Intercultural Communication :
On june 13th, 2018, I embarked on a 60 day-journey in a small local house in Pančevo, Serbia. This was my attempt to compete internationally and enter tournaments in neighboring countries of europe.
For the bulk of my junior years training tennis in Yokohama, traveling and competing overseas only passed my mind as an elaborate daydream. After 15 hours of flight and 5 hours of driving, I finally arrived at the house my coach, Bosko, had rented over the summer. I remember Liliya, our caretaker, opening the front door and greeting my team with an ever-so contagious smile.
Liliya was one of the first people that I had communicated with throughout my stay in Serbia. She knew a number of english words like hello and bye, although she ended up talking to me in fluent serbian with elaborate hand gestures. With my lack of any knowledge in serbian, I often found these interactions comedic and sometimes embarrassing, as I found myself struggling to communicate trivial things: dining utensils, shopping, and laundry.
After a few weeks of traveling to Slovakia, Romania, and Skopje, being surrounded by a completely new language was something I grew into becoming comfortable with. In fact I started to enjoy listening to the different intonations and accents of numerous languages. Each time I would travel back to pancevo and arrive at my house, Liliya would greet me and attempt to converse about my experience traveling and playing my matches. By then, I had learned enough serbian to have conversations and ask questions to further inquire. Our conversations were still simple, but I felt that they were meaningful in the sense that I could come to an understanding of her personality and making sense of her advice and suggestions living in serbia.
On the plane ride home to japan, I remember mentally replaying my experiences of certain events, and of the connections I have made with the local Serbians either coaches, players, or Liliya. I feel that I had learned that for one, communication isn’t all about words or vocabulary, but also about the vibe of the person and their passion. I also remember feeling very welcomed at my stay when surrounded by others who had the insight to inquire one another and perhaps even, open up a conversation like Liliya did.