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Working and Raising a Child in My Second Hometown of Kobe

Japan University of Economics, Kobe Sannomiya Campus
Vuong Thi Ngoc Anh
Vietnam (Came to Japan in April, 2012)
Japan University of Economics / International Distribution Business Course

What sparked your interest in Japan?

My interest in Japan started when I was in elementary school. I learned about the scenery and life in Japan from Japanese manga, which is popular in Vietnam, and thought that Japan seemed like a wonderful country. The sound of the Japanese language and the greetings sounded so cute to me, too, and my fascination with Japan began.

Please tell us about how you came to Japan.

When it was time to start thinking about what to do after I graduated from high school, I considered going to a university in Vietnam, but my sister had had plans to study abroad in Japan, so I decided to come here too. After graduating from high school, I first studied Japanese at a Japanese language center in Hanoi. I then came to Japan in April 2012. After arriving in Japan, I attended a Japanese language school and then entered the Japan University of Economics.

Why did you want to work in Japan?

I wanted to use the Japanese I’d learned, and put my interpreting experience to use. Japan is also very safe, and I felt I’d be able to be more at ease living here: I wanted to work in the Japan that I love!

What is your current job?

My job is to support international students at a university. My specific duties include visa renewal procedures, guidance on applying for student certificates, and help with preparations for entrance exams. I believe that supporting international students is an essential job.

There are students from various countries at the university, in addition to students from my home country, Vietnam. I try to be conscious of helping international students in a way that’s easy to any of them to understand in my work.

I came to Japan right after graduating from high school, so I had hardly any experiences with people from other countries, but today my work allows me to interact with people from many different countries. It’s a really fun job, because it allows me to learn about many different cultures.

How did you find your current job?

I majored in International Distribution Business at university. All the classes were in Japanese. Although it was very challenging at first, I graduated from the university with the support of my teachers. When I was considering where to work after graduating, my teacher recommended that I work as an employee at this university. The school had been so good to me as an international student, and I’m thrilled that I can now support other international students just like I once was.

Through your work, what kind of support do you think is most needed by international students?

Through my work supporting international students, I’ve come to find that the support they most need revolves around continuing their studies and finding work. Every year, there are many different information sessions about applying to other schools and job hunting. But the target students for these events outnumber teachers and Japanese staff, and I think it’s difficult for international students to hear actual experiences and other information. Instead, I think it would be helpful to have exchange meetings between students and their older peers.

What is Kobe like?

I believe Kobe is similar to Da Nang in Vietnam, as it has the ocean and mountains and a mild climate.

There are famous tourist spots, too, but they’re not overcrowded, and just right in my opinion. The shinkansen and the airport are also nearby, making it a convenient city for both domestic and international travel. I think there are many young people and many kind people here. Kobe City also offers extensive child-rearing support, which personally has been very helpful.

What kind of child-rearing support have you received?

I’m married to a Vietnamese person in Kobe and have children. The medical system in Kobe is well-developed, so I wasn’t worried about giving birth in Kobe. Japan has a maternity leave system for working people. This is great for women to raise children at ease.

I hope people from overseas who are interested in coming to Japan will come to Kobe. In fact, more than 10 of my sisters and relatives have come to Kobe. I believe that there are many non-Japanese citizens in Kobe because it’s a comfortable place to live in not only for us Vietnamese, but also for people from various other countries.

What are your dreams for the future?

My dream is for Japanese people and international people to become closer, and to be able to share not only their studies, but their lives together, and to create a community that will make many different connections. First, I’m planning to start creating it at this university.

Please share a message for prospective international students or those hoping to work in Japan.

It’s wonderful when non-Japanese citizens to engage in work related to their home countries while living in Japan. There are many opportunities to work in Kobe, as there are many employment opportunities for non-Japanese citizens. There are people who are anxious about living and working in a foreign country for the first time. I’d like to tell them that they’ll be able to start working with peace of mind if they came to Kobe.

When I came to Japan, I had a lot of trouble collecting information about daily living. However, I now hardly have trouble in my daily life in Japan. This is because the non-Japanese community living in Kobe is substantial, and SNS offers a lot of useful daily and work information. You can find information in your own language in communities of people from different countries.

In fact, it’s been nine years since I came to Japan, and I’ve never thought about going to Vietnam. I feel that Kobe is my second home. I work while raising children and have a fulfilling life. My wish is that Kobe will be your second home.
*This interview is re-published from the WORK in KOBE website. The relevant page is here.