Like so many others hoping to study in Japan in 2020, Jose Moreno was forced to delay his plans as COVID-19 spread across the world. But with patience and Go! Go! Nihon’s help, Jose was able to arrive in Japan in December to begin his journey learning Japanese in Japan in January 2021.
In September 2020, Go! Go! Nihon started a petition urging the Japanese government to allow language students from overseas into Japan. At that time, the government invalidated visas as a response to COVID-19, leaving countless numbers in limbo about when, or if, they could move to Japan.
Read our interview with Jose to learn more about what his experience has been like, from leaving his home in Spain to arriving and learning Japanese in Japan in 2021.
*Note that responses have been edited for clarity and length.
Before arriving in Japan
When were you supposed to arrive in Japan and when did you actually arrive?
My entry to Japan was scheduled for June, or July, I don’t remember right now. In the end I managed to enter in December to start school in January.
What was it like for you when you were waiting to hear back about when you could enter Japan?
Well, honestly, that wait was the worst of all. I couldn’t picture clearly the moment I would finally get to Japan and all those continuous cancellation. And the feeling of the possible loss of everything that I had been working with you on for, I believe, more than a year. It was a very horrible feeling. Of course, at no time did I think about canceling anything, I wanted to come and I would do it whatever the cost.
How did this delay affect your life or your plans?
Luckily I had savings since I closed my business because of COVID-19. I got a temporary job in Spain during the months that the whole process was delayed and I managed to come here with my savings almost intact.
How was the Go! Go! Nihon during the application process?
I could not have done it without Go! Go! Nihon. I think you do a really important job and I personally recommend you to everyone who asks me. I created an account on TikTok about Japan and there I send everyone who asks me about coming to Japan to you. I hope I didn’t overwhelm your network!
Travelling to and arriving in Japan
What was the process for leaving your home country?
In the weeks before you come to Japan, you have to do daily temperature controls. I had a PCR test done one day before my flight and once in Japan, they did another test at the airport. Until they have the results of that test, you can’t get out of the airport.
On the plane I had to wear a mask and protective screen at all times.
What was the process upon arriving in Japan?
Everything is very controlled and measured. They make you go through several controls and they place all the passengers in chairs with the required distance to make us pass in a controlled way. There are many measures to be aware of, but the Japanese make everything fast, comfortable and dynamic.
After the coronavirus test we have to wait again in a corridor on a numbered chair and once you have the test results you can get your luggage.
What about your quarantine accommodation and transportation from the airport?
At the airport I had transport waiting for me and two others. It took us to the door of the hotel where we would quarantine for 14 days. It was all organized by the school and through Go! Go! Nihon.
The hotel was amazing, 4 stars, and I got several vouchers of 1000 yen to be able to spend in the hotel store and restaurants. I basically spent my time reviewing Japanese, and playing Fortnite with my cousin in Spain.
When did you start school?
How many days and how many hours per day are you attending class in-person?
Five days a week, 4 hours a day.
What measures has your school taken during this time against COVID-19?
Every day they take our temperature. They ventilate the classrooms constantly despite the cold, there is sanitising gel everywhere and they offer an online option for when someone is not well, thinks they have symptoms or simply worries about going out due to COVID-19.
How are you finding your learning experience so far?
It’s very good. For my pace, it’s a little fast, but I think I am one of the slowest in class so I suppose it is a normal pace.
Advice to others
“If you have the opportunity to do it, [then do it]. Go step-by-step and eventually, you will be enjoying the food on the plane thinking, I’m really doing it!”
If you want to start learning Japanese in Japan in 2021, make sure to contact us so you can get the best help and guidance.