Two years in Japan

9:30 PM Béné (ベネ) 0 Comments

2 years ago, day per day, I was just landing at Fukuoka's airport. Two years... Time flies and I feel like it was yesterday. I can see myself again, on September 19th in 2012, carrying my only suitcase in Fukuoka's streets, looking at the beautiful sunset while being surprised not to see so many people in the subway whereas it was peak-time. Lots of things have happened, and I have changed a lot. Let's take a look back together !

- First picture of Fukuoka / September 20th, 2012 -

Japan made me ... less shy !
Those who know me also know that I have always been extremely shy; to the point that I was mentally preparing myself just to go out or picking up the phone when it was ringing. I was unable to breathe whenever I was surrounded by people I barely knew. The first school day in Japan, I had to talk in front of my new teachers but I was so stressed out that it even made me cry.

Now, all of that is behind me. Thanks to my friends and teachers, I could go over my shyness. They've always pushed me and motivated me whenever I was standing back and afraid to do something.
 As a matter of fact, last November I posed for a local magazine (experience I'd love to renew), and in December, I have danced and sung in front of hundreds of people. Thing that would have been impossible for me to do the year before. My mother was extremely surprised as she still had this image of me being the 'little girl who was hiding behind the curtain during the dance show in first grade'

- Screenshot of ASO48 concert, Hakata Starlanes, December 2013 -

Japan helped me getting to know myself.
When I was younger and I was asked what I liked, I usually replied 'Japan'. Other than that I didn't really know what I actually liked. I thought a lot about it, asking myself 'what do I really like' 'what are my hobbies' and it was difficult to give a proper answer.When I think about it, I liked Idols for about 10 years. From September 2012 to October 2013, I have been an active member of the Hello!Project group (Morning Musume, °C-ute... etc). I cannot even tell you how many thousands of yen I have spent on concerts, goods, CDs.. I had so much fun meeting the singers, taking pictures with them, everything that I couldn't do when I was in France basically.
A year ago, I even went all the way to Tokyo, for less than 24 hours just to be able to go to the concert of my favourite Morning Musume! However I didn't have much fun this time and on the way back to Fukuoka I realised that spending so much money on that was just a waste.
Since then, I have decided to spend less money on goodies and go only to the events happening in my prefecture. Little by little, I just lost my interest and I don't even go to concerts any longer. Though I still like Idols, it would be hard for me to the fangirl I used to be.

Now, I am more interested in the traditional tea ceremony, the local cuisine of Kyushu island, Alice in Wonderland, themed coffee shops and restaurants, Japanese fashion, kawaii items (I love brands such as Q-Pot or Swimmer). Even my style has changed (I will get back on that later!) as well as my tastes for interior design! What a change!

- picture with the Morning Musume, May 2013 -

Japan gave me another outlook on friendship.
3 days after I arrived, I was part of a dance show (Odotte Mita) with some other members of the Hello!Project group and I got to know a lot of people. For the following year, I have been part of many other activities such as dance shows, karaoke nights, handshakes sessions, etc.
But as I previously mentioned, at this time, the interest I had for this world started to fade away. In the meanwhile, I was also very busy with the ASO48 and rehearsals were taking me all my free time, plus I just met my current boyfriend. Little by little I started to stop going to all meetings and events and the occasions to meet my Hello!Project friends became rare. Few of them were kind enough to come to the ASO48 concert, and after a last dance show in January, I have never seen any of them again.In Japan, people have a different and special view on friendship. There is a big difference between 'the Idols fans' friends and the 'real life' friends.
With the 'Idols fans' friends, we don't share our daily life as with the 'real life' friends, we don't talk about Idols. It's just the way it is, and since I'm not going to the 'Idols' meetings, the members of the group don't see me as a 'friend' anymore ...

Also, I am still in touch with few people from the language school I went (Aso College Group). Surprisingly, I am feeling closer to the people that weren't in my grade and that I didn't see that often, than the ones in my grade.I am now feeling like having French friends living in Fukuoka whereas when I arrived I was trying to avoid them.

 - Kyushu hatsu, recording of a dance show, odotte mita, January 2014 -

Japan changed the way I see my professional life.
As you may know, I am graphic designer and I love my job. It's not even a job, it's a passion.
18 months have passed since my previous job and the new one I just started in April. During these 18 months, I took a break from graphic design to focus on learning the Japanese language. And thanks to the ASO College Group, I have discovered the tourism industry. Now that I have been working for more than 6 months in a graphic design company where I create banners, I can tell you that seating on a chair for 8 hours a day is not what I want to do anymore.

Now I am thinking of many things I want to do : promoting my prefecture, helping other French people to come and study in Fukuoka or Kyushu area, so they can explore and fall in love with the south of Japan like I did. Of course, I'd still do some graphic work as a freelance. For now, I am stuck because of my visa status, but someday, if I'd ever get married here, I'd definitely give it a try in this industry!

Japan made me loose weight !

- September 2012 vs November 2013 -

When I arrived in Japan, I was around 65kg and I was unable to loose weight. In less than a year, my weight dropped down to 50kg. I even believe that when I was member of the ASO48, I weighted 47kg (should I also mention that I had daily 4 hours of dancing rehearsal?), and I didn't even pay attention to what I was eating. Whereas in France I was really careful about the food but couldn't loose any weight. Is the Japanese food better for me? Is it because of my daily bicycling sessions? No one knows.
Since I have started working, I'd like to allow some time to exercise again as I became addicted to it, I just don't know what kind of sport. Maybe some taiko, the Japanese drums!

Japan made me bilingual
Ok, this is not entirely true. But in 2 years, I have improved my language skills so much. I understand almost a 100% of what I hear in a daily conversation or on TV.
When I speak, I feel comfortable. Working in a Japanese company helps a lot and I don't make any mistake when I speak the formal language (keigo). My next goal is to be able to speak the Hakata-ben, the local dialect of Fukuoka; I do understand it but I am not so comfortable using it and also I want to reduce my French accent which is still too strong.

In terms of writing, my boyfriend keeps making fun of me by saying my kanjis look like children's ones, but I got better. As I now only use the PC or my iPhone to write, I probably have lost some of my skills, that's the reason why I bought children exercise textbooks so I can practise. As I have missed the N1 passing score by 15 points last year, my weakness being the reading part, I want to try it again next December of June.

- School event in honour to the best students of ASO College Group, February 2014 -

Japan just made me happy !
This is what matters right? I have finally found a place where I feel good. A great boyfriend, wonderful friends, a nice home, a job - well with ups and downs - but still, a job. I couldn't dream of a better life.

These past 2 years have been intense and brought a lot of changes. Japan taught me a lot. I changed, I grew up but in the end I am still the same girl who loves looking at rocks and walk around in cemeteries. Let's now see what will happen next...

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