/ #minor #abroad 

Study Abroad: Japan

Most people know the stereotypes of Japan: Anime, maid cafes, stressed out students, long working hours and very extreme TV-shows. So, have you ever wondered what it is like to live in Japan? As a university exchange student, I can tell you that it is very fun.

My Japan adventure started in September. With some other exchange students from the University of Twente, we decided to travel around a bit before the start of University. I still remember our very first bowl of udon soup, during which we were just staring at the chopsticks and some weird kind of spoon, having no clue how to get these slimy noodles into our mouth properly. At least we could laugh at how hard we sucked at it. Luckily after a couple of days, you become a master in using chopsticks. {

In Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo and Nara, we looked at a lot of nice temples and shrines, went to the busy shopping districts and had some super delicious food. After these great and shocking two weeks, we went to our final destination: Nagoya. We google mapped our way to the dorm and we could finally settle down. Our dorm was 8 floors high and each floor had 34 rooms. My room was at the highest floor, so I had a beautiful view on the city from my balcony. All the girls on my floor were super nice so it was very easy to make new friends. We shared the kitchen and sometimes we would all end up eating together and cooking national dishes.

I got the opportunity to go to Nagoya University on a scholarship. As I was in Japan for my minor, I could choose almost any subject I found interesting. So the subjects I took were: Introduction to Automotive Engineering, View of Advanced Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering, Fundamentals of Earth Science, Gender Perspective in the 21st century in Japan, Outline of Engineering, Biotechnology and Japanese Language classes. With these subjects I learned a lot about Japan and its culture, but also had the opportunity to visit Electrical Engineering related companies and what to do when a natural disaster happened.

Because of the view of Japanese students having to work very hard, I thought that I would have to work very hard, however most of my subjects only required attendance in combination with writing a short report or taking a multiple choice test. Thanks to not having to spend all my time studying, I had enough time to explore the city and hang out with friends.

There were quite a lot of parties organized by students, however they are nothing like the Dutch parties. It is just going there and eat and talk. And it usually ended at 9 p.m. Then we would go to a karaoke place and if you wanted to take the last subway home, well then you had to go at 11.50 p.m.

The University also offered a lot of opportunities, for example participating in festivals, a glass crafting workshop, cooking classes, teaching English at a Junior High School and spend a weekend with a Japanese host family. So I ended up participating in the Ninja and Samurai Festival, where some old Japanese people put us in a samurai outfit. The only thing we had to do was walk around and then at the end go on a stage and shout “oooohhhhhhhh” real hard on the signal. Afterwards we could walk around the food stalls and look at the performances on the stage.

I also helped at the junior high school, where we had to talk to middle school students, who returned from abroad, in English. I have to admit that those 13 year old kids spoke better English than all of my professors at the University. Most Japanese people don’t or barely speak any English. However you don’t have to worry about that when you are a tourist, as in the big cities there is almost always someone who speaks English and can help you out, and if not, Google Translate works pretty good (The camera function made it possible for me to buy the things I wanted in the supermarket).