It has been awhile since i last posted as i have been busy settling down back in Melbourne, Australia after i came back from exchange in Tokyo, Japan. I recently came back from Japan and i would like to share a few thoughts on my exchange experience in Japan. Firstly, i found it to be an extremely worthwhile and eye opening experience and of course my Japanese language skills improved vastly in Japan. I also found the Japanese people to be kind and helpful and really got to know some Japanese on a personal level. I grew to like the Japanese as previously i always viewed them as a monolithic group without individuality (as i am sure most foreigners do) but came to realise that Japanese people had individual personalities and characteristics . One example was of this bakery lady who must have been in her 50s or more who engaged in friendly conversation with me despite my poor Japanese skills and she was really dramatic with hand gestures and all and was really bubbly completely unlike the conventional image of the quiet demure Japanese lady.
I also found the Japanese to be really kind and helpful due to a few experiences i had in Japan. For example, they would always say sorry すみません ごめんなさい whenever they passed by from behind on their bikes or when i made way for them which really impressed me as there wasn't a need in my opinion to say sorry....Further on many occasions when i was lost and asked for directions in English, they would always help me despite language barriers and my poor Japanese. Even when some were hesitant at first when i approached them as they may have thought i was some bad guy or something, they eventually lightened up when they knew i was lost. There was even this guy who first attempted to evade me and moved away but felt guilty or something and came back asking what i needed and this other time at Keio when this really cold guy gave a scowl and said he was busy when he heard me speak english and then later another japanese guy helped me find the place i wanted to go and the scowl guy who had rejected me earlier must have seen the kindness of the other guy when i bumped into him later the same day, apologised to me and admitted he was being too cool and unfriendly and asked if i needed help!! This all greatly improved my image of Japan though i would say not all my friends and classmates thought the same way...many complained about the Japanese fakeness and unfriendliness which i cannot relate to given my nice experiences with the Japanese.
All in all ,my image of Japan and the Japanese has improved though the rubbish Japanese media with its biased reporting regarding Japanese WW2 issues did affect my nice image of Japan.
I am definitely planning to return to Tokyo to stay for longer like 1,2 yrs after my brief exchange experience although that would have to be after i graduate from melbourne university. I'll miss so many things of tokyo till then like the izakayas 居酒屋 and its unique food, the japanese desserts like rice balls in red bean soup 白玉洗剤, iced mango drink at Excelsior Cafe, ramen, the convenience of tokyo and the bright lights of shinjuku, shibuya, etc....Till I return , さようなら......日本