In my previous article, I talked about my journey from the time I stopped attending school, as someone who didn’t fit into society, until I entered college.
This time, I will write about what followed.
After obtaining the high school equivalency exam, I passed the university entrance examination and started my life in college.
I have a previous article where I wrote about my experiences from elementary to high school.
I’d be happy if you could read it from there. Here’s the article
College Admission | My University Life was Quite Different from What I Had Imagined.
“Which high school did you graduate from?” “I didn’t attend high school.” And just like that, I become someone you shouldn’t associate with.
From admission until the start of lectures, I attended various orientation sessions.
Every time, the people sitting next to me were complete strangers. For other students, the typical conversation starter was about which school they came from.
The only answers I could give were, “I got a high school equivalency,” “I didn’t go to school,” and “I was a shut-in.”
For those who asked, it might have been just a casual conversation starter, but my answers were certainly unexpected, right? (laughs)
As you can imagine, it took a while for me to make acquaintances.
At the university I attended, besides elective courses, there was a class of about 20 people that met once a week. I thought I could make connections there.
And speaking of university, there are also clubs.
Since my biggest dream at the time was to travel abroad, I joined a travel club.
After 2 to 3 months, the self-introduction period was over, and I managed to interact with other students.
However, in college classes, I began to feel the same way I did back in elementary school.
I had thought that university was a place where one could act independently and study.
I had two reasons for entering university.
Firstly, in Japanese society, one’s last educational background is often considered, so I thought that if I graduated from a university, my history of not attending school would be less of a hindrance when I wanted to find a job.
The second reason was that I viewed elementary to high school as places for input, where one acquires knowledge. In contrast, I believed university was a place for output, where one uses acquired knowledge to create or present something.
Regarding employment, things turned out somewhat as I had expected.
However, the latter was quite different from my imagination, and the doubts I felt in elementary school resurfaced.
I had to follow exactly what the instructor said, and even the way to take notes was specified.
However, due to the large number of students in the lectures, I wasn’t singled out, and I had become more accepting of such things compared to before.
But… the university curriculum was not a place to study what I thought and create something.
After graduating, I realized that it wasn’t necessary to attend university.
Indeed, I was able to acquire a lot of specialized knowledge in university.
However, when I entered society, I felt a difference between what I studied and reality.
I’ll write about things other than university from now on, but for me, the growth I experienced through part-time jobs and communities outside of university had a bigger impact.
And I learned more from those experiences than from university.
Of course, there were good things that came from attending university, but if I could go back to that time, I don’t think I would choose to go to university.
Continuing to do what I was interested in was more enjoyable, and it brought the results I wanted.
This is just my personal opinion, but I think the idea that “once you enter a university, you’re set” is not quite accurate.
If you’re entering university for knowledge or qualifications that can’t be acquired elsewhere, then it’s a good choice.
Otherwise, you can obtain most things without attending a university.
While club activities in university seem fun, you can join such communities using SNS and other platforms.
When considering your life path, it might be best to view attending university as just one of many options available.
Life Outside of University | Part-time Job to Go Abroad and Meeting Many People.
Setting Out on a Wandering Journey Abroad When I Turned 20 | Target Amount: 2 Million Yen.
I started saving money little by little since my time at the facility.
Once I entered university, I worked part-time jobs in the evenings 4 to 5 days a week.
I had decided that when I turned 20, I would take a leave of absence and travel abroad, so I spent all my free time working part-time.
Saving money was one of my goals, but as someone who had been a truant and a shut-in, I wanted to “know society better” and experience various jobs.
I continued to work part-time at an izakaya (Japanese pub) and a pachinko parlor because they paid well, and I also took on short-term jobs at call centers and moving companies.
Due to my parents’ divorce, I did receive some support, but I earned most of my living expenses through part-time work.
Balancing student life and earning both living expenses and savings for traveling abroad was time-consuming and challenging.
However, the events with my grandmother during the trip to Hokkaido that I took from the facility became my driving force.
“I will manage things I want to do on my own.”
It might sound obvious, but having experienced things with my grandmother, I continued to act without any doubt.
“Desired to Become Outgoing and Make a University Debut” but Ended in Failure.
Outside of my part-time job, I met various people and joined different communities.
Aiming for that “university debut,” I started by attending drinking parties like a typical college student.
Please don’t mind that a first-year university student was attending drinking parties. I believe the statute of limitations has passed on that.
