Corina: From no Japanese to working in a Japanese company
Corina is studying at Coto since she arrived in Japan last year. She shared her experience working here in Tokyo and studying Japanese.
Corina originally came to Japan from Australia after a visit four years ago that piqued her interest in the country. She describes Tokyo as, “a beautiful city, a tech haven, full of amazing people, food and culture.”
What was your level of Japanese when you arrived compared to now?
I had zero knowledge of Japanese. The only words I knew were ‘Konnichiwa’ and ‘Sayonara’ but thanks to taking the Part Time course I’m now able to hold basic conversations relating to daily life such as ordering food at a restaurant, asking for directions etc.
How have you been able to use the Japanese you learn in school in your daily life?
I work part-time as a tour guide and part of my job is to order food for my clients in Japanese – attending Coto’s lessons have really helped me improve my language skills. I love that everything I’ve learnt at Coto can be applied to real-life situations once I’ve left the classroom.
Do you have a few funny stories resulting from your Japanese level to share?
I once thought I bought milk from a convenience store but ended up with yoghurt. My cereal tasted funny. Now, I don’t have this problem as I can read hiragana and make a point of double checking the packaging whenever I need milk.
What is something that surprised you when you first arrived in Japan?
The public transportation system is incredibly efficient and that people are incredibly polite and considerate. The advertising is also hilarious.
What’s your best tip for anyone thinking about moving to Japan?
Learn some key phrases in Japanese, it will really help you navigate around. Also, attend as many meetup events as you can – you never know who you’ll meet along the way that will become important to you either personally or professionally.
Do you use Japanese at work?
Yes, when it’s required – our company has both foreign and Japanese staff, there are times when we need to converse with each other. Hand gestures work when Japanese vocab is lacking.
The sales team tend to communicate in Japanese – our Project Manager is bilingual and is the liaison between both our teams. Once she gathers the requirements from sales, she shares this information with me and I help translate these into specification documents and work closely with the developers to build solutions for our customers.
What are some of the challenges you have with trying to find work here?
It can be really difficult to find jobs that are outside of the ‘teaching English’ realm if you only have limited Japanese. That’s where networking is important.
What are some of the interesting aspects working for a Japanese company compared with your home country?
The culture and environment are different – I’m always learning things and not specifically related to the job role. For instance, the Japanese are huge fans of warm weather. Our office is always warm, to the point that some of my foreign colleagues wear t-shirts in the office in order to acclimatise to the change in temperature from being outside.
I too, wear layers in the office just in case I need to adjust my personal thermostat to my liking. Last week my colleague mentioned that it felt like a heatwave in the office due to others changing the thermostat often (the air conditioner directly hits him).