Genesis / by Levko Ivanchuk

Short manual: how to get into Japan

So, let me tell you a story about how it all actually happened that I managed to begin a trip to Japan. In fact, as many things do now, it all started with an email, that simply said - "Canada Japan Co-op Program". Simply put, it is a possibility to work in Japan as a student. At that time I already was on my Co-op work term at University of Manitoba Human Computer Interaction lab. Canada Japan Co-op Program is not hosted by my University, although we do have one of the best Co-op Programs in all of Canada. Yet, it seems that people are reluctant to go as far as Japan for their internships. Anyway, Canada Japan Co-op Program is hosted at UBC, however, I do have to thank Gerri Acorn, Linda Latour and Lisa Wise for getting the information about the program to me and helping along the way. Their support has been truly excellent, even at hardest of times.  

At first, I had a short interview with a program itself, in October, 2013. That was only an interview to get access to the job postings, never mind job interviews themselves. Anyhow, after a very short Japanese test and a couple of other questions, I had 10 days to prepare packages for 8 potential jobs. 

Interviews started in January 2013. At the time I was in Ukraine, and since all of the interviews started at 9 AM Japanese time, for me it was 2 AM at night. Factor into that what was going on in Ukraine in January, I was literary having interviews while watching people die on TV. Not a lot of people have that experience, mind you. 

In total, I had 3 interviews, but 3 companies hired from paper applications, without any interviews. So after interviews, I knew I only had 6 positions that could potentially hire me. Two of my interviews were with NTT (Japanese version of AT&T) and one with Honda Research Institute. About the work "Honda" - yes, exactly that Honda that just drove past your window. The one that makes cars, motorcycles, engines, whatever. Even having an interview with them was an honour for me. 

In fact, I did get that position with Honda. Nothing else to say, really. Their option for a seven month work term, commencing in September 2014 I have accepted gratefully. 

I don't really know much about the work I will be doing, however, I do know this. I haven't signed anything yet, however, I am confident I will so everything will stay secret from now on. 

My trip to Japan started, paradoxically, from a trip to Kiev, Ukraine. Early in the morning, after arriving to the city I never liked, I got the same feeling I had back in 2010, when I was moving to Canada. That feeling as if your should is being taken away from you. In fact, it is you who submits your own soul with a pack of documents through a bullet proof window, hoping to get out from the world that surrounds you, expecting to see something better on the other side. 

This time I got lucky again, because I was not alone. Emotional support is always important, and this time it was just like in 2010 - nothing has changed. Just Kiev got more dirty, Maidan is now a bum camp, and people leave Ukraine just like they used to 4 years ago. Surreal and sad landscape, however, somehow, it is not touching me in any way. Maybe because I don't care anymore ... 

Kiev as seem from postcards

Kiev people don't see until they get there - undeveloped sites and abandoned buildings. 

It was a wise decision to stay out of public transport and simply walk around. Somewhat good knowledge on Kiev helped, and after visiting the Japanese embassy to submit my papers, toughest about what to do next came spontaneously.

I won't mention the trip back to Lviv, as it was a horrible old train car that was taking us in sauna conditions back to USSR, as it seemed. We were also thrown away from it at 3 AM, since that was when the train stopped in Lviv. Next stop will be Japan...