I attended drinking parties where students from various universities gathered, sourced from the popular community on Mixi at the time.
At the first drinking party I attended, I was unable to strike up a conversation and felt defeated.
Having only ever spoken to people at the facility or my family, I was probably socially awkward back then, lol.
Moreover, I was the annoying type who would only talk about myself loudly and not listen to others.
Eager to make my “university debut”, I tried approaching girls, but conversations would quickly fizzle out. Many of the participants at the drinking parties were from athletic clubs, so I couldn’t keep up with the guys’ vibes either.
By the latter half, I was drinking alone.
On the way home, I approached a girl I had spoken to a bit and just said, “Thanks for today.
” She responded with, “Rafu-kun, your clothes are so out of style.”
Total mental breakdown! Lol.
Well, if the current me met the me from back then, I’d say the same thing.
I was wearing a tight tank top with an illustration of Mickey Mouse on the back of a faded, yellowish second-hand zip-up hoodie. I wore the hoodie partially unzipped in an off-the-shoulder fashion.
My hair, naturally curly and grown to about neck length, was messily styled. I tried to use hard wax to give it a visual-kei look. By the end of the drinking party, humidity had set in, making the ends of my hair stick to my skin, while the top looked like a curly mushroom…
So out of style…
I checked it out while writing this article, and I immediately got rid of that look. Lol.
My college debut was a total flop.
From that point on, it was a period of hard work.
Initially, I closely observed the fashion choices and conversation styles of the people who attended the drinking parties and tried to emulate them.
Gradually, I became more adept at holding conversations.
I incessantly asked people I got close to about where they bought their clothes, how they conducted their conversations, and so on.
Perhaps they found my curiosity amusing, as they generously gave me advice on fashion and how to talk. Whenever I had successful conversations with girls, we’d toast.
I enjoyed it, thinking to myself, “So this is what a college debut feels like.”
Taking a Break from College after Sophomore Year | Raising the Remaining Amount in Two Months for an Overseas Trip.
Unaware that Tuition Still Applied During a Leave of Absence | My First Time Negotiating in Life.
As my second year of college came to a close and I was about to turn 20 in May, I was nearing my target savings of 2 million yen for my overseas trip.
Thus, I decided to take a leave of absence from April and planned to work intensely for two months before embarking on my journey abroad.
First, I went to submit my leave of absence form to the university.
But an unexpected trouble arose…
When I handed the form to the person in charge at the academic affairs office, I was told that they needed to conduct a “hearing for the reason of the leave and provide an explanation”, and was then led to a reception room.
Initially, they explained that at the university I attended, even during a leave of absence, about half of the tuition fees still needed to be paid. Given that the annual tuition was roughly 1.2 million yen, the amount I would have to pay while on leave would be 600,000 yen.
After saving so diligently for my overseas trip…
I wasn’t willing to just accept it, so I began negotiating with the academic affairs official.
“Why do I need to pay even while I’m on leave, when I’m planning to take a one-year leave of absence and then return to attend regularly for the remaining two years?” I questioned.
The response from the academic affairs office was, “That’s just the rule.”
I couldn’t accept defeat simply because “it’s the rule.” So I took a gamble.
“I believe I have the right to an explanation about how the money I pay is utilized, given that I’m a student here. Can you explain the benefits I receive from the fees paid during the leave of absence?”
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if such a right even existed. But I didn’t want to cut into my savings for traveling abroad, so I had no intention of backing down.
The demeanor of the official then changed.
“By the way… what’s your reason for taking the leave of absence?”
Could there be a chance? I replied, “I want to travel abroad during my leave to experience different cultures and broaden my horizons.”
“That’s wonderful! Given that, we might be able to reduce the fees for your leave. We’ll get back to you.”
With those words, I left the reception room.
In the end, I never received any follow-up from the university, nor was I billed for the leave of absence fees.
What I’m trying to convey with this story is that from this experience, I learned that “what’s decided in society isn’t absolute. Expressing our thoughts and negotiating is crucial in life.”
And this negotiation would not have been possible if I were the type to simply accept what others told me.
Although I had perceived myself as an outcast even after entering university, I began to think that maybe my personality could be used to my advantage.
This hypothesis became more solidified within me as I traveled abroad.
My first sales job was at a special booth in front of an iPhone store | My misfit tendencies became an asset.
What’s the best way to earn the most in the two months before going abroad?
