“It’s been exactly a month since I came to Japan. I can’t speak Japanese yet and it’s frustrating. But at the same time, it also gives me an incentive to study harder,” Melodie ALRIC from France says cheerfully. Melodie is 20 years old and a student at the University of Lyons. She’s been studying the Japanese language for two years. “In my college, the emphasis was on reading and writing. So even if I can communicate with my Japanese friends on Facebook, I can’t talk to them face to face,” she laughs.
Melodie became interested in Japan and the Japanese language through Japanese anime and manga which she became familiar with from a young age. “Naturally I saw and read them in French. I loved a manga called ‘NANA.’ I also found “MONSTER” interesting because it’s set in Germany and has scenes where the main character, who’s Japanese, prepares Japanese dishes for Germans.”
Melodie also gradually became interested in Japanese culture and history. “Japan’s culture and history are completely different from France’s. That’s why I wanted to know more and took Japanese language classes. There’s a student exchange program between the University of Lyon’s and Japan’s Musashi University. I used it and came to Japan with a plan to stay for a year.”
Because of the exchange program between the universities, there’s no need to pay tuition at Musashi. For a place to live, she chose a shared house near the university after consulting with Tulip Estate, an organization that manages many women-only shared houses and actively welcomes non-Japanese. The living room and kitchen are shared. The rent including utilities is 59,000 yen a month.
“The room is small but private. As we are all women, I feel safe. Another good thing is I can walk to the university and have no transportation expenses. We’re now six or seven in the house and everyone else is Japanese, so it’s the best environment for studying Japanese. When there’s some word I don’t understand, they all explain it to me by writing kanji or drawing images.”
“Because I’ve just arrived in Japan, I needed an extra 1,000 euros this month. I had to pay some insurance fees,” says Melodie. “From now on, I think I’ll only need from 800 to 900 euros a month. It’s for the rent, eating expenses, money to go out with friends and what have you.” She has saved about 4,000 euros because she wants to travel. Her parents gave her 3,500 euros for expenses for September through to December.
In Japan, she strolls around visiting different neighborhoods or museums. “Unlike France where shops are closed on Sunday, convenience stores are always open and handy,” says Melodie.
Melodie likes traveling and wants to work in the travel industry in the future. “I’d like to plan out trips for leisure and business people and organize events.” She intends to travel around and see a lot of Japan in her one year here. “I’m now planning a trip to Kyoto. I want to travel around Japan from Hokkaido to Okinawa.”
Text: SAZAKI Ryo
[From Hiragana Times November Issue 2013]