The Boy Who Chased His Dream
Finding the strength and courage to follow your dreams can be hard, especially when there is a lot of uncertainty. Not many would take the leap of faith, but determined mechanical design engineer, Sharull Shafik Bin Jon Rahmat, dove head-first into a sea of challenges with no hesitation to chase his dream in the Land of the Rising Sun.
While some are still thinking of where to apply for internships during their degrees, Sharull had his heart set on Japan since he was only in high school. The pull of learning the Japanese culture and traditions made him fell in love with the country. The innovative technology and robotics in the country also feeds into his interest, as well as the chance of experiencing four different seasons including winter and Sakura blooming season. With a heart full of enthusiasm, he scouted the internet for any opportunity to get an internship while he was studying in UTP.
“I searched on a website called KOPRA.org, which is a platform where all internship and jobs opportunities related to East Asia are listed. For some of them, I approached the companies directly through their website.”
After two months of waiting, his application results came through. Sharull was offered an internship with the Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation in Kawasaki, a city in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. Though he was also offered local internship placements, Sharull knew it in his heart that he should choose Kawasaki. And with the help and support of his family and UTP, that was exactly what he did.
“Even though there are challenges in doing an internship in Japan, such as financial limitations and learning the Japanese language, I decided to choose Japan. It was like a dream come true and a great opportunity for me to learn new things and explore Japan.”
Finding His Footing
Adjusting yourself to a new environment can be tough, and Sharull was not immune to it. Navigating through the first three months of his internship with zero knowledge of the Japanese language was his biggest hurdle. The challenge was not with his English-speaking European company, but with the people and facilities in his neighbourhood. Sharull had to adapt and quickly learn to understand, speak, and read Japanese to go about his everyday routine.
“It was hard to find Halal food and it was difficult to read, especially when I need to get to work by train. Everything was in Japanese.”
This has led to Sharull feeling inadequate. The feeling of not being able to survive in a foreign country started to creep into his mind. He even felt like giving up and going back to Malaysia when the language barrier created issues. Motivation was low and no matter how much he studied, he felt like it wasn’t enough. Thankfully for Sharull, his family back in Malaysia kept his head high and pushed him to not give up. The strong-willed young man powered through.
“My family encouraged me to not give up and keep studying. I still felt like quitting and going back to Malaysia, but I believe if I had given up, it will not bring me any benefit. So, I continued on and kept in mind why I was there; I always reminded myself to achieve my goals.”
Friendships & Events
There is always a rainbow after a storm and for Sharull’s can-do attitude, it wasn’t long until he started socialising and participating in a number of events and societies that gave him an extensive and life-long network of friends. He joined the Malaysian Society in Japan that helped him immensely during the early stages of internship. The group shared life stories and advice on how to respect and adapt with the Japanese culture. They also helped him find Halal food, which is an important aspect of being a Muslim in a foreign country.
Sharull also joined the International Student Committee in Japan and received more exposure to not only the Japanese students, but also students of other countries such as Korea and Ireland.
“We have a casual event called ‘Meet and Greet’ where we shared our experiences about life in Japan and our home countries. Besides Japanese culture, I learnt a lot about culture in other countries as well and it really opened up my mind and made me more ambitious to work globally.”
Aside from societies, Sharull was also part of two sports teams which were the Yokohama hockey and volleyball team. Participating in sports kept him physically active and helped him learn a thing or two about Japanese sportsmanship.
“The way they did the training was very different from Malaysia. Even though the seniority in a team is important, they always respect each other.”
Advice for New Interns
Now residing in the Miyagi prefecture as a Mechanical Design Engineer for Alps Alpine Co. Ltd, Sharull enjoys living his dreams but more importantly, sharing his dreams with others. During his internship, he had a memorable experience of bringing his sister over to visit him. It was the first time his sister was able to travel abroad, so he brought her to Niigata to see snow. His wife, who was stranded in Malaysia for one year due to COVID-19, is now living with him in Miyagi. Sharull finds happiness in spending quality time with his family.
“After two years of working in Japan, I managed to bring my family to travel here. It’s the fondest memory for me as it was my first goal to bring the whole family here after I got the offer to work in Japan. Seeing the smiles on my family members’ faces while they excitedly explore Japan makes me so happy and I plan to bring them here again.”
When asked for his advice to interns who are seeking international internships, Sharull stresses on being positive and to always strive for your dreams. He urges students to go with what their heart says, plan, and act on it. Not just think of it. He says that effort is a must, especially in a country that has an entirely different language and culture. He closes with one final advice.
“Lastly, the most important thing, is to never give up. Sometimes there is some point in time where you feel like you want to give up. In that time, you must reflect on yourself, on why you started, on the goal you wanted to achieve. Everyone has felt like giving up in many situations. It’s on you to take it as a challenge or to lose to it. Never put ‘give up’ into your life decisions. Look back on your goal, find the mistake, and try to solve it.”
Published: 3 August 2021