Firratu Syifa Saqifa（高１） / Sinéad O’ Connor (英語科）
O’Connor: Please introduce yourself.
Syifa: Ok, so my name is Firratu Saqifa but you can call me Syifa because it’s easier. And I come from Indonesia, from an island called Sumatra. I’m from the city of Palembang.
O’C: What is Sumatra Island famous for?
S: It’s so big - I’m from Southern Sumatra. So, it’s famous for spicy food and bridges.
O’C: When did you come to Japan?
S: I came to Japan last year in March.
O’C: Why did you decide to come to Japan?
S: I wanted to be an exchange student - to study abroad, but my parents told me that I shouldn’t go too far. They are very worried - they treat me like a little child so they said Japan is best. Also, I like Japanese food and culture, too. I heard that Japanese people are punctual.
O’C: What Japanese culture did you like before you came here - like, manga or anime?
S: No, I don’t know how to read manga and I don’t know anything about anime. The thing that mpost Indonesian people know and like is matcha. They love it so much. Also sushi, and how punctual Japanese people are.
O’C: Did you experience any culture shock?
S: Yeah, but not so much because Indonesian and Japanese culture is similar because we are Asian. We are not so different from each other…so…I’m not sure…maybe the escalator? Here, we have to stand on the left and if are in a hurry you can run on the right side. In Indonesia we don’t have that rule, you can stand anywhere.
O’C: What do you think of Friends School students?
S: They are very friendly and they want to, all of my friends, like, everyone wanted to talk to me but they are very shy. So, sometimes I want to say hi to them - I started by myself so they can say hi back to me. But, yeah they are very friendly. They think of me as their real friend. They didn’t see me as an exchange student they saw me as their real friend and that always made me happy.
O’C: At school there were many events throughout the year - which was your favourite?
S: My favourite was…I think the school festival because for that I made the decorations with my friends during summer vacation. I came to school a lot to prepare and then on the day of school festival I could see the things that I made with friends - all the candies - and the things that I painted. So it felt like, “oh my god - I did this. I did something for the school.” It was all so fantastic!! Everyone did great so I love school festival so much.
O’C: What did you like about everyday school life here at FGS?
S: I liked that…because I have my own schedule I can’t stay all day with my HR but when I can go with them I can enjoy classes. Then, between classes we have 10 minutes break so we have time to relax and talk. I love every day. Also, I take art class with junior high students so I have so many experiences - I have many friends in every grade. So, I enjoyed every day.
O’C: How did you communicate with your friends?
S: First, before I could speak Japanese I spoke English but in a very easy and slow English. Then, also all of my friends tried hard to speak to me - we used easy English and then gestures so we can all understand. Then as time went by I could understand Japanese more so I can talk a lot with them. I also use LINE so we can go out on the weekend and have fun. I spent a lot of time with my friends.
O’C: Was it difficult to be an exchange student here in Japan?
S: Maybe a little, because I have my own rules. I am a Muslim so I have to be strict about food or prayer time. It’s not that difficult but there aren’t many Muslims in Japan so it’s not so easy. But my friends helped me when we went out to restaurants. Other than that I had no difficulties. I could do every thing.
O’C: How did you come to be so good at Japanese?
S: Um..I, honestly, I don’t like to study. I don’t like textbooks but I think it teaches me a lot of grammar and each day I can know new grammar. I can use it in daily life. I talked a lot with many people and I made a lot of mistakes - silly mistakes but it was good. I asked my host mother for help and my friends.
O’C: Do you have a favourite Japanese word?
S: みんなちがってみんないい。I like it because when I try to translate it into Indonesian or even English I can’t find a similar meaning. I like the meaning because it says all things - みんな - it is not only people but also things. Everything - so I really like it.
O’C: What did you learn about yourself while being on exchange?
S: I learned that I can find my true self - I can find me that I didn’t know before. I didn’t know that I’m this kind of person before. So, kind of personal things like, um, I can’t say it in words but I can feel it in my soul that this is the true me. Even far from home and family I am me! I can also find how to accept that kind of things. I’m getting older and wiser. I’m not just playing.
O’C: Do you have any message for the students?
S: For everyone - don’t be too shy. Just push yourself to do something even though you feel that you can’t do it because if you push yourself you’ll find that you can do it. That’s how I tried to find friends - that’s why I feel like I have had a lot of friends and a lot of good experiences here.