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Aiming to become a Data Analyst in my Beloved Japan

Kobe International University Faculty of Economics
Induruwe Sanka Viraj
Sri Lanka (1 year in Okinawa, 4 years in Kobe)

What first made you interested in Japan?

It was actually the TV drama “Oshin,” which I watched in order on TV when I was litte. I became interested in Japan for how it overcame its defeat in war. While I was in Sri Lanka, I took every opportunity to get close to Japanese culture: I used a program at JICA for an hour a week, learning about Japanese culture in English; and saw Japanese tea ceremony for the first time at Japan Expo.

When did you decide to come to Japan, and how did you prepare?

I actually wanted to come to Japan right after I graduated high school, but I needed a little more time to prepare my language skills and to prepare financially, so I went to university in Sri Lanka to study management. I also made use of a study abroad agent to help me with my visa and other preparations. I came to Japan with an N5 level of Japanese, but even with that I struggled to communicate in the beginning. Even when I could understand the Japanese that was spoken to me, it was very hard for me to find the words to say what I wanted.

Tell us about how you chose Kobe, and how you feel about that decision!

In the beginning, I actually went to a Japanese language school in Okinawa first, because many Sri Lankan people live there for its warm climate. Later, I decided I wanted to go to a vocational school, and one of my Japanese language school teachers suggested Kobe International University to me. There was an information session about the school in Okinawa, and after attending the session I decided to apply. After four years of living in Kobe, I’ve found that it’s an international city with people from all over the world, and a very good place to live. If I’m able, I’m hoping to find a job in Kobe, too.

What do you study at school?

In the Faculty of Economics at Kobe International University, I study mostly data analysis and IT business. I use Microsoft Office tools to examine data, and then analyze that data to predict future sales. Someday I want to work in trade, so I’m working hard to polish up my IT business skills. All of my classes are in Japanese, but with two other Sri Lankan students, as well as students from China and Southeast Asia, I’m studying in quite an international environment.

What do you feel are the differences between Japan and your home country?

Japan has a strong culture of timeliness! Trains and buses always come on time, which is very convenient.

I also experienced doing part-time work for the first time in Japan! I’ve worked in a Japanese restaurant, yakitori restaurant, and convenience store. In Sri Lanka, the only option is for full-time work, but I think it might be good to have the opportunity to see what a society with part-time work is like.

The next thing isn’t really a “difference,” but I feel that I’ve become freer since coming to live in Japan. In Sri Lanka, you may be put into a bit of a box to fit the role of a man or woman, but by taking a step away from my country, I realized I can decide how I want my life to be!

Please tell us about your goals or dreams for the future.

Someday I want to have my own company. Japanese cars are popular in Sri Lanka, so I’d like to maybe work with their import and export, or create some kind of business to bring some of the assistive devices for the growing elderly population in Japan to Sri Lanka. To prepare for that, I’m mostly focusing my job search on jobs in trade. Due to the pandemic, the job hunt is especially difficult for international students, but I’m receiving support from the career center and I’m doing my best!

Please share some advice for prospective international students to Kobe (or Japan)!

If you’ve decided you want to study abroad in Japan, I recommend getting at least an N4 level of Japanese before you come. I think it will make it easier to enjoy your life in Japan. Festivals and fireworks in Japan are really fun, and the nature in the mountains and the snow is beautiful. I don’t have a single complaint about my study abroad experience in Japan. Come study abroad in Japan, too!