Once in Ni-Hong!

“Wakarimasen – -” ” or sometimes “Wakaranai” and even “Wakaraheng” were always my replies when I was there in Japan, one of the top countries people want to visit!

Last September, I took a test (First, paper then interview and interview again together with the speech on random topic) that AFS organization set up. I wasn’t so excited or that proud when I passed the paper exam because there were only 3 people taking it! I got the highest scores but still, only one mark ahead another girl so we both were interviewed by the teacher in our school and .. that was the start when I became tickled pink.. I was chosen.

But that was not it, I still had to compete with more 80 students from all around the country to be really chosen as Thailand’s representatives. I did OK. during the interview part but then time to make a speech ..

Pick the card.. 5 minutes to prepare then go for it for half an hour ~ look at what I got; How to protect corruption in Thailand! I never even corrupt even such a little thing in my life before so it was quite hard for me :p but I used that point of me to buid up the speech.. don’t ask me what I said, it went pretty ‘not good’ but I was still glad that at least I already did my best that time that moment..that day 🙂

A week later, “Successful candidates are…
1. Peeyanut
2. Nattarika

“Wait, the name I just passed seemed to be a bit familiar..It might be somebody I’ve know..” so I came back to that name on the 2nd;
2. Nattarika Chaiyadaecha, full scholarship to join ASEAN 2 program

Now that it’s so clear..that somebody’s name seemed to be the name involved with me —

Exactly, it was me! I never felt any happier in my life. I mean, I could get it..at last.. after having efforts for like 5 years in order to go abroad..and this time, it was free ~ Whoa, all I could say and thought was just, “YES!”

Then it was time to fly to join the 3-week program in Japan. There, I got a chance to meet friends from 10 Asean countries at the camp for a few days. We had fun al-together because all, of course, were the most exulted to be selected.. we became friends so easily ~ but that was when English was still the speaking language..

Later, we had to be seperated to go to homestays and high schools there in different parts of Japan. I was set to be in Osaka and went to Namihaya High School 🙂 As soon as I stepped in my host family’s house, “Obaki!!!”, as the first expression from my host little sister to welcome me .. I smiled although I didn’t know that word but she was cute so I thought it was definitely something nice .. I found it out later that it meant ‘GHOST!’

She loved breaking into my room so much and messed it all :p She also brought some toys in always ~ I knew she wanted me to play with her.. I did and we had some fun but sometimes she asked me questions.. now that I felt stupid..I never understood what she said or wanted ..

One morning when it was the first day to visit Namihaya, I, absolutely, was excited but also on the other hand, nervous like I was going to make speech to the whole world or something.. and here it came, the first sentence from friends.. “Onamae wa?!”

I knew that one!!! But I answered, “YES!!!”..everyone laughed. Well, they should because they asked what my name was but I said yes.. They already knew you had a name, Bow. – -”

What I had to face there was people speaking rare English and I was always lost in classes.. sometimes, I slept or drew loads of pictures in my notebook. When going home, I was always lost ~ and people always waved and walked away if I asked them in English.. I was even once greeted by the guy in the train which I believed to be a bit drunk.. I didn’t get what he said..AH!!!

– – – –

However ~ That was when I looked only at one side. Everything’s like coin which has two sides.. then I began to be a optimist. Understanding nothing from my host sister, Aiko, was not that bad actually because we still could play together and I could always get smiles from her..I painted pictures with her and taught how to write her name in Thai, it was fun and that was the most important. At school, if I didn’t say, “YES!” that time and began to shake or walk away instead.. I wouldn’t get a chance to stay at one of the friends’ house, smiles or even a look when walking pass.. I wouldn’t be able to make friends if I ignored when people paid attention to me..

If I just kept walking alone in the darkness trying to find my way home..without asking anything ~ the next day, I wouldn’t get a smile from the guy at bookshop who showed me the map the day before ..

Also, understanding nothing from what that drunk guy said was quite good because the next day I went out with my friends, we met that guy again but he turned out to be the sick person who kept trying to take my friends’ pictures and asked something in a bad bad way.. :p

It was one of the precious time of my life that I would never ever forget.. I might have said too little but well, I did notice how clean Japan was and how prosperous it was..but I don’t want to talk about that because it’s something clear that other people have noticed, too. What really got my heart was something different. I experienced that although there are thousands of languages on this earth, written and unwritten, people are still people..we’re made to me friends living in the same home called world. We can still contact and understand one another by heart-to-heart language. I know that a lot of people have persuaded you to learn new languages, parents send their children to extra classes to gain the third..the fourth language..it’s true that you’ll get benefits from that but it’s not so true if you know only your own mother-tongue.. you, we, can still make friends.. believe me, difference can never be barrier ~ Now, let’s start smiling and gain more friends and happiness to lift up your life!

5 responses to “Once in Ni-Hong!

  1. That’s a very touching moral. I know this blog comes from your heart.

    When I was in Thailand, I stayed in Samutprakarn, where there weren’t many people in the streets and shops that could speak english. I used to feel unconfident about speaking Thai, because i’d never spoke it before except on the phone to my girlfriend. One night I went out to buy some dinner, and decided to buy chicken, but I didn’t know how to ask for what I wanted. I wei’d the lady who worked there and said ‘sawas dee krab’. Her husband immediately turned around and I saw one real big smile on his face – he then wei’d and bowed back to me ‘sawas dee krab sawas dee krab’ and he was laughing a lot. I felt really happy because I could see he knew I was trying my best. Then the lady pointed to some things and I could order my dinner with body language, some thai words like ‘seong’ ‘an-nii’ and lots of smiles and laughing.

    Every day after that, everytime I walked passed – even just to use the phone – they greeted me, wei’d and laughed! I was still hesitant to speak because I never could remember how to put the words together in sentences, but I still spoke sometimes and had a fun time laughing with others 😀

    I like hearing about your experiences – especially ones like this that come from your heart.

    * ps – miss you

  2. Enjoyed this blog very much and looking forward to hear about your trip to Korea (?). Your last paragraph could very well describe what I learned from my first trip to Thailand.

  3. Very interesting,not only because I am Japanese but your story describe the attitude to face against other cultural difference !
    When I traveled Thailand for the first time,I could not understand or even not willing to learn thai language .However,human relationship in thailand with kindness seems quite interesting and meaningful to japanese society and our daily life after spending several weeks in tokyo.I am now making thai friends in japan and studying thai language ,and will learn at graduate school in thailand from next year.It was really really exciting to just think that I will be in the same class with thai people.
    We are born and live in the same “Asia” ,but actually we haven’t share or enjoy the cultural differences enough.Most of us hesitate to show the difference and hope to
    behave as natives without enjoying differences.But! I guess,Feeling cultural differences and friends might be most fruitful for living in abroad.Living among different culture will make me notice every great things in thailand and Japan,as you find them in Osaka.
    Reading your essay ,i noticed that having interests towards different things is the key to make daily life much exciting ,and I feel like to keep that attitude as you did.

  4. “We can still contact and understand one another by heart-to-heart language. “

    That is so very true…

  5. erlow…bow…
    i read all the park’s comments, i think he likes u..hehehe
    still cant forget the memory at korea….
    miss our group members….
    maybe on september i will comin to thailand…