Update: Here's my exchange blog!
(I'll make a new, shorter video at some point, so there's no subtitles for now!)
Hi! Long story short, I need help for going to Sendai, Japan as an exchange student for one year starting in autumn 2017. I'm getting a Bachelor's (3-year)
degree in Japanese. Because I'm almost blind (I have "
aniridia", walk with a white cane, wear sunglasses indoors etc) no one's ever hired me here in Sweden, even the unemployment office has told me it's hopeless because employers think I'm "too blind to even be able to use a cash register".
Estimated living costs for one person in Japan is about $6,000 USD for 6 months. The problem is, I have extra costs - almost everywhere I go I need a "seeing-eye person" so I don't get lost, which means double the transportation fees, often double the lunch costs etc. I also have to pay for stuff like photocopying to enlarge my textbook pages so I can actually read them, special large-print editions of books, etc.
Until now I've been living with my wife in her family home, but her entire family is crazy and emotionally abusive: the parents alcoholics, gamblers, hoarders, and paranoid. Everything in the house is broken and they refuse to fix it, including the shower, doors, garden hose, bicycles, car etc. Otherwise it's dirty, for example there's black and white mold on the walls and doors, the parents store rotting food together with fresh food. There's metal bars on the windows "in case of thieves", we have to lock the doors even when everyone's home, we're not allowed to open the windows even in summer, if we take just slightly too long going to the grocery store my mother-in-law flips out thinking we've been attacked or hit by a car, etc. And then, they also constantly insult us ("my kids will never amount to anything and are like nooses around my neck"), blame us for absolutely everything ("the reason why I haven't cleaned the house in 20 years is because I had kids" "the reason why I haven't updated the computer OS in 3 years is because you have online classes"). My wife's two sisters (twins who are 26 years old) are also unemployed, they're just as bad as the parents and they normally live with us too.
My wife hasn't been able to find a job either, and gets the brunt of her parents' insults and bad behaviour. Social services won't help us because we're not being "physically" abused, and because they don't help students. Because of how loud/awful the parents are I can only study whenever the parents and sisters are asleep (=past midnight) or not at home, but ex. the mom doesn't even work full-time. I have 3 semesters left out of my 3-year Japanese degree, I study ahead even during summer and winter break, but I still feel like I'm barely passing just because I have so little time where I can actually do homework in this house.
Why do I need to go to Japan?
1. I want to get so good at Japanese that even if I have to come back to this house after the exchange is finished, I can't possibly fail any classes in the degree because the coursework will seem so easy. At the same time I'll be so good at Japanese that I can become a professional translator even before having finished the degree. I've already had to get the degree much more slowly than I'd like due to my wife's family.
2. In Japan you can theoretically get jobs just because you speak English and some Japanese. So hopefully my wife (who also knows some Japanese already) and I can find work there. Even if it's only part-time work, even if we have to go back to Sweden after the exchange because we can't find full-time jobs, it'll still be "work experience" we can use to get real work here in Sweden.
3. I need to get out of my wife's parents' house before something really bad happens. Living in Japan is actually much cheaper in almost all areas compared to living in Sweden, and is incredibly more convenient to handicapped people. So the same money stretches farther.
How good is my Japanese?
I've taken 3 semesters of University-level Japanese, but my personal level is about N2 on the JLPT (which I'll be taking in July), aka the absolute minimum for finding most kinds of work in Japan. I can read anything with the help of a dictionary, except for dialectal stuff, and I can understand 70-90% of the average text without a dictionary. I've had no spoken practice outside of the classroom and I can't handwrite any kanji (but I'll be practicing that all summer).
What will donations go to?
1. In order to get the pre-VISA papers sent in to the school, I had to pay about $100 to take a tuberculosis test and $50 in postage fees.
2. Transportation, food, rent, interview clothes, large-print books, etc. while in Japan.
3. A "stabilizer" and "selfie stick" for filming better videos with the smartphone (about $100 USD). I plan to film a lot while in Japan to show you all, and if I return to Sweden I'll film a lot here as well.
4. Reading glasses, $500. I only owned sunglasses but in order to sit in a normal classroom I need reading ones.
5. (Stretch goal): A 360° camera (like in this video), about $200. This isn't necessary so it'd be the last thing I'd buy, but it gives videos a real immersive experience.
Tuition for the Japanese school (Miyagi University of Education) is free for exchange students from Swedish schools, so I only have to pay for living costs, which are estimated at $1,000 USD a month for one person on a low budget — thus $6,000 for one semester. That should cover all my extra fees for a full year. I'm paying for everything else with a student loan, but you can't get student loan money up-front and you only get about $1,000 a month. We're two people living on that.
I'm 25. I lived in the USA until I was 18, graduated high school/gymnasium a year early then lived in Iceland for 2 years for university because tuition there is free even to non-European citizens — who, however, get deported if they fail classes. Due to some family problems I failed my second semester and got deported, so I married my Swedish girlfriend and moved to Sweden. You can't get an Icelandic degree in Sweden (they don't offer enough Icelandic classes) so I had to restart my degree in a new subject (Japanese), which is the one I originally wanted to get a degree in anyway.
Here's a video compilation from when I lived in Iceland (seizure warning, there are some flashing lights!):
My main hobbies are learning and teaching languages, studying, cooking, and recently nålbindning (viking knitting). I really like
traditional foods, fermented foods, dialects, etc.
I only knew English until I was around 20, but by now I also know a
amount of Swedish, Esperanto, and (reading only) Icelandic, Faroese and
Chinook Jargon (one of the original languages of my hometown area, replaced by English in around the early 1900's). Here's a video I made from an Esperanto event here in
I'm also in a singing club called "Sacred Harp", which is a type of traditional American music from the 1700-1800's (it sounds awful but, well, it was originally "by farmers for farmers"):
Please let me know
if you have ideas for rewards, or for where I can find a job in Japan
without having a degree, or things you'd like to see me talk about on