Jun Mogi / Foreign language trainee
In April 2009, the foreign language training in Guadalajara (Mexico) that I had greatly anticipated was cut short and I had to return home after only two weeks as a result of the H1N1 influenza virus outbreak. I had a hurried but precious experience on that assignment, and I was reassigned to Chile at the end of May.
The place where I am training, Valparaíso / Viña del Mar, is a coastal town located 120 km northwest of the capital, Santiago. Valparaíso is an historic city which was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. The town comprises murals which match the colorful homes here and create its characteristic atmosphere.
Viña, on the other hand, is a newly developed resort area symbolized by the casino in the center of town and its beautiful beaches. What a luxurious place I am training in—a World Heritage Site as well as a resort area.
When many people hear about foreign language trainee, they imagine the carefree life that they enjoyed during their school days. While it is true that these situations are the same in the sense that we are students when we participate in either of them, I feel daily pressure now because I am here for work, and dealing with the distinct variety of Spanish spoken in Chile is an uphill battle.
I take from six to eight hours of classes everyday with students who are around twenty years old (more than 90% of them are from the US). There are very few Japanese here, and I became something of a celebrity after the story of the first Japanese person coming to the university ran in newspapers and on TV.
There is not much to do on days off here in the winter, so we usually have drinking parties called Carrete at friends’ houses or at restaurants. The characteristic local drinks are wine and pisco (liquor made from grapes). Pisco is a very popular drink that is served mixed with juice or as a sour cocktail.
On weekends, I also get a sweat going playing “ultimate” (Frisbee) with Chilean friends. Although this is a sport that I had only heard the name of in Japan, it is very popular here, just behind soccer and tennis.
Summer is coming here in South America, and I am very much looking forward to seeing what it is like here in this resort area in Chile, known as the country with the greatest number of beauties in the world.
Half of my foreign language training has already flown by. As I reflect on my time in training, of course I consider the language that I have learned, but it also strikes me that this is a precious opportunity to get away from work for a while and really think about things, a great opportunity for personal growth.
I still have a long way to go in terms of language ability and experience, but I intend to make the most of the time I have left in training and hope that you will have high expectations of my activities going forward from next year.
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.54 (November, 2009)