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Language Lounge and My New Japanese Friends

One of the great things about NUFS is that it offers scholarships to ryuugakusei (foreign students); mine was about ¥60,000 a month, of which ¥24,000 was taken out each month for rent. But if you’re going out and seeing the sights and eating the cuisine, that isn’t always a lot to live on. And ryuugakusei can’t get jobs in Japan. So one thing NUFS offers as a supplement to the scholarship is working in the Language Lounge. Essentially, you go in and speak in your native language to Japanese students who are learning that language. It helps if you know Japanese, so you can explain concepts to them, but in general, in the Language Lounge, speaking Japanese is prohibited. For doing this for an hour, during lunch, you get paid ¥1000. Not too shabby.

In my case, I signed up for the English Lounge, and the experience has been quite amazing. I worked two days a week (Tues and Wed). Not only have I learned quite a bit about Japanese language and culture from the students I’ve spoken with, but I’ve made several Japanese friends. I should single out one person in particular.

I met Takayuki a couple of weeks into the English lounge. He was quiet, a bit awkward, and shy. But he was very interested in English, and happened to plop down by me and began asking me questions. I soon discovered he was also a French major, and I told him could speak a little French. We had a good talk during the first hour, and he came back the next day, this time with questions on English idioms. Roisin was there to help me explain them, and he had a field day with the differences between American and British English (as Roisin was from Wales).

The next week, during Lounge, he invited me and Roisin to go bowling with him and his friends (I had told him the previous week, when we were discussing sports, that I liked bowling—he did as well!). We accepted, and that weekend we went to a bowling alley in Chikusa with Takayuki and his friends. They were all really patient with us, as well as curious, and it was a blast. The bowling alley was fun, and we also played a bit in the arcade.

Takayuki and I met regularly from then on in the Language Lounge, and even now, when Language Lounge is officially over and I’m not getting paid, I still see him every week in the Lounge. He really is a lot of fun, and I’m so glad I met him. I hope I helped him with English as much as he’s helped me with my Japanese. I certainly hope he makes good on his offer to come to America and visit. ^_^

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