Sunday, April 22, 2012

The First Step To Becoming An Engineer

"Work beautifully"

Higurashi Kaoru Chief
Uchida Human Development Co., Ltd.


The phrase above has nothing to do with putting up make-up to make yourself look beautiful at your working place. Speaking of which, I'm neither a fan of woman putting up excessive make-ups which conversely make them look kinda scary sometimes haha!

That two words above we taught to us, which refer to the appearance you portray when you work; the way you communicate with another person, your sitting posture while you are working on your assignment, the enthusiasm you show when you are in the process of completing a task, etc. If you apply the right way accordingly, they will certainly look beautiful.

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Homemade breakfast - croquette in between English muffin with lettuce and mayonnaise. Hot Milo drink to go along with the two muffins.

Three weeks has come and gone and it's just another five days to go before I get my first paycheque in my life. Just thinking about it already gives me a sense of excitement. However, when I think about my house rent, electrical, water and gas bills, that is not a happy story at all haha!

Anyway, I shall start from where I stop the last time I blogged about my training. There are several phases which will end in early June and I am currently in the second phase - the longest one (3 weeks). In this second phase, we learn about the foundations of information technology, fundamental business knowledge, foundations on computer, network and database. Before this phase began, we sat for a diagnostic test to measure our level of knowledge on those topics. At the same time, we will also sit for a test at the end of each topic. Feels like going back to school sometimes haha!

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Tokyo station at eight in the morning. All four escalators were set to ascend to the ground floor. I have not found out 
how should one gets to the platform if he wants to descend lol!

Classes starts at nine and end at five, and we will spend another thirty minutes writing the daily reports. One hour of lunch break plus ten-minute break every one hour or so are given through the course. The first "culture shock" I got in the early stage was how strict the chief (that's what we call our facilitators) regarding punctuality. If the time is 10:39 and a ten-minute break follows after that, we will have to return by 10:49, not 10:50, which most of us will usually do, round it to the nearest minute.

But well, this is Japan and that is how things work. Not even a single minute is left wasted.

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The crossing that I take every morning to the training place.

There are 47 employees in total, coming from nine different companies - all IT related ones for this phase of training. Out of the 47, only two of them are non-Japanese; and you guess it correctly, the two are from my company. Joining me is Samitha from Sri Lanka and the two of us are some sort like the odd ones out.

I talked to some of them from other companies and they told me they don't have a single non-Japanese workers in their company. Now I understand the way they perceive us; as if we are aliens lol! I was quite astonished by that fact, but at the same time grateful to myself because there is a great mixture of Japanese and non-Japanese workers in my company. Damn rojak and muhibah I tell you.

During the casual chat, I also heard scary stories about other companies, that require their new employees to go to their company in the morning before heading to the training place. Guess what they were made to do at the company? I'm pretty sure you will be super surprised. They were asked to clean the staircase, one step by one step, with pieces of cloths. This is damn shocking and scary. I am not sure if this is a kisah benar or cerita rekaan semata-mata where they just made up just to spice up our days though haha!

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Tokyo Station at six in the evening. Renovation work to turn this building into Tokyo Station Hotel will be completed by the end of this year.

During the first few days, everyone seemed to be damn serious. Even between my group members, they talked to each other using honorific language (keigo). I understand in some ways it is a good practice before we enter the real business world, but sometimes I just feel that using the keigo just create a huge gap in between us.

To me personally, using keigo among friends makes me feel uncomfortable. However, as this is the culture here, I guess we just need to remember a popular Malay idiom - "masuk dapur memasak, masuk bilik tidur menguap" (do as the Romans do). If you'd realised it, I have actually modified the Malay version and made my very own idiom haha!

However, after some time, everyone began to get loose and became more cincai. We can now talk crappy stuff without really feeling the pressure to use keigo everytime we have conversations. We do silly stuff, for example by bowing to each other as much as ninety degrees, in a sarcastic way lol! And one of my group members gave me a new nickname, Karubi =.=

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There is this Thai restaurant - Aroyna Tabeta near Tokyo Station which is popular among the Japanese.

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Fried bitter melon and egg, fried minced pork and salty egg, spicy pork curry.

Everyday at the beginning of the lectures, someone will be assigned to be the ketua kelas. His job is pretty simple, just like what a class monitor usually do - ask everyone to stand up and wish the facilitators ohayou gozaimasu (good morning) or yoroshiku onegaishimasu (I'm counting on your teachings), and close it with arigato gozaimashita (thank you) at the end of every sessions.

After two weeks, I was requested to be the class monitor last Friday haha! That reminds me to my time in Primary One when I used to be the assistant class monitor. It seems that my promotion from an assistant class monitor to becoming a class monitor took me 18 years. And that only lasted for a day lol!

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Had a nice dinner on a Friday night at Gyoza-no Osho (餃子の王将). Gyoza with fried rice and fried chicken set meal.

