So why Japan? This is a question I get asked countless times, from both Japanese and non-Japanese people. It is a difficult question to answer, since my coming to Japan wasn’t driven by just one aspect of the country.
I suppose my first real exposure to anything Japanese was in the form of video games. I have a specific childhood memory of finishing one of the early Pokémon games and taking notice of the foreign-looking names in the end credits. Although I didn’t know very much about Japan at the time, I knew it was the country where the wonderful people making my favourite video games had come from, hence I already considered it special.
I was exposed to Japan in a significant way, once again, whilst I was living abroad in my mother’s country of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Me and all the rest of my classmates were invited to visit the Japanese embassy in Sarajevo on a school trip. I had an eye-opening experience drinking Japanese tea for the first time, and having my name written in Japanese calligraphic style on rice paper. I took the sheet home and hung it proudly in my room, appreciating the vertically-written セルマ for months in total. It wasn’t long before I had memorised the shapes of my name in katakana perfectly.
In the period between my teenage years and young adulthood, I continued to discover even more aspects of Japanese culture that I became fond of. Finally, on my 20th birthday, I got a seven-day trip to Tokyo as a birthday present. After a whirlwind experience of visiting attractions, eating new food, and shopping, there was only one thing that I was sure of by the end of the trip. I knew that the seven days in Tokyo were not enough, and that I had to live in Japan one way or another.
Now, I’ve been living in Osaka for little more than a year! I’m loving everything about my new life here in Japan, including my wonderful job at OEC. As somebody who grew up hearing and speaking three languages (English, Serbo-Croatian, and Turkish), I think I have a unique understanding of languages compared to a typical monolingual speaker. In addition, I am also learning Japanese, so I can understand much of the differences between Japanese and English grammar. Believe me, it’s not only you who is frustrated!
I hope you enjoy attending my lessons and learning more about British culture with me. In particular, if you are planning to visit London sometime soon (my hometown), I can give you a lot of recommendations on which places are best to visit.