Perhaps it’s Something I Said?

About a week ago, I did a one-day job for the city of Nagasaki tourism…association? department?  Look, it was really cool whatever it was.  Aaaaand I ended up on tv, but I’ll get to that in a minute. xp


My school sent out an application for a job “accepting 3 students from Gaidai (my university; aka “Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies”) from intermediate or advanced Japanese levels.”  I had no idea what it was at first, but I signed up anyway.  It turns out that the city of Nagasaki is hoping to host training camps for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, so they’re expecting a huge surplus in tourists in coming years.  Therefore, I was part of a group of 12 foreign exchange students (English-speaking, Korean-speaking, and Chinese-speaking) who were sent out to evaluate whether or not there was enough of our respective languages to be understood by tourists from our respective countries (also checking for mistakes and providing suggestions to improve the sites in general) at tourist sites around Nagasaki.

We all met up at Nagasaki Station (about 20 minutes from my house by streetcar; and by that I actually mean 35 minutes because it takes me 15 to walk to the streetcar stop first xp) in one big group (Emily and Nick also came from Gaidai).  However, we almost immediately split into two groups (I also figured out why they insisted only higher level Japanese students could do this job; the explanations were entirely in Japanese and the coordinator didn’t speak English at all, in fact, she was Chinese).  I was part of a group with a Korean student (his name was Yan), two Taiwanese students (the guy’s name was “John” or Xiao Yu Wen, but I didn’t catch the girl’s name), and two Chinese students (Wang Chen and Fei Cuixia) who were all from Chodai (aka”Nagasaki University”).

It was a crazy hectic but really fun day.  I really hit it off with Fei as well.  She spoke Japanese, English, and Chinese, so we had a ton of fun talking and joking with each other the whole time.  (I thought it was going to be a really serious job, but even the coordinator didn’t care that we were goofing around as long as we were taking notes about the places we were going to).  She’s the first person I’ve talked to who really doesn’t mind if I start my sentence in English and switch to Japanese halfway through or vice versa (which is good, because I accidentally do that a lot now xD).  She even taught me a little Chinese.  We wanted to fit three languages into one sentence, so we said, “たぶん一起hangout” or “tabun yiqi hangout” which means “probably (Japanese) together (Chinese) hangout (English, obviously xp).”  Then we bonded over lunch because we both ordered Indian food that was way too spicy for us and shared a huge pitcher of water and a package of tissues.  (I was wondering the whole time if she is from the same place as Ryou though because the resemblance between their reactions and facial expressions is uncanny O.o;  she almost seemed like a female Ryou).

Anyway, so we went around Glover Garden and Kosuda Dock (I think that’s what it was called) to check the availability of English, Chinese, and Korean.  Glover Garden was fine, I had been there before, but there really isn’t much English.  Kosuda was more of a problem.  When we arrived there, we couldn’t even find it at first, even our coordinator didn’t know where we were going.  Once we actually found it, there was a tv crew waiting for us.  Oh dear. O.O(In our group, there were six people; out of us, the Korean student was the best at Japanese, I was second best and everyone else was at more or less the same level….except for Wang Chen, who barely spoke any Japanese at all).  So, there was basically nothing at this dock except a sign that said something to the effect of “use this wi-fi hotspot.”…..and that’s it.  All the information about why this place is important was provided through a digital pamphlet kinda thing.  It was reeeeally weird though.  The tv people interviewed the Korean guy….then they came over to me with one of those microphones that they dangle above you while you talk…and asked me what I thought about the digital pamphlet and the “future of tourism”  (all in Japanese of course).  I don’t even have a phone…I was borrowing Fei’s phone, and I had no idea what the place we were at even was…That was fun, being recorded while desperately trying to read some of the information quickly so I could give a halfway intelligible response.  I think I just rambled something about how technology is moving forward and that kind of digital pamphlet was useful for the future and it was easy to use and understand and stuff…(when I told Okaasan that I had been interviewed when I got home, she immediately turned on the tv, and lo and behold, about ten minutes later I appeared on Japanese tv for about 20 seconds with subtitles and everything [everyone, even news casters and interviewees are always given Japanese subtitles while they speak Japanese]).  Fei thought it was hilarious.

After that, we all went back to an office building together to have a meeting where each of our two groups gave a presentation to everyone about our findings and suggestions.  The Korean guy and I were the only ones who knew enough Japanese to give an unscripted presentation in it, so we did ours together.  But (this is where things got interesting) here was the breakdown of our group: there was Yan who spoke Japanese and Korean; “John” who spoke Chinese, English, and Japanese; the taiwanese girl who spoke Chinese and Japanese; Fei who spoke Chinese, English, and Japanese; Wang Chen who spoke Chinese and English; and me who speaks Japanese and English.  So, here’s the problem: Fei, John, and Wang Chen’s English was much better than their Japanese, but the Korean guy (you know, the most skilled Japanese-speaker in our group) only spoke Korean and Japanese, so during the presentation, they would tell me what they wanted to add in English and I would have to try to explain it in Japanese to the Korean guy so he could address the room with the more formal, accurate version of what I was trying to say (my Japanese is mostly casual Japanese and I don’t know a lot of really big words).  This is all happening while we’re standing in front of an audience which is basically like a corporate meeting, by the way.  My brain was so confused from hearing English and speaking in Japanese that once when Wang Chen said something for me to relay from English to Japanese for the Korean guy, I turned to the Korean guy and started my sentence with “The…” (which is really obviously English) and everyone burst into laughter.

Yup.  That was embarrassing.

And of course, a few of my classmates from school….and my teacher also saw me in my brief appearance on tv….the embarrassment continues… (I think one of my classmates actually filmed it. O.O

Overall, it was a ton of fun  and a good experience though.  I can safely say that that was one of my favorite days I’ve had here so far.  I felt like I had come so far with my Japanese (I was so proud that I understood practically everything that was said =) ) and I was actually doing a job here and doing it well.  Hooray for finally feeling like an adult!

Have a great Christmas everyone! ❤

One thought on “Perhaps it’s Something I Said?

  1. Hi Rebeccah,
    We love hearing all about your fun times in Japan. WOW! Even being on TV! Now that’s impressive! Grandpa and I are thinking about you and wishing you a very Merry Christmas. 🙂
    Love you,


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