The day will start of with a 3-minute speech. During the first week, a couple of individuals will volunteer to go in front and talk about a pre-determined topic for three minutes, and then receive feedback and comments from the floor. After a week, the presentation was done within the group members. My group came out with a good idea in deciding who will present on a certain day. Everyone will write out their main points into a paper and place it on our group table every morning. We will then vote by pointing to the article we would like to hear the most at the same moment. The one with the most votes will give a speech on that day.

During the first day, I did something different from the rest. It's not really a big deal actually; I only use a blue paper to write my points. That made everyone went "woooahh" when they saw it haha! All the others five decided to choose mine and I was the only odd one pointing to another article. Damn awkward haha! And the end of the speech session, the chief took my article and showed it to the whole classroom. That was the day I became even more well-known in the classroom haha!

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That blue piece of paper is what that launched me to stardom lol!

At the end of week one, the chief made a surprising announcement. We would change groups. Just when we started to get used with our group members, we would have to change seats and get new group members. That came as a huge surprise; reminds me of the reality game show "Survivor" when there was one season where the tribe members got switched that ultimately changed the dynamic of the game.

There was one evening after our training when I was walking to the train station that we talked about our abilities to speak foreign languages. My colleague, Suzuki then asked me to teach her some Malay phrases. Usually when we learn a new language, the first phrase we will learn would me "I love you". So I told her in Malay, it's "Saya suka kamu.".

She misheard that and said, "Saya suka kamo". Just in case you don't know, kamo (鴨) in Japanese means duck haha wtf!

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Waiting for trains after work at Akihabara Station.

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The train interval is about two minutes but the sea of human just never subside. However, luckily that the Japanese are the world's most civilised people 
that they don't push but line up properly. 

After three weeks of taking trains to work, I have learned a few tricks and lessons. The trains will be usually more packed on Monday morning than other days. Monday blues which made everyone woke up late I guess. To avoid the crowd, it is either you go out thirty minutes earlier or later.  I usually follow the former because it is just too risky to go out at the last moment.

Talking about the craziness of the trains here, there was one morning when the train I took was super crowded. I don't know what words should I use to describe it but pokoknya it is super crowded. Not enough with that, the train suddenly came to stationary in between two stations for more than five minutes because apparently there was some accident in one of the stations.

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This can be considered quite a spacious coach. So you can imagine how much worse it is in the morning.

A lady who was standing less than one centimeters right in front of me seemed to be suffocated. She was totally squeezed in between the commuters very tightly. She took off her mask and asked me if I could make some space for her. I tried my best to step back to give her some breathing space but there were simply no room for me to move back. She then started to cry, in the super packed train. Damn dramatic. She got down at the very next station and I also saw another lady who seemed to almost lost her consciousness and being helped out of the train.

Crazy stuff I tell you. I wonder if I'll turn crazy one day seeing all these crazy things almost everyday haha!

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Pretzel from Auntie Annes. Suzuki brought me to get these at the stall at the basement of Tokyo Station.

And on last Friday evening, after the end of our training, we returned to our company in Akihabara as they prepared a welcoming party for the new employees. The people there were super nice and friendly but most importantly, crazy haha! There was this senpai one year my senior who asked me, "So, where does Calvin Klein come from?" I told her I'm not sure where that brand originated from, but she was actually asking where I came from lol! I tried to correct her and told her my name's not Calvin Klein. "No, no. I'll call you CK1 from now on," was her reply lol!

This senior can really talk crap because when I said I come from Taiping, everyone but her gave me a clueless look. In less than 0.38 seconds, she responded by saying, "Yeaaaahh! I know that place! It's a very warm place, isn't it?"

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With Mr Kumo (which means clouds in Japanese lol!), Samitha and his Sri Lankan senior, Suzuki and another senior (pic credit: Ishizuka-san).

I was like, "A-B-U-T-H-E-N?!" haha wtf!

However, not everyone were as smart as her. Some weren't sure where Malaysia is located but yet they still die die wanted to show that they know it. These kiasu people wanna appear smart; so they gave me some landmarks that they "thought" is found in Malaysia. "Merlion" and "Bali island" were two of them. The most amazing one however, was "Jakarta"! I was like how on earth can the capital of Indonesia to be located in Malaysia!!!

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My tiramisu birthday cake that Kai Cung bought for me on my birthday eve. I only ate it three days later lol!

The conversation then shifted to topics about Sri Lanka and one of my Sinhalese senior told us a tale about elephant. In Sri Lanka, it is believed that if a person runs vertically through a running elephant, his lifespan will become longer. It actually makes sense because come and think about it, it is almost certain that that person will lose his life at that very moment if he ever attempts doing that. But if he successfully runs through the elephant, then he will live on which indirectly makes his lifespan longer. Correct or not?

There were more endless stories to tell but I guess I shall stop for now. Our guru besar a.k.a. Mr CEO ended up a little drunk but he still made it a point to send the three of us to the elevator. Just one last word, pardon me for having the elephant story to abruptly end this entry haha!

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