My 2003 IATSS Forum Experience (Part 1)

I want to share a story about my wonderful experience in Japan. Fasten your seat belt for this 3500 words story.

IATSS Forum is a big achievement for me, because this is the first time I have opportunity to learning and thinking together with friends from 9 countries for almost 2 months. Through this forum I want to build the foundation of a bridge to my future dream.

IATSS Building
IATSS Building in Suzuka Circuit
Suzuka Circuit
Suzuka Circuit Gate

My Objectives

To build a good bridge foundation, I should achieve some objectives. My objectives in this Forum are:

  1. To find and build relationship with other participants and Japanese that support my future career as architect.

For an architect, relationship with other people is a basic necessity. I will try to make as much as possible relationship with new friends through all activities; every time, everywhere.

Get dressed for opening ceremony
Still in IATSS Forum hall, get dressed for opening ceremony.

2. To broaden my knowledge about Japanese Architecture

I will open my eyes broadly everywhere I go, to record and to experience architecture in Japan. I can learn from small scale design like my room and IATSS Forum building that I lived everyday, to big scale design like high rise building and city planning that I visited.

3. To spend time together with friends from multinational countries

It is more than just make friends, but I must learn how to speak English fluently so that everyone can understand. I will spend more time to be together and communicate with other participants.

The first time I have to do presentation in English. So nervous… – Team Building Camp, Himajime Japan June 2003

4. To learn work in group, share thought and speak my mind in public at international event

I can reach this part by participating actively, not only in formal activities such as in seminar discussion and group study, but also in informal activities such as in discussion about some events that we have to prepare together.

5. To learn to think fast and more organized

Deadlines for Accomplishment Report, Seminar Report and Group study can be a good exercise to achieve this objective. I have to manage my time to deal with this tight schedule.

Formal Activities

Formal Activities are all activities that have fix schedule. Most of activities are compulsory or highly recommended to attend.  Formal Activities include Team Building Camp, Seminar, Group Study, Special Class (Japanese Class, Flower Arrangement Class, Driving Class and Kimono class), Activities with Japanese Community, and Study tour.

IATSS Forum Caligraphi Class
IATSS Forum Calligraphy Class

Team Building Camp

Team Building Camp was very interesting experience because I have many first time experiences here. It was the first time to know each other better through many discussions such as discussion about group objective and how to make IATSS Forum number 1.

It was the first time to experience Japanese life. From Japanese room and public bath a.k.a Onsen to Japanese food and small town.

For me this also the first time to discuss one topic together led a discussion and made presentation in English with participants from many countries. I was very nervous but I realize I should practice it.

IATSS Forum 2003 Hamajima
The girls in Hamajima for Team Building Camp


We had about 18 seminars, which some of them conduct by professors from reputable universities in Japan such as Tokyo University, Osaka University or Nagoya University. Even though I felt sleepy in most of seminars, I can say I learn many things from these activities. Not only from the content on material but also from the way the professors explained many important topics. The seminars were quite comprehensive because they covered Culture, Society, and Science and Technology of Japanese.

One of IATSS Forum Seminar

From the seminar I learned that Japanese as a developed country is also facing many problems such as corruption in government, increasing number of drop out student in education field, increasing number of karoushi (death from overwork) in Japanese company, etc. It was surprised me a little bit, because before I came to Japan, I always think Japan as one of the top five developed countries in the world which already perfect in everything. Now I realize that every country has their own problems, does not matter they are developing countries or developed countries.

The discussion in seminar was the most amusing thing because we can share opinion and discuss about it in short period of time. I learned to speak up my mind, listened to others opinion and made presentation. Truly, I wish I were brave enough to try more time to present group discussion since it was a good opportunity to practice. However I could also learn by observing the way other participants like Santanee and York conducted the group presentation.

IATSS Forum Seminar

Even though Seminar Impression was quite burden for me, but I like it. Like one proverb said ‘No Pain No Gain”. It is the part of learning how to write something in English that was very difficult for me. Nevertheless I wanted to learn, and I had to learn. Above all, obligation to submit the report taught me how to manage time effectively.

Group Study

Discussion with fellow participants
Discussion with fellow participants

Group Study was the best media to learn about other people. Necessity to discuss one specific topic together for 55 days made us know each other better. At beginning, I was a little bit disappointed in group study activities because it was different than what I have been expected.

But fortunately in the recent few days I finally found what I have been looking for. We share thoughts and opinions with friends from other countries, make sure that we have the same perception about one topic and share responsibility. Even we are from different countries, have varieties of background and lack understanding about the topic, we still can make a good discussion to identify problems and give recommendation about Official Development Assistant. I enjoy very much our discussion during the last week prior to our final presentation.

Special Class

We had some special classes which all of them was interesting to try, such as learn Japanese in Japanese Class, Ikebana Class, Caligraphi, Driving Lesson in Suzuka Circuit with Honda Team, etc. That was why most of participants attending all these class.

Learn how to dance
Learn how to dance

A small misunderstanding led me to join advance class in Japanese class despite I never officially join Japanese course in Indonesia. I plan to move to other class, but Santanee, a friend from Thailand encouraged me to stay. “A little challenge is good if you want to learn more,” she said. It’s true that I want to learn more about Japanese Language. Small class consist of 6 participants was good enough to learn Japanese. I drove to catch up the others and had to have extra time to study.

Ikebana Class
Ikebana Class

In flower arrangement class we learnt about art of Japanese Ikebana. It was the first time for me to arrange 3 types of flowers into one pot beautifully.

I need automatic car! This was the conclusion after take the driving lesson in Suzuka Circuit. Since that day was the first time I drive automatic car, for me this was the most interesting part. It’s more interesting than the main lesson that we learnt how to break in short time in slippery road. Its really cool!!!

Continued in part 2 here.

Shanty Dewi Arifin

Penulis yang suka berbagi Pengalaman dan Oleh-oleh dalam rangka belajar menjadi perempuan yang lebih baik bagi diri sendiri, keluarga, dan masyarakatnya. Bergabung dengan komunitas: Blogger - Institut Ibu Profesional Bandung - Arsitektur ITB 93 - IATSS Forum 2003 - Akademi Menulis 5 Menara - #ODOPfor99days.

2 thoughts on “My 2003 IATSS Forum Experience (Part 1)

  • March 15, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    ih seru banget teeh..
    pengen daftar, tapi bahasa inggris aku pas2an -_-

    • March 16, 2016 at 11:18 pm

      Saya juga waktu itu bahasa Inggris pas pas an banget. Banyak buka kamus pas nyusun aplikasinya. Trus banyak-banyak proof reader ke teman yang jago bahasa bahasa Inggris.

      Pas wawancara, banyak-banyak latihan setelah tanya kiri kanan ke para alumni.

      setelah lolos, masih ada waktu beberapa bulan buat latihan di klub-klub bahasa inggris gratisan yang ada di Bandung.

      Pas hari H tiba di Jepang, lidah masih kaku juga. Tapi alhamdulillah, teman-teman dari negara lain (Kecuali warga Singapura dan Philipina yang rada lurus Inggrisnya) belepotan juga Inggrisnya. Tak masalah, yang penting ngarti. Selamat deh nggak jadi orang bisu selama 55 hari di Jepang.

      Don’t worry Des, cobain aja. Gratis ini. #kompor


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