Written by: Hadeera Abdullah

What Made Me Come to Japan?

In Egypt, I was studying Japanese at the University of Cairo, and in my third year, I was among those who will travel to Japan on a JASSO scholarship for one year to Yokohama National University.

I eagerly wanted to go to Japan simply because of my passion to chase my dreams, education, career, and the life which I would like to challenge there. It encouraged me to apply for the scholarship to Japan which then sent me to Yokohama, a port city in Kanagawa Prefecture.

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A memory in Yokohama

From the Country of Pharaohs Egypt to Yokohama, Japan

Even I was a scholarship awardee which I really exciting about, I had a lot of worries to travel to Japan.

First of all, is to convince my family to agree with my decision to go, as maybe you’ve heard how it is like in the culture of the Middle East society, especially because I am a girl who will go to a country without any relatives which makes them feel afraid a lot about me, from loneliness and other people’s opinion if any bad thing occurs. I tried hard to tell them that the things they are worried about could happen anywhere so what we can do is to trust in Allah SWT and believe that every step in our life comes from the greatest planner Allah SWT. Blessed with a name with the meaning of “strong voice” in Arabic,  I am a girl with a strong will and don’t afraid to speak up.

After a lot of negotiation, Alhamdulillah my family agreed to my decision.

A strong will, a strong trust in God, and big dreams push her to chases her passion for Japan

Touchdown Yokohama University, I stayed at students’ dormitory and found myself among students from various countries which makes me excited. Since I came from Japanese studies, it enhances my motivation in learning Japanese on its mainland.

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One year passed very fast where I need to go back to Cairo and finish my study at the University of Cairo. After that, I found a job at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and worked together with Japanese ex-pats that help me to have a deeper knowledge about the working system of Japan. It sent me to Japan to join a-month of training which then encouraged me to go back to Japan to continue my study.

Next Destination; Hokkaido, The Land of Snow

After spent plenty of time searching for scholarships, I found a private scholarship sponsored by Hokkaido College of Oriental Medicine, Sapporo. Almost all my colleagues were Japanese, so it was a nice opportunity for me to enhance my Japanese proficiency.

To get myself impressive during the scholarship interview (which we need to pass!), I put all my confidence in explaining and answering while trusting in Allah SWT after all effort I did.

I love to be in Hokkaido as I can get a deeper insight into a new area in Japan, as in the previous two times I did not have the opportunity to visit Hokkaido, and I was excited!

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Sapporo Masjid Sisters; A Community I Belong!

Sapporo is cold which somehow gloomy and dark, was not like Yokohama or Tokyo. In the beginning, I felt so scared and I thought that I should go back to Egypt. After a while, with a lot of supports from my college, I got to know the Muslim community in Sapporo which completely changed my life there. I found a beautiful big family from all over the world: Egypt, Sudan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, India. the biggest diversity I have ever experienced !! They supported me, helped me a lot. We have a gathering every Saturday to take some lessons or chat and have lunch together. It was my pleasure to contribute to translating the lessons to the Japanese sisters who visited the masjid.

With Sapporo Masjid sisters

I was studying in Hokkaido for a year, then I looked for another scholarship to Tokyo.

“Fashion”, A Passion I Found in Japan

When I came to Japan for the third time, I wished that I could make my way in the field of fashion, and be able to deliver a message to collaborate clothes with a nice design to the hijab which we can imitate in the way that fits us.
I started to speak up about that in my community, it was a magic of connections that, one of my colleagues was interested in my topic and she introduced me to a fashion designer who is a specialist in remaking kimono. She assigned me to a fashion runway, of course with my hijab and with the way that I felt comfortable with!

Participated in a kimono x hijab fashion runway

This experience taught me that, it is extremely important to be brave to take a step to achieve something. If it’s good for you,  Allah will ease everything. Just try and say bismillah!

What did I do in Collecting Scholarship Information?

Actually, I randomly searched on the internet with a keyword such as “scholarship”. It shows me a list of scholarships available, then applied for a program I am interested in. Besides, I was looking for scholarship information from the Egyptian Embassy and also discussing it with my school in Sapporo. They help me a lot to find a scholarship in Tokyo.

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Touchdown the Metropolitan Tokyo

If in Yokohama and Sapporo I was living in University’s dorm, I went to rent a room in Tokyo on my own. I visited a real estate company that helps people to get a room according to your requirement (location, distance from station, floor plan, etc).

It is a blessing for me to be able to pursue my MBA study in Tokyo with a partial scholarship, especially in a majority of “innovation and leadership” that becomes my decisive factor to choose Shizenkan University, as I personally feel that our society need to be more enhanced in the leadership topics and seeking to learn the beautiful aims from that. Furthermore, I believe that the study will help me a lot in the field of fashion projects I want to realize in the future insya Allah.

Together with colleagues and teachers of Shizenkan University

It was not an easy thing for me to find a part-time job, but Alhamdulillah I got a chance to work in a bakery shop for more than 4 months. It was a very unique experience for me.

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Culture Shock

This is a topic I am frequently asked about!

Actually, I did not find any culture shocks because I was aware that I am an Arab Muslim girl coming from a different culture and a different environment to Japan. However, I think that it is a challenge to practice what I did in my country, such as from an appearance with hijab, religious practice, and limits that I can not cross. The challenges I mentioned here are not about the implementation, but rather about explaining them.

I came from an environment where it is not important to explain what you do because all people are doing the same, but in Japan, there are many curious questions among my colleagues that lead me to have a deeper learning about my religion to be able to share with them correctly.

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