My Life Story - How I manage to go to Japan fully sponsored?

Some of you readers (if I got any left) know that I went to Japan early 2007. As I mentioned the trip was fully sponsored by both USM and Japanese Government. The lodging and food was sponsored by Japanese Government while the sweaters were sponsored by USM (it was not really a sponsor but government officers can claim allowances to buy winter clothes if he go to colder countries during colder seasons).

The story on how I manage to go there was quite simple actually.

On middle 2006, my current boss went back from a two months training (or was it 2 weeks training?) and encouraged us to take an exam. The training he attended is about Malaysia IT Professional Exam (MITPE). The training was organized by METEOR and sponsored by AOTS. Like I mentioned, he encouraged us to take the exam because its free (at that time). He provided the materials and teach the classes. Being a lazy person (or busy - depends on what do you think of me), I didn't attend the classes.

Well, forward to the exam. The exam itself was quite challenging. Its not hard but challenging. The exam asked questions in every corner of IT field. From networking, programming, system development, system analysis & design, current trend in IT field, hardware and software and a lots more. Its got two papers and most people just managed to shake their head after finished answering the exam.

Fast forward to 2-3 months later. We've got the results. From 30-40 staffs and students taken the exam, only 4 passed. My boss, me and 2 staff and student from School of Computer Sciences. My feeling at that time? Of course I'm proud with my achievement. My boss usually told people about it and that's includes the VC. And as usual, the humble side of me played much role during those time. I managed to say, I got lucky or "Oh, its my duty to know everything about IT", or "Oh, the questions were same as in the books". Most of the time, I used the I got lucky phrase.

October 2006, someone from METEOR contacted me. She sent me forms and all sort of guidelines and informations about training in Japan. And she gave me 3 working days to fill all the forms and fulfilled the requirement asked in the forms. I went to PRO to get a brochure about my organization, I photostat-ed my IC, I managed to fill the form in 1 day but have to wait until next Monday to get my boss signature. But the thing was I managed to convince the METEOR staff that I can fax first the form then I will courier the forms and stuffs. I managed to send it on the third working days. Heh. I didn't thought I will get the reply but I still prayed that AOTS will allowed me to go to Japan.

December 2006, I've got the reply. Yeah, I've got to go to Japan but I have only 1 day to reply. I sign the form and submit it by fax and post. My flight was on 9th January 2007. And I need to go to Japanese consulate to make a visa for me. That December was very hectic for me.

1. I went to Immigration Department to make an international pasport. Yeah, I don't have one. I stressed to the officer I need it urgently because I need it to make a visa to go to Japan. The officer said "Ya, ya. Saya tahu. Datang esok. Siap esok." Melayang RM300 kot.

2. Went back to Immigration Department and took the passport. Went to Wisma-apa-ntah at Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah to make a visa. Yes, Japanese Consulate is at the wisma. What floor I didn't remember. The people manning the counter asked me to come back in 2-3 days.

3. Went back to get the visa.

4. Fill internal form and wrote letters to get a permission from VC to attend the training.

5. Wrote a letter to claim the allowances (they gave the allowances 2 weeks before I got back from Japan).

6. Still managed to do some work.

7. Fill the annual Laporan Penilaian Prestasi form.

8. The best thing was, I didn't get the flight ticket until after Christmas. The reason, there was a slight delay in getting the ticket. Yeah. And I need to went back to the Wisma-apa-ntah to get the ticket from the travel agency there.

9. Went shopping. Bought 1 sweater + 2 indoor sweaters + 2 new shirt + 1 new travel bag.

10. Went to money changer. Brought 20000 yen.

So, that's how I've got to go to Japan for the training. I admit that the training gave me certain exposure about the IT field. And also it make me acknowledge that I'm a sort of independent person. I can live and survived during my 6 weeks there without prior knowledge about AOTS, YKC, Yokohama itself, the district where YKC is located, the Tokyo and other things in Japan.

Maybe the other things that make me survived there because I met with Ghazaly, Hanum, Htet, Emma, A, Vincent, Rowen and Koko. There are 23 of us but I'm very closed to the persons that I mentioned above. Others are Walisa, B, Thuzar, Chart, Sukhi and of course his 3 friends from Mongolia, and 2 other guys from Philippines. I remember well their faces but I can't grasp their name from my long term memories.

The staffs at YKC also kind and nice. The counter staffs, the aunties and uncles at the dining hall (everytime we went there, they greeted us) that provided a very nice meal every single time, and of course Eguchi-san (our program coordinators). Living in Japan during winter was nice. Its colder than Malaysia but when the storm come, we were advised not to went out.

I still remember my time there. The 8.30 a.m - 4.30 p.m where we attended classes, the participation in green tea ceremony, my exploration around Tokyo and Yokohama, the food and the night where some of us played Counter Strike together and etc. It is truly the experience that I can't forget.

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