NGUYEN BA MINH HIEN (Hien)

Vietnam / Higashikawa Japanese Language School / 1.5 year course

DINH THI HONG (Hong)

Vietnam / Higashikawa Japanese Language School / 1 year course

Q. Tell us about the weather in Higashikawa. Did you get used to the cold?

Hien: It snows a little bit at the mountain area (northern area) in Vietnam. I was living in southern area so it is over 24 degrees throughout the year. I have never experienced this cold but I did not feel really cold even when it is negative 20 degrees.

I do not like the summer because it is going to be 30 degrees and hot. I like the snowy winter. It is warm inside of the dorm so I wear short sleeve shirts. Everyone wears long sleeve shirts though.

Hong: I have never experienced the negative 20 degrees in Vietnam and I did not expect that I could get through it but I realized it is not that cold here. I was expecting more but I am okay. For the very first time it snowed in Higashikawa, I was so happy like “snow is beautiful. White things are falling from the sky.” When it is raining in the summer you will get wet but in the winter do not need umbrella for the fluffy snow. I love the winter!

I have not been there yet but I heard it will be no humidity in the summer so I am looking forward to the summer.

Q. Did you have a culture shock?

Hien: The thing I got confused about is the curfew. I have to be back at the dorm at 22:30 and it is hard.

Hong: We have lots of cultural differences but I do not have any problems with it. But I got confused about the rule for separating the garbage. In Vietnam, we can take out burnable trashes, unburnable trashes, cans, and bottles all together so I was surprised about how particular it is in Japan. At work, we have to separate new papers and old papers.

Q. Do you have any friends from other countries? Where are they from?

Hien: I made friends with classmates from Thailand and Taiwan right after I started to study here.

Hong: I made friends immediately. I can be friends with people from different countries. I have never had a trouble making friends. There are some exchange students from Vietnam and we are friends now.

Q. How do you enjoy Higashikawa?

Hien: During the winter and spring I went to the Shinrin park and climbed to the observation platform. In the spring I took a bike, and in the winter I walked from the dorm. When I went there in the spring the view was beautiful from the observation platform, and I wanted to see the winter view so I went there with my friends. It takes an hour to get there from the dorm.

Hong: I went to the outlook area at the Daisetsu mountain national park Asahidake by the Asahidake ropeway! I was moved when I saw the snowflakes clearly in the winter. I was surprised that there were lots of kinds of snowflake shapes. Also it took an hour to make a snowman at the snowmen experience! It was fun. For the first time it was snowing we jumped into the snow with short sleeve shirts and had fun!

Q. Is there any must-do activities?

Hong: I think you have to go to the outlook area at the Daisetsu mountain national park Asahidake. You can find the beautiful view throughout the year. In the winter the snowy view is beautiful, and in the spring and summer you can see the beautiful Asahidake. You should visit there in the summer. Making snowmen at the Kori matsuri is also fun! There are lots of things you can only experience here like the snow and temperature, so you should try out everything. When it went below negative 15 degrees, we blew soap bubbles. They got hard and the snowflakes appeared on them and it was magical. I highly recommend it.

Q. How were the business classes? What did you learn from them?

Hien: I found about this classes from the bulletin board. I am taking these business skill management classes so I can open the pho restaurant in Higashikawa. I am leaning the geographical conditions and the skills of opening the shop.

Hong: I am not sure I want to work in Japan yet but I am taking these business etiquette classes just in case I decided to work here. I am learning some business terminology and etiquette so I can give myself an advantage.

Q. These business classes are in Japanese but is there any Japanese words you do not understand?

Hien: I understand almost everything so I am good.

Hong: Yes there is a little. I take notes of some terminologies and I search them up at the dorm or I ask my friends. I understand most of all the words.

Q. Do you have a part time job?

Hong: I work at the book store in front of the Asahikawa station on weekdays and weekends. My work provides me the travel cost so I use the bus. Working in japan is good for learning Japanese and working experiences. I have worked in Vietnam but the system is different. Part time in japan has a manual to study before you start working. In Vietnam, they do not have a manual so you can work immediately. Japanese working environment requires manuals, customer service, and especially polite expressions like honorifics. Vietnam does not require honorifics. That is the big difference.

Q. What's your plan after finishing the course?

Hien: My goal is to have a store in Higashikawa. I love Hokkaido, so I am thinking about working at a company in Hokkaido. I am not a fan of crowded places like Tokyo so I want to have a pho restaurant here.