Japan

#56 Life of a 27 year old intern

Here we go, once again I have left my family, boyfriend, and my friends to move to a semi foreign place (to say it’s completely foreign would be cheating) for the sake of… what? Career advancement? Exposure? Adventure? Challenge? Escape? さあ

The truth is, most French universities require their students to do an internship in the final semester usually ranging from 3-6 months to acquire OJT and some work experience before stepping into the real world, so here I am. At one point in time it was my aspiration to work at the place I’m interning now but it was just a faraway dream. I remember checking their vacancy page every other day to see if there were any internship vacancies since my first year of Master’s and sure enough, one day, there was a vacancy open! Awesome. So I applied, and a few months later, I got invited to do a written exam, a few months of no response, and I got invited to do an interview. Still another few months of silence and suddenly I receive a positive email telling me I got the position. Luckily I applied early!

So now I’m an intern at UN H * a b i t a t Regional Office of Asia and Pacific. 🙂

I’m still on my first week but things are soooo different working at an international, English-speaking setting than a Japanese-speaking, Japanese corporate culture company like C * a p co m. Fukuoka also has a more laid-back feel than Tokyo. I see many airplanes taking off and landing, which kinda reminds me of Geneva. The subways aren’t too crowded and more people give you eye contact. Food here is also good so far, and groceries are cheaper so there really is nothing to complain about! The cherry blossoms are also in full bloom and the weather’s getting better everyday. I speak the language, I do the same body language — I’m totally in my element. Isn’t it weird that I feel more inconspicuous in Japan than in KL? Sometimes I like the feeling of getting lost in the crowd and being just one of the faces in the sea of people. A disclaimer: My writing style (not like I have that much of a style per say) may be a little more sentimental than usual because I’m currently reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. Based on my experience, I know I’m going to be disappointed plotwise but I just can’t stop reading the frigging 1000-page thing!

Anyway, being a 27 year old intern has its benefits. I have real 9-5 work experience and I more or less kinda know what I want to get out of this internship. What I need more of, is just perseverance to stick to reading academic articles and gain the skill of dissecting the fancy and fluffy jargon to get to the cores of their messages. The system is so complex and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it but I already know more than what I knew 4 days ago since I started. If I keep going like this, maybe I’ll achieve my dream (?) of becoming an international civil servant!

Other Countries · Peace Boat · Traveling / 旅行 · Urban Planning

#55 Reminiscing PB88: Cristobal (Port 19)

What is Peace Boat?

¡Hola!

  • Date: 2015/10/29 (Panama Canal on 2015/10/30)
  • Port Name: Cristobal
  • Country: Panama
  • First time there?: Yes!
  • What did I do?: Interpreting for a tour to the watch swamp animals and to witness the workings of the Panama Canal

So what happened was we first visited Cristobal city before passing the Panama Canal the following day.  I was translating for a tour to visit how the Panama Canal works and the whole system of locks and rising and lowering of the water. It was really cool because unlike the Suez Canal where they essentially just dug and dug the ground to create a passage at sea level for ships to cross. Conversely, the Panama Canal involves a series of locks and gates that carries a ship up from the Atlantic to a lake at a higher altitude, then back down again towards the Pacific (or the other way round). The canal was undergoing expansion when we were there. I think now they have two lanes so there’s less traffic jams.

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Passing through the Panama Canal. It was rainy. Staff had a day off because it was assumed that all passengers would be distracted by the passing sights (including Panama City from afar!) and naturally, they were. We played basketball on the rooftop court in the rain.

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Postcard for the family:

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Next port: Callao, Peru!

Other Countries · Peace Boat · Traveling / 旅行

#54 Reminiscing PB88: Belize City (Port 18)

What is Peace Boat?

Hello!

  • Date: 2015/10/26
  • Port Name: Belize City
  • Country: Belize
  • First time there?: Yes!
  • What did I do?: Interpreting for a snorkeling tour

We took a boat out to a popular snorkeling spot then had lunch at an uninhabited island. It was one of the most hilarious interpreting experiences I had because I wasn’t an expert in fish and coral reef terms, let alone knowing these very specific terms in Japanese. Also the timing was very tricky because whenever a cool fish showed up, the guide needed to come up to the surface to give us information about it and by that time I would’ve lost my visual reference. After 20 minutes or so of trying, I think most people just gave up trying to listen to the guide and me and just floated away enjoying their own time. The water was clean and clear but I don’t remember seeing much impressive fish or coral, but this was perhaps because I was just too occupied and/or stressed.

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After the snorkeling trip we still had a few hours to kill so we hung out at the jetty and parts of the city for wifi time and a supermarket run respectively. I remember feeling like we were stepping into a shady area once we went beyond the wall (?) separating the jetty area and the city area. This was in contrast to the jetty side with several cute cafes and shops catered to tourists and an unobstructed view of the beautiful ocean. Its’s like allowing us outsiders to visit the place “just as we like it” aka only enjoying the bright and shiny side whereas its real but darker side which, no question, is full of beautiful people and authentic culture was just a few steps away.

Painted train tracks. Doesn’t this look like it could be Malaysia?

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Postcard for the family:

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Next port: Panama City!