My six months in Aoyama Gakuin University as an exchange student gave me very precious memories. I was so excited to go to Japan with no anxiety although it was the first time living and studying overseas. Luckily, my expectations were fulfilled with so much fun.
Aoyama Gakuin University took care of us exchange students who were all foreigners and strangers in Japan. They always opened up to us to help and give information about classes and life in Japan. A lot of activities that helped us experience cultures in Japan were provided.
We had fun going on short trips to Shizuoka, making sushi, watching a Sumou game, and so on. We also enjoyed many cultural experiences with Japan calligraphy, tea and a doll play in the Japanology class.
It was also fun to hang out with friends from not only Japan but all over the world. There were a lot of friends from America, China, Taiwan, and France. It was interesting to communicate in Japanese with foreigners, but sometimes regretted the fact that I had not studied English hard enough to talk with English speakers who couldn’t speak Japanese well.
However, the language wasn’t such a serious matter. We shared so much fun and built up a sturdy friendship. Everybody respected and made efforts to get to know each other’s culture. I could know where my friend used to live, and learnt a few foreign words during the times we hung out together and tried to speak each other’s language.
I could also share Korean culture with them, and later found out that my words had brought my foreign friends to Korea. Nobody knows when we can meet again, but we have been keeping in touch and making new and wonderful memories.
My school was in Shibuya, Tokyo, and almost at the center of the country, so it was easy to visit every fun place and enjoy the pleasures of the youth culture. Japanese friends including tutors who paired up with all exchange students used to invite us to enjoy the young Japanese culture such as karaoke, parties and festivals. They introduced the Japanese culture and food while trying to speak Japanese slowly and clearly to help us understand.
I also had a part time job near school, and it turned out to be a rewarding experience. I worked at a small Italian restaurant, and it was hard to memorize a lot of Japanese on the menu and take the order. But members of the staff were kind and helped me a lot. This part time job gave me not only money but an understanding of the system of Japanese part time jobs.
Those six months in Japan is one of my favorite and unforgettable memories. I was so lucky to have such a helpful school, various friends to hang out with, and the chance to experience interesting Japanese culture. Moreover, the experience of staying aboard alone has made me independent and courageous.
By: Youk Se-eun (Visual Information Design, 4) studied at the Aoyama Gakuin University.