The writing and conversation exams weren’t as bad as I thought they would be. It turned out that we could use what we had written beforehand and just copy everything over in class. I’m glad K-san pointed that out to me, or else I would have been totally screwed.
Part of the whole Yamasa experience is learning how they do things here. There’s so much they do here that’s just not how I’m used to doing things, and sometimes the details that everyone just sort of “knows” can slip by a newbie like me.
I really have to ask even more questions than I normally ask!
Fortunately, the conversation exam was pretty much the same as we had practiced in class. I decided to raise the politeness level a bit, and use some of the business Japanese knowledge I have picked up here. I made a couple of mistakes, but overall I think I did okay.
Regardless of test scores, I know that my speaking and writing ability have improved a great deal over the last month of class. Class here is intense, and every day feels like a week of Japanese compared to when I took it in grad school. I wish I had more time and money to spend more than just three months here, but that’s life. I’m trying to wring as much out of this experience as I can, both in polishing my Japanese, gaining marketable skills, and enjoying being here.
One of the lessons I have learned many times over in life is to enjoy things while I can, because I can never take for granted that “Oh, it’ll always be there, so I can just go back.” Sadly, the world is not that predictable.
There’s a Right and a Wrong Way To Open a Door.
Today’s JBPP class was on “How to Conduct Yourself in a Job Interview.”
There’s a whole pile of social knowledge tied into how to open doors, when and where to bow, how to sit, where to put your hands, where to look, all of that. It’s somewhat stressful, because there’s so much to keep straight without one’s head exploding.
Yes, there is a right way to open a door, and a wrong way to do it, down to the number of times you knock. Even approaching and sitting down in the interviewee’s chair is a task that is fraught with peril. For example, never, ever, stand to the right of the chair. Why? Because it implies that you think you’re better than the company, which is represented by the chair.
I had no clue.
Also, never sit back in the chair. You have to sit on the edge of your seat. I’m not sure exactly why– I think it has to do with a feeling that if you sit back in the seat, you think you’re hot stuff, and an interview is not some place to get comfortable and show off. You need to show a certain amount of respect with your body language, and using the chair back does not convey that to Japanese interviewers.
You’re also not supposed to show off. In the US, interviewers expect a certain amount of self-marketing, to the point where job-seekers will point out how often they’ve been indispensable to every organization they’ve worked with. (In which case, why are they unemployed?)
In Japan, you have to walk a really careful line about that, because the culture here frowns on boasting, and loves the whole modesty thing, even if it’s false modesty. As my mother would say, “It’s just not done.” Germans and Japanese have a lot in common that way.
I imagine it’s going to take me a while to figure out how to walk that tightrope.
ZigZag Heals All Wounds
In the evening, I went to ZigZag again for dinner, socializing, and the cheapest Guinness stout in all of Japan. It’s one of my favorite places to kick back and relax.