The article in this post was published 1989 in The Nihongo Journal. Anyone who is interested about Japanese language and Japanese culture are welcome.
My First Encounter with Japan
The student with the best grades can to Japan. Thanks to these words of encouragement from our professors at Thammasat University (Bangkok, Thailand). I was able to receive a scholarship and visit Japan as a third-year college student.
I was to take part in the International Conference, a one-month program for instructors and students of Japanese from around the world. On this first visit to Japan, I studied Japanese daily with students from a multitude of countries.
I soon learned that the number of kanji I had studied and memorized in Thailand was small, and scarcely comparable with that of students kanji-based countries like Singapore Hong Kong and Korea. Yet I realized that my conversational skills and grammar were definitely up to par. That put me at ease to an extent.
After actually interacting with Japanese, I became aware of how often they use honorific language and social expressions. For instance, customers are always greeted with a loud “irasshai mase”, no matter how small the shop is.
I was uneasy with the way the tour guide sightseeing bus stood outside of the door and said “otsukare sama deshita” to each passenger after arriving at destination.
Taking the Exams for Government- Funded Students from Abroad
After returning to Bangkok, I put a lot of work into studying English as well as Japanese, the reason being that, in order to receive the Japanese Government (Monbusho) Scholarship, I had to take an English exam. The problem was that I was at a loss as to what kind of preparations were needed for the exam. I had heard that many test candidates studied books with problems from the TOEFL exam, but the test I had to take emphasized reading comprehension and essays.
After passing the written examination, candidates had to take an oral exam. The oral exam reduced the candidates, originally 200 in number, by more than half. Besides two representatives from the Monbusho, officials from the Thai Ministries of Education and Foreign Affairs also served on the selection committee, making for a total of nine supervisors for the oral exam. Thai committee members asked questions in English; committee members from Japan asked questions in Japanese.