During the summer of 2017, I worked as a lifeguard at a public pool in Motomachi, Yokohama Japan. I worked there for around 4 months. It was my first job experience in the real world. This was my first time working in a new community of other workers and actually getting paid. This experience in the professional world has made me realise many things.
My job consisted of three different positions: Tower, patrol, and control. Tower was where I sat on a high chair to overlook the whole pool for any major accidents. Patrol was where I walked around to check if there are less noticeable accidents or if there was anyone breaking the rules. Control was like the headquarters. If there were any problems, the customers came to the control area to ask for help. I personally enjoyed control the most as I was able to communicate and engage with customers.
In this paid work experience, I was able to learn many things such as organisation skills and skill to adapt. I was able to develop my pre-existing skill of communication as well. However I would like to talk about my organisation skills as it has affected me the most. When working with salary, it is next accepted to be late or to forget your things. As a worker it is my responsibility to stay organised and come on time and bring my belongings. In one of my shifts, I arrived to work 3 minutes before the time of my shift. However my manager was irritated as in japan, there is an unspoken rule that you have to be ready 10 minutes prior to the shift. I did not know this which had led me to the situation. This taught me realise the importance of asking question and staying organised. At first I was underestimating the seriousness of the work as it was my first time. However with this, I learnt that I had to be serious and ask questions if I don’t understand something. I had to know and I was responsible for myself. This made me realise the importance of staying organised as it heavily part takes in my success.
I enjoy sports and I play sports in the school teams. Our school belongs to a group called AISA where it has 3 Korean schools. I am the captain of the varsity boys volleyball team and in games, it is my duty to talk to referees when there is a problem. In the tournament hosted in Busan International Foreign School, BIFS, I had the privilege to lead the team and communicate with the opponent and the referees. The referees in BIFS were all Koreans which made it harder for me to communicate because I don’t speak their language. However I was able to communicate by using the limited knowledge Korean and a lot of hand gestures. I had limited knowledge on Korean as a foreigner. Hello, thank you, excuse me was the only words I knew before I went to tournaments in Korea. However I soon learned how to say ball and more sport-specific words.
What I realised as I played sports in South Korea is that there are a lot of cultural differences from Japan. There were moments of misunderstanding which the referee did not listen to us when in Japan they would stop the game and listen to us. So the strategy I took was to take my time before game to thoroughly ask questions on how they would make the calls. By doing this I was also able to understand their perspective on the game. I was effectively able to use my communication skills to convey my thoughts but more importantly understand the opponent’s view. This event made me realise how there are more than one platform of communication. I used to think that verbal and written language was the only way to communicate. However I now know that this isn’t the case and visual language (Body language) is another effective way to communicate. I believe that language can transform into many different forms because I was not able to understand the verbal language but still understood the referee’s body language and their facial expression which is a form of language.
I can confidently say that I am able to understand the difference in form of language and how that affects the communication intercultural communication.