Having only worked hourly jobs up to this point, I calculated how much I could make working full time for two months.
While I seemed on track to achieve my goal of 2 million yen, I wanted to earn even more if possible.
Upon researching, I found out that if I took a commission-based sales job, I could earn according to the amount of work I did.
Having become interested in convincing people through conversation after the incident with the Academic Affairs office, I sought out a sales job.
At that time, Softbank was the first major carrier to start offering the iPhone 3G. In electronics stores and department stores, special booths were set up to attract customers.
I joined a company that was an authorized sales agent for the iPhone.
There, I met a CEO who introduced me to the joys of sales.
After joining the company, I learned that it was a startup, having been founded just recently. The CEO had previously worked for a company selling iPhones and water dispensers but had decided to branch out on his own.
There were only three employees, including me.
One day, I asked the CEO why he had hired me. He replied, “You don’t like to follow the crowd, right? That uniqueness seemed interesting to me.”
At that time, as a university student, I had experienced strong peer pressure at my part-time jobs. I had started to believe that adapting was necessary to survive in society.
But the CEO affirmed my tendency to stand out from the crowd and even said it was interesting.
Furthermore, he told me, “Having a unique perspective is crucial for a salesperson. Salespeople who are always seeking the ‘right answer’ don’t make sales.”
To be honest, I didn’t fully grasp what he meant at the time.
But looking back now, I understand.
The method for selling iPhones at the special booth was simple. I would hand out tissues, and if someone accepted, I’d approach them asking, “Do you know about the iPhone?” For those who showed interest, I would explain further, and if things went well, we would finalize a contract.
The CEO’s advice or perhaps instruction to me was, “You can do it however you like, Laugho. Being rejected is a given, and I think it might be depressing at first. So, maybe you should approach people who look like they might like you. It might be less stressful.”
People who might like me? I thought, “I’m socially awkward, remember?” Laughing at the thought.
Perhaps sensing my doubt, the CEO continued.
“You’ve been to drinking parties, right? Not everyone there necessarily likes you. But there are those who enjoy drinking with you, aren’t there? Don’t you notice a pattern in the type of people who enjoy your company?”
When I thought about the people I drank with, it wasn’t so much those who enjoyed a group dynamic, but rather those who, despite being in a group, wanted to have fun in their own way.
Seeing my contemplation, the CEO grinned and said, “For now, just try approaching people who seem like that kind of person. Give it a shot!”
From that point on, I began observing the people walking around the store.
Comments at parties like, “Rafu-kun, your clothes are so uncool,” led me to start observing people. I began to consider their personalities based on their fashion and behavior. Finding people who might like me was not as difficult as I had imagined.
I’d think, “Ah… if this were a drinking party, I’d probably get along with this person.”
When I approached them with tissues, we quickly hit it off, and before I knew it, we’d sealed the deal.
What just happened?
From afar, the boss who was watching shouted, “Laughooooo!. Good job!!”
Once I got a hang of the approach, I amusingly managed to secure more contracts.
“Rafu-kun, you’re really something else!”
He continued, “Think you’re ready to talk to people you’d personally like to get along with?”
Next, he said, “How about chatting with people who might not seem to like you?”
Finally, he asked, “Think you can even talk to people you dislike?”
Towards the end, I became adept at tailoring my conversations to the individual I approached, and correspondingly, the number of contracts I secured increased.
Although it was a short span of just two months leading up to my 20th birthday, the experience at this company became immensely valuable for me.
I had informed the CEO about my plans to travel abroad when I was hired, so when it came time to leave, he cheerfully saw me off with a, “Rafu-kun, see you again!”
Even now, I keep in regular contact with the CEO, and he continues to look out for me.
Finally, at the age of 20, my wandering journey began!
When I turned 20, I decided to travel abroad.
I had made up my mind to do this when I was 15 years old.
Five years passed since then, and I’ve managed to save up my target amount of 2 million yen.
My goal was to simply stroll abroad.
I hadn’t even decided on a destination.
I called a travel agency and said, “Please give me the cheapest one-way ticket to a foreign country departing within the next 2-3 days.”
The person on the other end seemed taken aback and said, “Please hold on a moment,” putting me on hold.
“The cheapest one-way flight available within the next 2-3 days is to Shanghai.”
“My dream journey of wandering abroad starts from here.
In the next installment, I’ll write about my adventures traveling overseas.”
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