BY Ellouze Khalil , Exchange student
I came from Tunisia in April 2007. I’m enrolled in biotechnology master program in Kochi University of Agriculture. So far, I’m the only Tunisian in Shikoku. Well, it has some advantage and some inconveniences. But I’m happy to be here. Kochi welcomed me with open arms.
I used to have a fast paced life, living in a permanently crowded big city: the capital. That is why I found myself a little bit "out of my shoes" at first in Monobe campus in Nankoku. I couldn't neither speak nihongo, nor read kanji…it was funny to try to explain with gesture to supermarket workers that I needed a hose pipe, ear cleaner, bleach… Try to imagine me explaining with gesture the word “condom” to an old woman working in “conbini”!
In Japan when you enter a shop or convenience store you can hear the famous “irashaimase”. It sounded for me like “Assalemou alaykom”=“konnichiwa”, which we use every time in this circumstances in my country, and when you hear it you have to reply the same (kind of greeting). During my first month, I was replying “irashaimase” every time I heard it. Go figure!
I have also found that everything looked “mini size” to me: cars, streets, plates, cups, tomatoes, my room, my bath and also Japanese people. It was so good to feel bigger. For the first time in my life I knew how tall basketball players feel.
Tunisians do eat bread as often as Japanese people eat rice. But here bread is expensive, so I started to prepare rice with some Tunisian spices every day. It is so delicious. In one month, I ate as much rice as I ate in my whole life in my country.
Now 8 months have passed. I have become a little bit famous for Tosajin thanks to some Tunisian food cooking classes, some events in which I introduced Tunisia, and Tunisian culture. I traveled to Shimanto, went for picnics to Ino, a hot spring in Aki, but there are still so many interesting challenges, so many hidden villages to visit.
Taken from vol.23 (April & May, 2008. New attractions of Kochi City after the merger)