Sincerity never fails in human relations


Says Albanian student Ervin Myshketa



At present, a total of 797 exchange students from 31 countries study at Chuo University. While many of them are from neighboring Asian countries such as China, South Korea and Taiwan, some are from countries little known to Japanese. One of them is Ervin Myshketa, 26, who has joined Chuo just for the fall semester. He was born in Albania, an eastern Balkan country with a population of about 2.7 million, approximately equal to that of Japan’s Osaka Prefecture. After spending his high-school days in his own country, he went to Switzerland to enter the University of Geneva. Hakumon Herald interviewed him to ask about his impression of Japan and environmental and cultural differences between his mother country and Japan.



Keen to see Earth’s opposite side



"It's my pleasure to be here, studying in Chuo", says Myshketa during an interview with Hakumon Herald.
"It's my pleasure to be here, studying in Chuo", says Myshketa during an interview with Hakumon Herald.

  -What has brought you to Japan?



  Myshleta: The University of Geneva has an efficient system to support its students who want to study abroad. Many take advantage of that system to study abroad at least once while being enrolled at the school. I applied for its scholarship with Asia in my mind, believing it could be my last chance. To us Europeans, Japan is a country located on the opposite side of the Earth. Luckily enough, my wish has been realized. It was Chuo University that has accepted me.

ミシュケタ ジュネーブ大学には、学生の海外留学を積極的に支援する制度があります。それを利用して多くの学生が在学中に1度は留学をします。私はこの機会を逃したら行かないかもしれないアジアに絞り、出願しました。私たちからしたら、日本は地球の裏側です(笑い)。祈りが届き、決まった留学先が中央大学だったのです。


-What impression have you formed since coming to Japan?



Myshketa: I’ve felt the social environment and human characteristics in Japan resemble those in Switzerland. My homeland Albania is still a developing country in terms of politics, economy and education because of the immature policies taken by the Communist regime over a long period from the end of World War II to the middle of the 1990s. A high unemployment rate is also one of its serious problems. In my native town, I often saw people just stumbling around without doing anything even in the daytime. When I went to Switzerland, I was amazed to see its well-organized cityscape, sophisticated educational environment and people’s disciplined attitude to be caring to others. I have the same feeling about Japan, too. What strikes me particularly in Japan is that complicated things are practiced so smoothly and easily. For example, trains arrive on time and people wait for them in good manners. All those are quite new to me.

ミシュケタ 社会の環境、人々の特徴はスイスに似ていると感じました。私の故郷、アルバニアは戦後から1990年代前半まで続いた共産党政権の未熟な政策で、いまだ政治、経済、教育が発展途上中です。また、高い失業率も問題の1つとなっています。昼間から何をするでもなく町をふらふらしている人々を、私が生まれた町ではよく目にしました。スイスに移住すると、整備された都市、洗練された教育環境、他人を思いやる姿勢が徹底されているのを見て驚きました。日本についても同じ感想を持ちます。複雑なことがいとも簡単に実行される風景。例えば、列車が定刻通りに到着すること、それを礼儀正しく待つ人々の姿。私にとって新鮮な光景に映ります。


  -Do you see any similarities between Albanian people and Japanese people?



Myshketa: Albanian people tend to be hot-blooded. On the other hand, Japanese look calm and collected. I don’t feel the two peoples have much in common characteristically. But I do think they are similar to each other in terms of, for instance, respect to the elderly and tolerance of religion. The Albanian Communist regime used to prohibit people from having faith in specific religion. However, that has changed now. My country is religiously tolerant just like Japan, where traditional Shintoist practices like Matsuri (festival) and Shogatsu (New Year’s Day) and Buddhist practices like Bon festival go hand in hand with traditional Western religious practices like Christmas and Halloween.


ミシュケタ 血気盛んなアルバニア人。穏やかな日本人というように国民の性格は似ていない部分が多いように感じますが、高齢者への敬意や宗教への寛容性は共通していると思います。アルバニアでは共産党政権時代には特定の宗教を信仰することが許されませんでした。しかし、今は違います。お祭りやお正月などの神道の宗教行事、お盆などの仏教行事がクリスマスやハロウィーンなどの西洋の宗教行事と共存する日本のように、宗教的な寛容性がアルバニアにもあります。

Miss Albanian coffee bar



Myshketa is busy on Thursday. He has a couple of classes including Japanese which he's struggling with.
Myshketa is busy on Thursday. He has a couple of classes including Japanese which he's struggling with.

What Albanian culture do you miss in Japan?



Myshketa: Either in Geneva or Tokyo, I sometimes miss the Albanian lifestyle in which people slowly spend every day without much stress. Albanians enjoy having nonsensical talks with their family, friends and even strangers at coffee bars seen here and there in town. They let me have mixed feelings. I sometimes want to go back to such life but don’t want to at other times.

ミシュケタ 毎日をゆったりと、ストレスなく過ごすアルバニアの生活がスイスや東京にいると、時々恋しくなります。町中にあるコーヒー・バーで家族、友達、時には見知らぬ他人と他愛のない話をする。そんな日々に戻りたくもあり、戻りたくもない複雑な思いです。


-Albanians frequent a cafe, don’t they?



Myshketa: Well, Albanian coffee bars are slightly different from cafes. They look like restaurants or night clubs furnished with a bar and tables. Coffee bars are the second home for Albanians. You can have a cup of coffee there just for 60 yen. That affordable price attracts a broad range of people from children to adults. They are always bustling. Some people even have business talks there.

ミシュケタ 喫茶店とは少し違います。バーとテーブルがあるレストランやナイトクラブのような場所です。アルバニア人にとって、コーヒー・バーは第2の家です。1杯60円程度なので、子供から大人まで店内はいつも賑やかです。ビジネス上の交渉もコーヒー・バーですることもあるようです。


-Can you tell us about the hardships and funs you may have while living in foreign countries?



Myshketa: It’s always exciting to go out of a familiar society to live in a country with different culture. However, you will have a string of hardships until you get accustomed to your new life there. I moved to Switzerland after finishing my high school. At first, I was often annoyed by linguistic and cultural differences. But I can say one thing for sure. Wherever you go, people will open their heart if you try to be sincere and nice to them. I’m convinced that my effort like my study never fails in human relationships. I think studying abroad gives you a good chance to realize how important your sincerity is.

ミシュケタ 慣れた社会から飛び出して異なる文化圏で過ごすことは、いつでも刺激的ですが、その土地に慣れるまでは苦労の連続です。私は高校卒業後からスイスに移りました。言語、文化の違いで悩むことが当初は多かったです。しかし、誠心誠意な態度を心がけていれば、場所に関わらず人々は心を開いてくれます。勉強と同じように、努力を裏切らないのが人間関係です。留学はその重要性に気付くいい機会になると思います。


-Thank you.

(Interviewed by: Hideki Kato)