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From Japan to Malaysia

Mee Ayam
That's how some people refer to me. Funny!

Ayami Makino, from Kanagawa prefecture, Japan. It's 15-20 minutes from Tokyo by train. Went to Tokyo a lot, I mean it's close why won't you. I am 20, and this is my second semester in the Faculty of Modern Language and Communication UPM as an exchange student. It went... well here's how it went…

Before anything else, I would like to establish the fact that it is SO difficult for me to communicate in English. I don't have the confidence and Japanese in general do not speak English. Thankfully enough, people around me had been very supportive. They helped a lot especially when I'm losing direction in the literal sense. I'm not sure what people meant every time I met new people saying, "O your English is fine" "It's not so bad", but it felt nice.

Little Ayami always wanted to get out of the country and see the world. South East Asia had always been my interest. Then I found out about Malaysia, having 3 major races living in the country. It was really fascinating to me, coming from Japan, an overly homogeneous country. Felt like going to numerous places in one country.

I remembered my struggle back when I arrived in Malaysia for the first time, and I can clearly recall what an organization called "Buddies" did to me. It was life changing. The fact that I am now a member of Buddies is something else, felt like a dream. I was helped, now, I'm helping.

I enjoyed buddies’ events and programs. We get to arrange trips, orientation, and discussions. I really looked at myself and see that I am growing by becoming a UPM Buddies. It turned me into a more responsible and do-it-myself kind of person. It was exciting to see what actually happened behind an event. Even little things felt empowering to me like its exhaustive planning, and the before and after discussion for every event.

That might have sounded strange to you like, "why is it so empowering?". Back in my university in Japan, organizations like Buddies are run by staffs. Totally different! There's no, like freedom or that feeling of control. In UPM, Students have power! Everything is by the students, to the students, and for the students.
Heading into the end of my journey here in Malaysia brought sadness to me. I learned a lot more than just classes and books. I became more independent, made a lot of friends, and that intercultural learning has been
possible through making friends.

Ayami, Exchange student from Japan, in the Faculty of Modern Language & Communications, Universiti Putra Malaysia

Interview By: Petra Praysia
Written By: Mohammad Resyad Ghifari
Photo By: Mohamed Safar

Date of Input: 08/10/2019 | Updated: 06/07/2020 | sitiafiqah


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