[Interview] Study in Kyoto with Keith
Age is just a number. You can always pursue your dreams at all age as long as you are happy with what you do. Keith, who is from Malaysia, and finally had the opportunity to study in Japan at the late 20s. He came to us, and we assisted him with the application of studying in Japan last March and graduated in September. Here’s his interview about studying in Kyoto with our live and study in Japan service.
Tell us about your background? (where are you from, how many languages do you speak, what’s your latest education background)?
I’m a 28-year old Malaysian living in Brisbane, Australia (before coming to Japan). I came to Brisbane 8 years ago as a student, which I eventually graduated, and worked (IT field) in this city too. As a Malaysian, most of us are multilingual and hence, I can speak English, Mandarin, Malay, Cantonese, and Hokkien.
Since you’ve studied in Australia for 6 years, what are the cultural differences between your country, Australia, and Japan?
For Malaysia, I would say it’s the multiculturalism. As most non-Malay Malaysians are already 2nd/3rd generation immigrants, the different cultures have been assimilated in our daily lives. This isn’t as apparent as Australia, as most of the non-natives are fresh-immigrants. Hence, although there are plenty of different cultures in Australia, it isn’t as assimilated compared to Malaysia. As for Japan, I would think that it’s still a very closed-off country, where migrants are quite rare in itself, hence the lack in foreign cultures. However, this is what makes Japan such a unique country with rich cultures of its own.
Preparation for Japan
Why did you choose to study in Japan?
I liked Japanese manga and anime since I was young. From that, it grew into interests in Japanese history, culture, and mannerism. Because of that, I wanted to learn the language and also experience the Japanese lifestyle in more depth. Hence my decision to come and study in Japan.
What was the biggest challenge when you first arrived in Japan?
Definitely the language barrier. With me not being able to speak any Japanese at all, and with Japanese’s poor command of English, communicating often results in deciphering hand signals and body languages. Translation applications help a bit, but it can only do so much. Nevertheless, Japanese are very patient and helpful, so this really alleviates my stress while communicating with them.
Living in Japan
What is the most attractive thing about studying in Kyoto?
The richness of the history and culture here in Kyoto is the main point that caught my interest. However, the more time I spend living in Kyoto, the more hidden gems I found. Apart from the abundance of shrines and temples here (which one may eventually get tired of), I particularly enjoy wandering around aimlessly in the city. The tiny local stores along the small streets are the places where one can experience authentic Japanese hospitality. I also find the Kansai/Kyoto dialect (Kansai-ben/Kyoto-ben) particularly interesting, as they are different from the ones we usually hear on the media (which is generally Kanto/Tokyo dialect).
How has your impression of Kyoto changed since you came here?
Yes, there were more tourists that I’ve expected. But to be honest, as I’ve never been to Japan before, I’ve kept an open mind before coming to Kyoto. Hence, I wouldn’t say that my impressions of Kyoto have changed in any manner.
What was the biggest take away after living and studying in Kyoto?
As Kyoto used to be the capital city of Japan, I learned a lot about the history and culture of this city and country. I also get to experience the Japanese lifestyle and the extent of the kindness of the people here too. Even with Kyoto as one of the leading tourist destination, the generosity of the locals did not waver even while facing with foreigners who did not abide or understand their culture. My biggest takeaway from Kyoto (or Japan in general) would be to be nice and extend your kindness to strangers. Not only you will gain satisfaction through that, but the people affected by you will also be a lot happier too.
How did you feel about the service that Kawa Kawa Learning Studio provide?
Great! Detailed information and constant communication were provided during the course of the application until a few weeks after I arrived and settled down in Japan. I highly recommend it.
Message to students in your home country thinking about study abroad?
Just do it. You won’t regret it, as it will be a very memorable experience.