Today I would like to share a little bit about my experience as a master’s student in Japan attending classes virtually. Please note that this is my own personal experience, and I can’t not speak for all the other students that went trough the same situation.
I could write many pages about this, but I will spare you the smallest details. So, I decided to split this story into three important phases: the excitement, the doubt and the hope respectively.
This all really beginner in January 2021, it was when I had the wonderful news that I was approved in the selection process for the master’s program in Japan that I dreamed and prepared for a long time to conquer.
At that moment, I knew that Japan’s borders were closed for new entry’s, understood the reasons, but had these strong feelings that would get better real soon (nervous laughs, haha).
Well, remote classes started, and I was 12 hours behind due to time zone. So here in Brazil I would have classes from 21pm to about 04:35am or 6:15am in a few days. This schedule would make it impossible for me to have a job, even if it was part-time, because of the different class schedules. But everything was fine, it was a moment that I imagined would soon pass and I needed to invest this time and dedication in my education and future at that moment.
I was very excited, meeting new people, having colleagues and teachers coming from all over the world, discussing and studying issues so important to me and to the world was what made me move forward.
In the first period I attended online Japanese classes every day, where I could improve and learn the language while training by talking simple sentences with my classmates. In the following periods, I had my master classes that were very productive.
I was very happy, the few times I met my family (because even though we lived in the same house we had completely different time zones) I just talked about what I was learning, how I was progressing and how I felt full fulfilling part of a dream and waiting patiently until the end of the Tokyo Olympics, to realize it completely. Well, at least that’s what I thought…
A semester passed and despite the challenge, I completed the first semester of the master’s degree with good grades and satisfied with my performance. I was able to watch and cheer for Brazil and Japan at the Tokyo Olympics (even though I didn’t think it was entirely fair for the country to host such a large and temporary event, when people like me who would live in the country paying fees and contributing to long-term economy still could not enter Japan).
But unfortunately, even though the event was successful, we weren’t allowed in.
All right, I thought. Vaccines are being developed, soon everyone will be protected and we will no longer be so isolated and afraid. Things are going to go back to normal and I can finally start my new life, right? Wrong!
When classes start to fall-term I no longer felt so excited, the last six months have been quite challenging for my physical health, it is common sense that trading the day for the night does no good at all, right? Well, I always valued having healthy eating habits and physical habits, but unfortunately due to my routine of studying and living just as a ¨nocturnal animal¨ it was visible how I had lost weight (not in a good way) and how my eyes seemed backgrounds of dark circles.
Besides that, I started to feel very lonely in this routine. Because of the pandemic I couldn’t go out and meet friends, have a social life, and hardly saw my parents because we were awake at opposite times and my whole life was being lived through a computer screen.
That was when I started to doubt if it was the best choice to continuing to pursue my studies remotely, because even though I was happy and loved the classes, my biological clock was a mess, and I was starting to get sick. I did have some thoughts on asking a leave of absence for a year, while I could look for other options.
But deep inside, I never wanted to give up. I knew that I needed to be strong, after all, I chose to study on the other side of the world and for reasons above my control I needed to persevere and give my best for a little more time, things would soon improve.
Unfortunately, even with almost the entire population vaccinated and Japan closed for new entries for two years. I still have no concrete plan and no prediction to realize this dream completely.
During this time of waiting, uncertainty, and loneliness I could see that I am not the only one who has passed and still goes through it. We are 350,000 COE holders, willing to comply with all necessary security measures. Ready to realize a dream, but also to learn, to adapt to Japanese culture and willing to work as bridge between Japan and the rest of the world.
Ready to build a life in Japan as residents, paying taxes, contributing to the economy, generating jobs and opportunities for both Japanese citizens and other foreigners living in Japan. Together we can promote diversity and peace while respecting the traditionalism of Japanese culture.
I don’t think about quitting anymore, even though I’ve considered it in more difficult times. I still have hope to be able to finish the other part of my studies in person, and who knows how to repay this opportunity by contributing to Japanese society, living, and working in Japan someday.
I count with all of you who are reading this know to send the best good energies to make things get better soon from both sides and we can finally get back to a normal and safe life for everyone.
I will do my best! がんばります!