true for Romanian citizens observing the games, either by traveling to Japan or from remotely. Even if you don't get involved with anything directly related with the Olympics, the subsequent economic conditions are worth considering.

I understand your feeling that you have at once lots of skills and no skills. Having worked in Human Resources for a number of years, I can assure you that the vast majority of job seekers think they have one handicap or another. Perceived shortcomings can include lack of experience in XX, too much experience in XX, no degree in XX, overqualified in XX, too short, too shy, too aggressive in personality, and etc. As we established above, Japan needs your contribution and it is now a matter of your figuring out how to deliver it - despite your worries about how you compare to others.

Having said this, I would be lying if I told you that Japanese language skills do not matter. As an 18 year resident of this country with perhaps "intermediate" speaking skills and limited writing ability, I can tell you that being fluent in the language is a differentiator. All Japanese study English over the course of their Junior High and High School education, but communicative ability in the language remains the exception to the rule. Perhaps you experienced this first hand during your visit this past Spring. Japanese is the language of business on the vast majority of cases. As a result, my first piece of advice is for you to build your proficiency as much as possible. There are many free resources available to you which require only a computer with an internet connection and your dedicated time. If you need recommendations, I am happy to refer you to some online sources.

So with the above background in mind, and assuming you have some sense about what you are good at and enjoy doing, here are some ideas which come to mind for you to start to generate leads and build a plan that will lead you to your goal.

First of all, let's go back to the point about Japanese companies expanding globally. One option might be for you to get a position at a subsidiary operation of a Japanese company either in your own country or in a country closer to home to which you can have access. This may lead to an assignment in Japan or at least some travel opportunities. To find such companies, doing some targeted searching on Google would be a good place to start. Another source of initial leads could be the Japanese embassy in Romania, or even the Romanian embassy in Japan. The respective governments would at least be able to refer to you trade associations that would in turn be able to identify potential leads. Once you have a target list of companies, you can approach them for possible opportunities even if they are not advertising open positions.

Building your connection with Japan via your home country may be the safest route, but I also understand it doesn't get you to your goal so quickly. A second idea is contacting your country's embassy in Tokyo, or at least looking at their website, to see what leads are available. Perhaps this will help you connect with individuals, organizations, or support groups in Japan that would be able to give you more information. I have met other Romanian citizens in Japan before, so I am reasonably confident that there are others before you who have already done what you hope to accomplish. You should find some of these people and see what you can learn from them.

Volunteer organizations is another route to consider. Certainly the aftermath of the great Tohoku earthquake in March 2011 continues to be felt, and I believe there are non-profit organizations which continue to provide relief. Many 1,000's of people remain displaced from their former homes including the elderly and children who have lost their family. Finding a way to join the effort to support them may be a little challenging from your remote location but not impossible for sure.

I could go on, but this has grown into quite a long response so will close. As a long-term resident of Japan, I do appreciate sincerely your passion for this country. If you are so inclined to stay in contact, please look me up on my new blog, which I have recently started as a side hobby: http://yourfujidreams.com. With only 3 posts, it doesn't yet have much to offer but you will find my social networking accounts in any case.

All the best to you in your continuing journey.

- Steffen
 
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Steffen wrote:
I have met other Romanian citizens in Japan before, so I am reasonably confident that there are others before you who have already done what you hope to accomplish. You should find some of these people and see what you can learn from them.
You are very positive, yet you haven't described what those citizens had in common with the OP, or whether the people you met were just tourists work residents here. For the sake of argument, I'll assume residents, but you really ought to clarify that.

Even if they were residents, you assume a lot and give the OP (perhaps false) hope when we don't know enough details. For all we know, maybe those citizens were married to Japanese!
 
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Hello! I don't have words to thank you all enough for paying attention to my post!!! I feel I'm not alone and that brings me a lot of confidence. : ) I will push myself as hard as I can to get my Japanese level higher (thank you WonkoTheSane), I am careful to not make false hopes (thank you Glenski) and I will research the oportunities Steffen was so kind to explain is such a detailed post!

