South Korea / Educational foundation HOKKO GAKUEN 1.5 year Japanese course

Q. What do you think of the water in Higashikawa?

Even though it is said that you can drink tap water in Korea, not a lot of people drink tap water, so the most surprising thing that I found out was being able to drink tap water. I bought the bottled water for the first day but everyone was drinking tap water so I quit bringing bottled water from the next day.

Q. What was the first impression about Higashikawa, Hokkaido before entering the Japanese course? And also tell us what you think after you actually started living here.

I have been visiting Hokkaido a couple of times, especially my favorite places Furano and Biei for the past ten years. I did not know that there is a Japanese language school, which is located 20 minutes away from Biei, and 60 minutes away from Furano, until my friend from Tokyo found it from the website. There is no information about this on the Korean website so my friend found it from the Japanese website. It is close to Furano and Biei and also I wanted to go to Higashikawa, and that made me feel like going right away so I immediately applied for this school.

Since I have loved Japanese TV shows and I knew a little bit of Japanese, I could come to Japan without doing some preparation like studying Japanese. I love Japanese TV shows I may have watched all the shows from 2000 to 2005.

Q. Do you have any friends from other countries?

Most of them are from Mongolia, Thai, China, etc. I have made lots of friends since I came to Higashikawa.

Q. Do you have Japanese cellphone?

At first I thought I would be fine only with wifi but the professor said I would need it for the emergency use so I made a contract to buy a cellphone.

Q. Do you have any shops in Higashikawa you often go to?

I often use “Hokuren shop” and the bakery called “Mameya”. At Hokuren shop I purchase ingredients for lunch. The HUC card (local point card) has a point system, so I use the point to purchase things. The breads from Mameya are really delicious so I go there at 9 so I can get freshly baked breads. I love beans bread. Also I go to Okame shokudo. I go there for lunch and I can get full from large servings. I have a driver’s license so I sometimes drive to Asahikawa.

Q. How do you enjoy in Higashikawa?

I love countryside. Since I love nature, I fell in love with Furano and Biei, and I think it is great and livable place. The stores and the facilities are so unique that I love a lot of them. The nearby towns have great charms and I like it.

Q. Is there any activities in Higashikawa?

I have not experienced summer here, but I am planning to make a trip around Hokkaido by car. Driving in the winter is a little bit scary due to the snow, so I will do it during the summer vacation. In the winter I did snow trekking with the guide at Asahidake sugatami area in the Daisetsu mountain national park. You should try it at least once.

It is a shame that I am not into the winter sports like skiing and snowboarding even though I like snow. I drove to the Sounkyo to see the autumn leaves in October. It was a beautiful and wondrous view.

Q. Tell us about the business classes. And what did you learn from them?

I got invited by my friend to this business classes and became interested in it and I decided to attend them. I participate semimonthly (90 minutes each). I attended business classes so I could learn various things about Japan. I found out that Korea and Japan have some common in business etiquette. It is interesting for these common points.

Q. Do you have a part time job?

I work part time at the dining hall three times a week, three hours a day on the weekdays, eight hours a day on the weekends at Canmore ski village. I was surprised that the new years day was very busy, no matter how much I wash dishes it felt like it never ends, but I was living to the fullest. The funny story is I have to announce the meal ticket numbers because I work at the self-service restaurant. It was a busy day and I was suporsed to say “Thank you for waiting. Number OO Zangi don is ready.” but I said “Thank you for waiting. Zangi don has eaten itself. Thank you very much.” You may think it is funny but I was really embarrassed at the time.

I am doing really good at managing to study and working at the same time. I did not understand when customer’s order “ramen WITHOUT green onion”. I learned “without” from part time. I learn so many Japanese words while using them at work.

What's your plan after finishing the course?

I really do want to live in Higashikawa. Now I can stay at Higashikawa with my student visa but I have to go back home after graduation because it will be hard to get a visa due to my age even though I could be a full time employee. I have one and a half year of study abroad, but it has been four months. It feels like it is in the blink of an eye. Because I only can stay one more year in Japan, it feels like the days are going by faster lately and I feel like treasuring each day.