Slovenija do Tokija!

No Slovenian football team has recently qualified for anything in Tokyo (then ended up in Korea) nor does the title represent any Slovenian nationalistic tendencies. Some part of Slovenia is already in Tokyo but now another small part has joined it – I have after a not too pleasant twelve-hour flight landed at Narita, it was August 31st. Today is a week from then and I am finally able to catch a breath and write down some coherent paragraphs.

Landing at Narita

Landing at Narita

Let’s start with a few ‘whys’, the first being why am I here? At the end of 2013 I applied and was in April 2014 accepted into the Vulcanus in Japan programme. Vulcanus in Japan is an internship for EU students wishing to acquire some industrial experience at the top Japanese companies (Vulcanus in EU is the equivalent programme for Japanese students), funded by the EU, the Japanese government, and the host companies. It consists of an intensive 4 month course on the Japanese language and culture followed by an (intense) 8 month internship at the host company, mine is Fujitsu. This year we’re a group of 44 engineering and science students from various EU countries (and Scotland?) that get to experience the programme and Japan at 21 different companies.

Vulcanus participants at the Tokyo reception

Vulcanus participants at the Tokyo reception (by Michal Cermak)

There is another why that I guess I should answer – why apply? I’ve had a long-lived fascination with Japan and always wished to see it first-hand, for a few weeks, as a tourist. I also wanted to experience working for a large and complex company, one counting employees in the thousands. I’ve heard about the programme years before but got properly interested in it when I saw a presentation on it by Grega Kešpret, a Slovenian Vulcanus alumni. Because the application process is quite complex I way usually too lazy to do it until I at the end of 2013 realised it’s now or never! I didn’t count on getting in but I wanted to apply just to scratch an itch. Well, now I’m in. A year should give me enough time to also be a tourist and Fujitsu should qualify for a large company with 170 thousand employees. I guess I can say I got what I wished for.

The third why requiring an answer is why a blog. People who know me also know I’m not a big fan of social media and sharing your life through the world wide web. In fact I am/was quite against it. As I was leaving a lot of people have expressed their interest in reading about and seeing how Japan and work at a Japanese company might look through the eyes of a Slovenian student, someone they actually know. I also kind of agree – this time around I might actually have something to share. I could be dumping photos on Facebook but I think a blog has a bit more substance and hopefully anyone reading it will agree.

I envision this blog as a kind of a journal for strange/interesting things that have and will happen throughout the year as well as a place where I can share my thoughts (on everything Japanese). I also tend to take some photos and since I’m new to all of this I have yet to see how well including them will work, hopefully they’ll be a welcome visual aid to the text I’ll end up writing. The title? ‘Idiot abroad’ was taken and ‘Slovenian’ should cover that and much more.

I’ll write more about the first week soon, for now let me just say that the food is great, Lost in Translation is a documentary, toilets really do require manuals, and like the Slovenian football team in 2002 I also didn’t exactly end up in Tokyo…

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