Act!

Yukina Maruyama
Tomizawa Middle School

gThe number of Japanese students who want to study abroad is on the decrease.h

I read this in a newspaper the other day. I think the reason is the introverted Japanese youth of today. They are not interested in foreign countries, and they think to go abroad is troublesome.

Like them I thought it would be troublesome at first. But I had a chance to go to Vancouver in Canada to study English. I wanted to better my English. I didnft expect hardship. I thought it would be easy. So I went to Vancouver this spring.

During my stay in Vancouver I went into a shop to buy some doughnuts. However, at the register I couldnft catch what the clerk said. I was shocked. I had confidence because I had learned English for a long time. I wanted to say, gPlease say it againh, or gplease speak more slowlyh. But I didnft have the courage to ask. In Japan, clerks are usually very kind to customers from foreign countries when they are taking in what is going on around them. I hoped the clerk would speak slowly again so I could understand. But, she didnft seem to care. On the contrary, she seemed to want me to hurry up. So, because of the atmosphere of the place, I was afraid to say anything.

When I went to my school in Vancouver, I told this problem to my teacher. She said, gDonft worry about such a little thing. You wonft get anywhere if you do.h

Thatfs it! If you go abroad with Japanese way of thinking and common sense, it might be very hard for you to be accepted there. The way of thinking in Japan is different to other countriesf. But letting that defeat you will get you nowhere. You need to rise to the challenge. No one will help you. Rising above the difficulties of living and studying in a foreign country is the real purpose of going abroad and should be your goal. I think there is no point in just mastering the language. So I decided to stay positive during my stay in Canada.

My next chance to challenge myself came soon. I was in another shop a few days later. The clerk gave me a drink that was not the size I had ordered. I gathered all my courage and pointed this out. It was something I had never done until then. The clerk listened politely and corrected the mistake courteously. I was so glad. I felt like a new person. I learned that there are things more important to living in foreign countries than gaining skill in English. These things are to gAct!h and to gKeep a brave hearth. If you take action, you take control of your future. I learned this through my experience in Vancouver.

To grow you need to step out of your comfort zone. You have to always have curiosity and to try new things. Therefs no need to wait till after you are abroad to do this. You can start now. Here. You can do it in Japan.

As for me, Ifm going to continue to study foreign countries and cultures, and work hard on my English. My goal is to communicate with people from all over the world, and be someone who faces any and all hardships unflinchingly. Itfs my dream to promote international study, international exchange, and international harmony.

(3-34 Speech in 64th Contest, 2012)


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