We could call him a globe-trotter. Tomo Umemura was born and lived in Tokio, Japan. He finished his Ph.D. studies in Texas, US State, and then moved to Brno, Czech Republic, where he has been living for 4 years. Being one of our long-term clients we asked him a few questions about his life in the Czech land.
Why did you relocate to the Czech Republic?
When I finished my degree in the US, I was looking for a university job either there in States or back home in Japan. It was hard to find such a position, though, so I decided to search also in countries which were not related to me. Masaryk University in Brno was looking for someone with completed education and some experiences in research. So we had a good match and I came to the Czech Republic in February 2013.
Where do you work?
I work at the Institute for Research on Children, Youth and Families which is a professional research institute of the Faculty of Social Studies at Masaryk University.
What did suprise you when you first came to Brno?
I already passed through a big cultural shock when I moved from Japan to the US. So the shock was only very small here in the Czech Republic. Of course, it was new and different, but people are still people, and it is not suddenly a completely different environment. I expected differencies and I prepared myself for them.
Do you remember anything specific which was new to you?
Yes. For the first time in my life I go by tram every day! In Japan people use trains and buses and in the US nobody uses public transport unless you stay in New York City where it is pretty common. So that was probably the biggest change for me. For the rest, I just adjusted my life style here and it wasn’t a big deal for me.
What can you say about Czechs?
They are more withdrawn, comparing to Americans who are extremely open. But Japanese people are also a bit closed, so it was not something I had unknown.
What about Czech versus Japanese people – are they different?
Well, they look different I guess :-) That’s the only thing I can think about. Perhaps, I got older and I don’t pay too much attention to that anymore. I am also probably used to meet people from different countries, so I just enjoy conversation and don’t care about differencies.
Is Czech work environment different to Japan?
Yes, it is. Based on my experiences, the work environment in the Czech Republic is more relaxing. In Japan, it is more stressful, so I enjoy working here.
How has been Foreigners.cz helpful to you?
When I came to Brno, obviously I needed to find an apartment. I was collaborating with my colleagues but with no success. So I asked Foreigners.cz to help me. I saw several flats with my Relocation Consultant and picked one of them where I have been living till now. It is very nice. Also, I had very good experiences with Foreigners.cz during all my living here – my landlord doesn’t speak English, so I contacted the agency when I needed to extend my contract, for example. They replied quickly to my e-mails, so I had no stress about these things and a better relationship with my landrod, too. The agency was always here for me as well, when something in the apartment got broken. For instance, I had a problem with a water heater and my landlord said I had to take care of it. So I asked Foreigners.cz and they sent a handyman who fixed that.
Have you visited Foreigners.cz’s MeetUps?
Yes, I have. Brno is a nice city with many foreigners, and local people are willing to communicate with us, so I had a chance to meet a lot of nice people at these events. I met many of my best friends there, so I am very satisfied with my social life here.
Is there anything you miss from Japan?
I miss Japanese food the most. I know there are Asian and Japanese restaurants in Brno, and they are very good. I just want more! :-)
You are coming back to Japan, though. Right?
That’s true. I am going back to my homeland at the end of March. I found the same type of job there, which I do here.
Do you speak Czech?
Well, I try. I studied Czech for two semestres at the university and had a private teacher even. I can understand some. I usually have no problem in supermarket but, you know, I cannot teach in Czech :-) Frankly, since last year I was sure I would leave the country, I lost my motivation.
Do you think you will come back to the Czech Republic, at least for a visit?
I will visit for sure. I am leaving my colleagues and good friends here, and I would love to see them again.
To your knowledge,is there any agency like Foreigners.cz in Japan?
I am not sure because I am not a foreigner in Japan and I have not been there for a long time. But I don’t know about anything like that. I think this kind of company is unique and foreigners in the Czech Republic should be happy having something like that for them.