During the exciting weeks prior to my departure to Japan I continuously asked myself what it would be like to live in a country that has such a different cultural background and code of conduct compared to what I know. Not to forget the new alphabet I must learn first to understand everything around me.
For 10 days now, I am officially the “12th Scholar ” of the Gruenwald Foundation and have been chosen to take part in this unique program. The hidden agenda behind it is to enable “young adults” to live in the country for three months and to experience Japan, to get a true image of its culture, customs and language.
The program, which has been organized for some years now, is handeled in a very experienced way. Thus everyone involved – except myself – knows the routine. I can now ease off any fears of potential scholars, too. If you make it to Itami airport, you will be met by Mr. Okamoto and from then on you will be shipping “in shallow waters”, being cared for in a very loving and attentive way.
During my first days here in Osaka Mr. Okamoto has taken an enormous measure of time to enable me to get an insight look at “his” country. At the same time, he has passed on his knowledge so that I am now able to participate in the day to day routine of a Japanese person. I can take public transportation without getting lost (which is much more difficult than you would ever believe), I can place an order in a restaurant or hand over a business card in perfect form.
The first adventure on my own, took me to downtown Osaka, more precisely to one of the department stores that contained all the products one can buy in the entire city of Munich. A four hour visit to the the “Hankyu Umeda Main Store” wasn’t enough time to get a glimpse of all the fifteen floors of the building. I am still flabbergasted by the dimensions here that make me speechless!
On October 8th, the Okamoto family organized a welcome party for me. While dining on an excellent twelve course meal, I could experience first hand how tasty traditional Japanese food is. Fortunately, there were also some people invited, who I had already met at previous appointments with Mr. Okamoto. The atmosphere wasfriendly and I felt very welcome among these familiar faces.
A Japanese proverb states: “Kawaii ko ni wa tabi o saseyo” (Send the child you love traveling). Well, this time it was not my own family who enabled this wonderful journey for me, but the Okamoto family in cooperation with the Gruenwald Foundation and the Rotary Club Gruenwald.
I am not sure if the people involved know that this experience would have never been possible for me without their support and thus I would not be in Japan today if it hadn’t been for you.
A sincerely thank all of you for making this happen!