- Nicolas (Germany)
― 1. Why did you choose WIZE NET for an internship?
There are two sides of that decision. The first part is why I chose to do an internship in Japan, the second is why at WIZE NET in particular. I learned some Japanese in University. The teacher often talked about the culture and it's differences to the one in Germany. She did not only want to teach us to talk Japanese but also to know about Japan and its people. After that, I definitely wanted to go to Japan for some time. However, I did not want to be a tourist. I wanted to talk to, live and work with the locals. WIZE NET could give me that opportunity.
As I study computer science, I wanted to use the time in Japan to also further my skills in that subject. In particular with web technologies and mobile computing to which I took a liking to university. The first thing on the homepage of WIZE NET that I saw were the frameworks and technologies they use which were all part of that field.
And reading one of the other interviews with someone that studies the same subject, at the same university and has the same first name, I knew I wanted to work at WIZE NET, that was too much of a coincidence.
― 2. How did you feel before coming to Japan?
I was nervous and excited at the same time. This was my first time outside of Europe and my Japanese was not the best. A lot of the familiarities of Germany would not exist in Japan. But at the same time, I felt well-prepared thanks to my Japanese teacher and the members of AIESEC that helped me especially with organizational parts like the VISA and finding a place to stay.
― 3. How was the internship in the beginning?
The beginning was very interesting. A lot of the formal things were in Japanese and I did not understand everything. Adrian, a Polish colleague, helped me a lot. He was in the exact same situation himself, so he knows where one might need support. I was well received and even invited to lunch on my first day. My first task was to implement a training project using two different frameworks. That way I learned a lot about both of them and could later help deciding which to choose for other projects.
― 4. You are from Germany where a lifestyle and culture is different from Japan. How do you feel about living in Japan? Tell us something you experienced for the first time, something impressive, something amazing, including something that was troublesome for you.
The lifestyle and culture are very different to Germany. The security and well-being of every person are very important. Every construction site has at least one person whose job it is to look out for passersby. Even if there is no real danger. The trains are always on time (except in rush hour) so that no-one is bothered by being too late. If there is a delay the drivers always apologize for it and immediately inform the passengers. Even on personal grounds. "No" is mostly said when asking for facts. With anything else, it is more like a "that is a bit difficult" so that you are not offended by it. In Germany there is only somebody standing in front of a construction site if there is a real danger, the trains are not as often on time as one might think, and we are very straightforward.
For the first time:
One first for me was the way to work every morning. The trains and metros are totally packed every single day from 7:00 am to 9:00 am. Even if there is already no space left in the wagon there is another person that squeezes himself in there. This is no problem for me because I am taller than most Japanese. But I can not imagine how it is for smaller people.
Japan is the safest country I have ever been in. Even Tokyo, a city of many million people is safer than any city I visited in Germany. Once I watched as a man leave his wallet and smartphone on the table in a cafe while going to the toilet. Another example is that I have not yet seen any situation where the police were necessary. Even though small police stations are all over Tokyo.
I would say both previous points are already amazing. But another amazing thing about Tokyo is how you are never far away from either a Buddhist or Shinto Shrine. Not even in Akihabara (also called Electric Town). That one is very hidden between two high buildings in a small alleyway. But it is still there. I saw smaller ones next to a big street, and bigger ones inside a big greenery. In Europe, there is mostly one or two churches in a town.
The only troublesome thing was that my luggage did not make it to Tokyo. Because of delays with the flight I had a very short transfer in Beijing. I made it, but my luggage stayed behind. At the airport, in Tokyo, an employee of the airline held a sign up with my name. She wrote my address down and on the next day, the suitcase was dropped off where I stayed. So the only troublesome thing that happened was solved without much effort from my side.
― 5. What do you think about company culture?
I really like the company culture. My Japanese teacher and articles from the internet told me that Japanese companies often have a very strict hierarchy. I also expected a lot of rigid traditions while working. None of that is true with WIZE NET. The company has a very nice working environment and interesting tasks. I also feel that I am not the first foreigner to work at the company. They are very understanding if there is a language problem or cultural differences.
― 6. Word for students (or everyone)
I really recommend for you to learn some Japanese before coming here, both in listening and writing. While the touristy places in Tokyo often have English translations below Japanese texts, many other places lack them. The English phrases the Japanese use are adjusted to their tongue. Application, for example, is often shortened to "apuri" not "app". When speaking it is definitely possible to throw in an English word as long as the main part of the sentence is Japanese. While traveling to the opposite side of the world for an internship is destined to create some problems, you should try to stay calm. The Japanese really want to help you and are very understanding of language barriers and cultural differences. Most challenges that you will face on this journey will not be as difficult as they initially seem. Some of them can even be opportunities. I use my lack of reading skills to randomly try new food. Until now I did not regret it. Most of the Japanese food is delicious.
- Nicolas (Germany)
― 1. Your internship is coming to an end, how do you feel about the whole thing?
I will leave Japan with a smile in one eye and a tear in the other. I am happy to see my family and friends again and I like to study but I also enjoyed my work in Tokyo with WIZE NET and would like to see how some of the projects that I have worked on progress.
― 2. 6 months in Tokyo is plenty of time to touch the Japanese culture. Could you share some experiences?
It is amazing how many small cultural events there are in Tokyo. They almost stopped me from venturing further from the capital as every single weekend the next "matsuri" is just a 20 Minute train-ride away. I also had the luck to be in Tokyo during the Cherry Blossom Season (Ohanami) which is gorgeous and by itself a good reason to come to Japan. Close to my Guesthouse, there were even some festivities that I only saw by chance. Those were some less touristic experience that you will only see when living in Japan for some time.
At the beginning of the Internship, I already knew that the English will be limited in Japan. This, however, forced me to talk much more Japanese than I would have spoken in a European Company with a seat in Japan, which resulted in a fair increase of my Japanese skills. The definite best way to learn a language is by living in a country of native speakers.
― 3. How would you find the internship program in WIZE NET?
My picture of the working environment at WIZE NET has not changed since the Interview after a few weeks working here. All the projects were interesting and I enjoyed most of the tasks. The shrinking communications problems made actual two-way discourse possible helping to solve the problems even faster. The workflows were supported by technologies that are on par with the industry standard. Things like Docker Containers and Continuous Integration are often used and very convenient.
― 4. How about your next step?
For now, I want to return to Germany and do my Masters in Computer Science. Then I want to work in an international environment with opportunities to work in foreign countries like Japan for some time. However, I would like to head into a more R&D connected field of Computer Science.
― 5. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Hmm, not much really. Like I said, I liked the time here and would do the same decision again.