This month we present a blog by Katarzyna Maciejak, a native of Poland who has been living and working here in Nagoya on a Work and Travel Visa. Kasia as she is known by her friends, loves Nagoya and doesn’t want to leave, but her visa is up. Here is her story…
I have been dreaming about Japan for as long as I can remember. If anyone had told me back then, that one day my dream would come true and I would be living my life in this part of Asia, I wouldn’t have believed it at all.
As a teenager and student I’ve traveled around Europe a lot, with a great thirst for meeting new people and getting to know their ways of living. As if hypnotized, I’ve been covering the world map in my room with red pins for the places I’ve already been to, and with white ones for the places I wanted to visit. Time passed by, and I realized that those parts unknown which seemed merely strange names on my grandfather’s old globe to me, were now actually within my reach.
The experience I gained working and traveling helped me to realize one important thing: my whole life is about people. Is there any better way to get to know people, than by living among them? While spending work and leisure time together, we establish unique relationships and great understanding for different beliefs. This wisdom, as well as new friendships, stay in our hearts and minds forever and no one can take it away from us. I feel that neither the best textbooks, or guides can show the true face of any place on Earth.
My five years of cosmetology studies at a medical university passed by in the blink of an eye. Surfing the internet, I saw the headline of an article ‘Poland and Japan to sign a ‘Work and Travel Visa’ agreement’.
It didn’t take me long – holding my brand new Masters’ Degree in one hand and a visa in the other, I booked the flight. The Land of the Rising Sun – I’m coming! Which place in this world could suit my education and background better? Where else than in Japan, a country famous for its aesthetics, sensitivity and harmony, could I unveil the secret of Beauty?
I got to Nagoya on the 12th of January 2016. Knowing only the basic Japanese that I managed to learn in advance, I was wondering how I could make best of the year ahead of me? Having a mom who is a teacher, and thus having grown up in and around school, teaching English seemed like the obvious choice.
Another month later, and already I thought, that I could not be happier. I’ve not only managed to land a few contracts with a few schools, but also started preparing the great opening of a new, international beauty parlor, where I became manager.
Nagoya turned out to be far beyond my expectations. I have no idea, how a ‘gaijin’s life’ looked like 10 years ago – I was not here then. But I feel, that I can say, that the truly global character of this place is gaining momentum right now. And it’s happening in front of us! Just have a look, how many of us, expats, are already here. As Japan opens its arms to the world, the demands and standards are changing: the market for everything labeled ‘international’ has increased exponentially.
But what is it exactly, that I like the most about this particular corner of the world? The feeling of being in the right place at the right time. Finally I can utilize all of my different skills to the fullest and I’m not afraid of getting involved in my work with my whole heart. I will never be able to say ‘I’m from Nagoya’, though. That’s for sure. I think all of us know the feeling of being foreign. But, hey! Exactly in this bizarre, far out place called Japan I have been the beneficiary of so many selfless acts of kindness and support from people who might just as well have considered me a stranger that I feel like it’s my second home here. I owe you one, Nagoya!
Well, here we go. Next year is right around the corner, and so is my ‘Work & Holiday Visa’ expiry date. My time has come. The only thing is… I don’t want to leave yet! It’s impossible to stay where I work now, though. So what happens next? University degree? Check. Extensive experience? Check. Languages? Two fluent, another three rather well – that’s checked, too. Attitude towards life? 200% positive, so checked as well. What’s missing then?
Ah, yes. The visa sponsorship. Does anyone have an idea who could sponsor me?
Want to help Kasia out? Send her an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org