Sunday, May 15, 2005

ON BEING A GRADUATE STUDENT IN JAPAN

When Angel commented on my blog that she was at her lowest, I didn't know that she was really feeling down.

Anyway, it is a relief to read that a few friends (fishfish and gang, that is) 'saved' her from doing the unthinkable over the Golden Week.

Yes, being a student, especially a graduate student in Japan can be pretty tough.

Especially, when one is not good with the language.

For me, the master course was ok.

But the doctorate was like a killer...

I was regularly ignoring my meals, and working non-stop.

I kind of like, 'zombimized' myself.

I experienced frequent fainting spells.

Many a time when I laid on the futon, my body was so flaccid that I swore to myself that if I close my eyes now, I would not be able to wake up the next day.

That is, I die in my sleep...

I knew my stomach walls were scraped paper-thin.

One day, while slurping ramen (Japanese 'Chinese' noodles) in the cafeteria, I felt a sudden jolt in my brain.

It was like a strong punch... P'NNNNGGG!

Immediately I headed to the Red Cross Hospital.

The doctor, when he saw my facial expression, said, 'you look like you are afraid to die'.

I said, 'yes' and that I felt my veins burst in my brain.

He said, 'if that happened, you will not be sitting here'.

I then went for a full medical check up.

The doctor said, 'ten percent chance of stomach cancer... need further tests...'

While waiting for the test results, many friends worried for me, saying 'you obviously don't look well'.

My savior was my missus.

She nursed me back to the good health I am enjoying now.

Now that I am a student advisor in the university, I get quite a bit of queries from students wishing to come to Japan.

I am in the social science; Angel is in the hard sciences(?).

I thought social science was bad, and that the hard sciences was okay.

But, looks like it is equally bad on that side too.

Communicating with the Japanese professors was such a monumental problem.

There is a lot of truth in the Japanese being lousy communicators.

Their language is considered a 'high context' language where one can just mumble an 'aaah' and the conversation partner would know exactly what that means.

I say to the prospective students; come for the masters, and do your PhD somewhere else...