Here are my free learning materials that I was able to find on the internet (I have posted them here if somebody else would need them, I hope they are OK for learning Japanese):

Dictionaries: http://tangorin.com/ & http://www.wordreference.com/enja/eat
Learning sites: http://www.yesjapan.com/ & https://www.erin.ne.jp/en/
Grammar: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/ & http://www.memrise.com/courses/english/japanese/ & http://www.mlcjapanese.co.jp/
Practice: http://www.renshuu.org/ & http://www.realkana.com/hiragana/
Listening: http://www.fujisankei.com/ & http://blog.fmokinawa.co.jp/repose/podcast/ & http://newsinslowjapanese.com/
downloaded PDF:
Nihongo Sou Matome N1 to N5 (all books)
Genki I & II (course, workbook, audio)
Oxford Japanese Grammar & Verbs
Everyday listening in 50 days vol. 1 & 2
Chino All About Particles
Minna no Nihongo I & II
Basic Kanji Book 1 & 2

I am learning Japanese all by myself because there isn't a a Japanese school in my town and I don't afford an online course at the moment. I am aware that alone I might be able to achieve a good writing, reading and understanding but I will lack on speaking so... I am using Lang-8 for inquiries and I already made a Japanese friend. : ) She is a very nice person and I am grateful she finds herself time to talk to me.

I will try to gather the money I need for the master scholarship, learn Japanese as much as I can, apply for the scholarship until I won't be eligible to do that, research the job oportunities you advised me and keep my hopes up! Thank you so very much!!! :)
 
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I've finished high-school (philology - English intensive) and went to the Faculty of Letters where I have majored in Philology too (Romanian language and literature). I was a Romanian language teacher for 12-14 year old children but only for 1 year...
My first though was to apply for a Master Scholarship but next year in spring I will be 31 and I feel that time is running out for me on that quest since there are Universities who accept candidates under 34 years old. I am affraid of being refused for being too old... Plus, my field of study would be related to Literature (was thinking to study Japanese fairy tales actually...
Therefore I can't imagine what job I will be able to get there...
Neither can I, and that is a major problem you need to resolve.
 
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Thank you Glenski for pointing out the major issues I have in my background. In order to fix some of them I thought I should do the following:

- start with JLPT N5 and move up as far as I can (best case scenario I will reach N1 in five years),
- get an English certificate (I wonder which one will be more popular in Japan: IELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC?...),
- maybe do a TESOL course or another English teaching course since I was a teacher even for such a short period (I was thinking that would strengthen a little my weak points)
- choose another field for the master scholarship which will be more appealing (except here I got stuck because I can't choose a science related subject...)

From what it looks like, this would be a long quest that can last for several years. I don't have a problem with that but I am affraid that I've missed my chance already...
 
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I'd highly recommend that you focus on getting into a field you'll love instead of one which will get you to Japan. Being exceptional at almost anything will open all sorts of doors.

The only sure way to miss your chance is to not take the chance.
 
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Sorana,
Why are you focusing on learning more English and perhaps even being an English teacher? For people like yourself, teaching English is teaching it as a second or foreign language to yourself, and the visa regulations state that you would need years of experience doing that before you get the visa here. If you absolutely insist on getting a certificate, TOEIC would be preferable in Japan for employers, while TOEFL is preferable for school entrance.

choose another field for the master scholarship which will be more appealing (except here I got stuck because I can't choose a science related subject...)
Why choose science in the first place? Nothing of what you wrote so far (your desires or experience) has any connection to the sciences.
 
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Thank you WonkoTheSane, you are absolutely right!

Glenski, I was thinking that an English certificate might open more doors for me. I don't insist in having one, if it doesn't help my case. Thank you for pointing out which ones are preferable in Japan!

Exactly, nothing of what I've wrote so far has any connection to the sciences! I've seen that sciences are more appealing now and I am stuck on which subject to choose for the master scholarship in order to have a better chance of success because I suppose studying Japanese fairy tales won't win against "how to make buildings more safe against earthquakes". I don't want to choose science, I am not able to choose it anyway, I'm just thinking what subject at my disposal will have a better chance in the scholarship race...
 
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I'm just thinking what subject at my disposal will have a better chance in the scholarship race...
The one you love and speak about with passion and deep insight! Believe it or not, scholarship committees actually want to know that you're interested and committed to the field they're paying you to study.

Not to mention that at the end, if you hate Japan or find you're not able to stay, at least you won't have wasted years studying a subject you really don't care about and won't further your life.
 
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Thank you so much WonkoTheSane for encouraging me to give my best into the field I am passionate about!

You are absolutely right, sometimes I am so concerned about the details that I fail to see the big picture...

Thank you all for all the time and effort you've put trying to help me!!! I appreciate it a lot! :)
 
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