“My father was screaming at me on the phone a few weeks ago. He said, ‘Get back home to Egypt! I don’t want to see you in a body bag or coffin.’ So I told him I’d be safer in Japan even if I got infected with the coronavirus. Medical treatment is better. Plus I’m supposed to start working in April after grad school (sucks that graduation ceremony got canceled though). Although the company sent an email when the outbreak started, telling me to stay home. They’ll send me the computers, instead. How’s that for a first day on the job? Work from home right away.

“It’s been a tough couple of years for me. But I’m lucky for so many reasons. I was doing menial jobs seven days a week to support myself while doing research in the laboratory and attending Japanese classes. I don’t know why I turned down a good job offer in Egypt just so I could have this hard life in Japan. I guess I was looking for something different. Also I didn’t really fit in back home. Although funny thing is, I also didn’t fit in here in Japan in the beginning. It’s hard navigating social cues, and ‘honne and tatemae’ (true feelings vs behavior displayed in public). Lucky for me I met a girl at one of my part-time jobs who became my girlfriend. She explained everything and now it all makes sense to me.

“So after all that hardship, I’m grateful I finally got a scholarship, a job offer, and me and my girlfriend are getting married this year or next. Of course, everything would’ve been perfect if not for this coronavirus. It even canceled the welcome party for new hires at my company so I’m a bit disappointed. But hey, there are bigger things to worry about. And I’m all about chasing problems. Because a problem-free life is boring.”

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Finding diversity and inclusion. Breaking down barriers one post at a time. Stories and snapshots of foreigners making their way in Japan.

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