Chong Jin Fu
A Fateful Journey—Taiwan
“Jin Fu, although we are the same age and you graduated later than us, we’re still quite envious that you can study in the department you wanted…”
A classmate from middle school once said this to me. Friends of the same age graduated and started employment at the age of 22, but I took my time and did not get my diploma until I was 26.
There have been several turning points in my study abroad journey, but this has also made me more earnest during the process, and I also found the Dept. of Japanese Language and Culture that I was really yearning for.
Why was Taiwan my fateful destination?
In fact, when I was 18, I had already decided to study in Taiwan. Having participated in various speeches, debates, and competitions since I was young, I developed a strong interest in linguistics. I started learning Japanese by myself in middle school, kindling my ambition to be a translator. But after graduating from high school, I enrolled in various schools in Taiwan, only to find that because I chose the “science group” in high school, I first had to enroll at the Division of Preparatory Programs for Overseas Chinese Students at National Taiwan Normal University to transfer from the “science group” to the “humanities group”. After completion, then I would be assigned to a program based on my graduation results. At that time, I was often worried my performance would not be good enough to be assigned to the school I wanted. And after an unexpected turn of events, I therefore went to study abroad at the ABK Japanese language school in Tokyo, Japan.
However, half a year later, on March 11, 2011, the Tohoku earthquake brought an end to my short study-abroad trip.
For a while, I lost my focus and returned to Sabah. I moonlighted as a translator for a Japanese travel agency, a cheerleading coach, an interior decorator, and a dancer. But when all was said and done, that kind of tossing about was not a long-term solution, and I realized that only after completing my studies could I arrive at my real goals. So, with the determination to succeed or die trying, I made the decision that I didn’t dare make two years before and applied to the program I considered before (National Taiwan Normal University). Fate is really a mysterious thing, because although I took a long detour, I finally returned to my original decision to go back to Taiwan.
Studying in Taiwan, establishing an attitude
“I have to enroll in SU’s Dept. of Japanese Language and Culture anyway!”
I was already three years’ late compared to other students my age, and there was no going back. I remembered that every day I worried myself at National Taiwan Normal University previously about my progress. It was only then that I realized that my grades in middle and high school were mediocre, not because I didn’t know how to study, but because I didn’t apply myself. As a result of this, after half a year in the spring class at National Taiwan Normal University, among 100 current students, I ranked among the top three, winning an Outstanding Overseas Chinese Student Scholarship from the Overseas Community Affairs Council and was admitted to my first-choice school: the Soochow University Dept. of Japanese Language and Culture.
In SU’s Japanese department, everything I saw, heard, and felt was different than in Japan. The coursework is similar, but with completely different points of entry and interpretations. The curiosity building up over the past three years of not studying Japanese exploded in an instant. I didn’t disregard the basic courses simply because I already had a Japanese background, but instead I more attentively absorbed the knowledge and theories I hadn’t heard of in Japan.
Everything was so fresh and interesting, and I joined the Student Association of Japanese department during my freshman year and started a life of fulfilling university club activities.
In my sophomore year, I took over the post of president of the Student Association of Japanese department. This is actually not an easy task for an overseas Chinese student not being born here, but during the process I gained countless valuable experiences. I often shared with my younger classmates that studying abroad is really not just about the numbers on the transcript. In order to get along with Taiwanese students fluently, it is necessary to integrate and learn Taiwanese culture—isn’t this the essence of studying abroad?
I also organized events and served in the Student Association of Japanese department, satisfied my passion for dance in the dance club, participated in a group serving aboriginal children in Hualien’s rural areas, and volunteered for countless Japanese translation opportunities. My junior year finally presented me with the chance to return to Japan, where I went to Meikai University in Chiba Prefecture for exchange study. Having already had experience studying in Japan, I did not have the so-called “fear of strangers period”. I immediately had a lot of close interactions and learning with local dance groups and language-exchange organizations.
My academic performance has allowed me to cultivate good relationships with my teachers, and as a result, I received many opportunities and recommendations. In the club activities, I also met many other outstanding students, opening doors one after another and leading to many interesting journeys. The four years were like a teacher who taught me valuable lessons through the total experience of university life. When I graduated, I finally achieved the graduation goal I set during my junior year: I won all three awards available to graduates—the Academic Excellence Award, Service Excellence Award, and a membership certificate in the Phi Tau Phi Scholastic Honor Society.
After graduating, I returned to Malaysia to work as a Japanese tutor for two years, then returned to Taiwan working in a Japanese insurance company in Taiwan. There I engaged in translation work involving Chinese, English, Malay, Cantonese, and Japanese languages with hospitals all over the world.
Now I’ve changed track somewhat, working full-time in real estate sales consulting at IQI Global, an international real estate company. Besides sharing my real estate knowledge on YouTube, I also work as a Japanese translator. The journey of studying in Taiwan inspired me to be the best in everything. It was during those seven years that I also met my wife. All the memories, emotions, and experiences that Taiwan has given are one of the important driving forces for me to pursue even greater peaks in the days to come.