Second Home

“I’ve been away from home for over 10 years. It’s kind of hard for me. I still have a connection with my family. But in order to live overseas you need to work. Money is important, but it’s not the most important thing. Staying here in Japan is my choice because it’s easy to live here. And I spent my youth mostly in Japan. So almost all of my close friends are here, which makes it extra hard to leave this country. For me it’s more than just a place to live, it’s my second home. Even when I go back to my hometown in Vietnam for vacation, I feel like I want to return to Japan right away because this is my “home”. I even turned down an offer to work in Singapore for a Japanese bank. They asked me why I would walk away from a high-paying job and I told them I’ve been in Japan for 8 years (at that time) and I couldn’t just leave. That’s when I realized Japan has become so important to me.”
chau-truc1“I’m Vietnamese. I came to Japan because I always wanted to study abroad. I went to a top university in Ho Chi Minh City but it didn’t feel like the right place for me, and I just wanted to study in a foreign language. Now I work in Tokyo. Actually, I just changed my job. I moved to a Japanese company that makes industrial machinery and does overseas sales. To be honest, it’s a job that’s not something I love but something I can do well. My company wants to use me as a bridge between them, a very traditional Japanese company, and customers overseas like from my home country. I’m multilingual, while 80 percent of coworkers don’t speak any foreign language so I guess that’s why they hired me. People say that I’m chatty and easy to talk to, which is also why this kind of job suits me. I just hope I can deliver.”

Homeward Bound

“After eight long years, I’ve decided to pack my bags and head back to Vancouver because I feel as though I will never go beyond being `the foreigner’ in Japan. Initially, I came to Japan as a game designer. But due to a high burnout rate and my inadequate Japanese, I taught English, instead. From here on, I’m going back to my creative roots, say maybe launch an indie studio.

“It’s going to be reverse culture shock though. I came to Japan as a child. When I got here, I was 22. I didn’t know how to do my laundry or pay my bills. I had to learn how to do all these grown-up stuff in Japan. I gotta learn the whole system again. So that’s what I’m gonna miss about Japan—being an independent adult.

“The fact that I can pay all my bills at a combini (convenience store) is magic. I don’t know how to pay my bills in Canada.

“I ask my friends, `How do you do it?’ and they’re like `online’. Yeah that teaches me nothing. Where I come from, banks and post offices close really early. Here, you can do everything from combinis. You buy a meal from 7-11 in Canada, you’re going to get food poisoning.”

Hiking Mt. Takao on a drizzly Sunday afternoon

“On a different note, the Japanese are good at reading situations and adjusting to social cues. So if you make an ass of yourself, no one will point it out, letting you to get away with a blunder scot-free. But at the same time, no one will point out or defend a poor girl from perverts on the train because they don’t want to stand out or make a fuss.”