Messages from Students who Studied Abroad

Messages from International Exchange Students

Messages from International Exchange Students
Reports from Students with Experience of Studying Abroad
Reports on their time spent studying abroad written by students sent on student exchange programs and recipients of the Gakushuin University Overseas Study Scholarship are available to read at the Centre for International Exchange. The reports contain numerous and informative recollections from students with experience of studying overseas, including their reasons for wanting to study abroad, how they felt during their time overseas, and what they struggled with. If you are thinking about studying overseas or you have already decided to do so, it is definitely worth reading the reports.

Messages from Students Who Have Studied at Partner Schools

Wataru Norimatsu
Department: Faculty of Letters, Department of History
Overseas university: Beijing Foreign Studies University (China)
Duration of overseas study: October 2013 to September 2014

Beijing Foreign Studies University is an extremely well-equipped university with a large number of students from Western countries, and I spent an extremely stimulating time studying there. Studying in Beijing, which allows you to experience Asia’s unique energy and to witness the development of China with your own eyes, is certain to give you some wonderful experiences that will be of great value to you for the rest of your life. Why not take a brave step and study abroad? You will not regret it.

Yoko Watanabe
Department: Graduate School of Humanities, Department of Japanese Language and Literature
Overseas university: Soochow University (Taiwan)
Duration of overseas study: October 2013 to September 2014
1. Why did you want to study abroad and what were your impressions after completing your overseas studies?
My area of specialization is Japanese language education, so I decided to go to Taiwan where Japanese language teaching is very popular. The fact that I could keep my costs down during my time spent studying overseas was also an attraction.
2. What was good and what would you recommend about the university where you studied?
Soochow University has a lot of students who are very friendly towards overseas exchange students. Many people have an interest in Japanese language and culture, and I think it’s really easy to make friends. 
3. What’s the best thing about being an overseas exchange student at the university?
The fact that you can interact with a diverse range of students. The students from Western countries are there because they have an interest in Asia, and the fact that they have an interest in Japan makes it easier to get on with them. They also see Asia from a different perspective to ours, and this makes discussions more enjoyable. 
4. What is your message to students preparing to study abroad?
Taiwan is a safe and easy place to live. It is also much cheaper to study there than Western countries. There are plenty of opportunities to study English in addition to Chinese. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to study Chinese and English together. 

Yoshihiko Yamazaki
Department: Faculty of Law, Department of Political Studies
Overseas university: Tamkang University (Taiwan)
Duration of overseas study: October 2014 to September 2015
Hello. I am currently studying as an overseas exchange student at Tamkang University in Taiwan.
When most people hear about studying in Taiwan, the first thing that comes to mind is probably Chinese language study. However, all of the lessons at my faculty are given in English and I am studying as an overseas exchange student in the English language. One of the reasons I chose this university is because I wanted to come into contact with both English and Chinese. This is because initially I wanted to study in Chinese overseas. However, when I thought about how important English will be for my future career and for communicating with people around the world, I decided to study at a university that allowed me to learn English at the same time. Tamkang University offers numerous classes, and as a general rule all classes are held in English. What’s more, because it is compulsory for students of the university to study overseas, they have a high standard of English and they have motivated me a great deal during my time here as a student. It goes without saying that there are plenty of opportunities to use Chinese locally outside of classes.
I have only just started my studies here but for me one of the best things about studying here is that by learning both English and Chinese in person not only am I able to communicate with Chinese and Taiwanese people and people from Asia (where my main interests lie), but also with people throughout the world. I would recommend that you use English as a way of venturing out into Asia.

Akane Kondo
Department: Faculty of Letters, Department of English Language and Cultures
Overseas university: Kyungpook National University (South Korea)
Duration of overseas study: October 2013 to September 2014
1. Why did you want to study abroad?
I have always been interested in Korea and I also wanted to study English, so for me it was a case of studying abroad to “kill two birds with one stone”. Even if you only travel as far as Korea, as long as you leave Japan you will be surrounded by other international exchange students and you can be sure that there will be opportunities for you to use English. I also wanted to learn Korean if I had the time, and it was an excellent opportunity for me to learn two languages during my one year spent studying abroad. There was also an economic advantage in that the costs are much cheaper than studying in English-speaking countries. I spent a very rewarding year as I was also able to study English language education, which is my area of specialization. Korea puts a lot more effort into English than Japan, and I learned a great deal.
2. What was good and what would you recommend about the university where you studied?
Kyungpook National University is said to be the best university in Daegu. Almost all of the students had a very high standard in the classes held in English, and it was an extremely stimulating experience. The international exchange staff offered strong support, giving me peace of mind during my time living in Korea. There is a large campus, with numerous cafes and restaurants around the university, and it was extremely convenient. The student accommodation was also cheap and good quality. Another good point is the fact that there are not too many exchange students from Japan. There were a large number of lessons and I took some really interesting classes. I like the fact that you can study Korean at the language school there if you want to. It is also reassuring that all of the international exchange students who come to Kyungpook National University are there to study English, unlike Seoul. 
3. What were the lessons like at the university where you studied?
I took a large number of English language major courses, and many of the classes were taught by foreign professors. Foreign professors tend to decide your marks based on presentation assessments and similar tasks, so I had to work really hard. The Korean students began to study incredibly hard around two weeks before the examinations, and this motivated me a great deal. There is a lot of group work, and plenty of opportunities to make friends with the other students. As a general rule, classes involve conversations between the teachers and the students and you are required to give your opinions, and this was good because it helped me to improve my communication skills.
4. What were the best things about the university where you studied?
The best thing was the large variety of nationalities among the international exchange students and the fact that you are able to make friends with so many different people. If you go to study abroad in an English-speaking country you can expect to meet a lot of international students from Asia, but because Korea is in Asia there tends to be a lot of international students from Europe and Central and South America, and it’s really enjoyable meeting students from so many different countries. It’s also good that you can learn the local language, giving you a third language in addition to English. 
5. What is your message to students preparing to study abroad?
Please be reassured that just because you are studying in Asia it does not mean that you cannot learn English. As long as you leave Japan, whether it is Asia or elsewhere, you will be abroad. When you are abroad you are forced to use English. What’s more, because you are in Asia there are some things that are similar to Japan and other things that are different, and it is fun to make these discoveries. If you want to study English but also want to learn another Asian language you shouldn’t think twice before going. You are guaranteed to gain more than you bargained for. During my one year of study I was given numerous opportunities, including English and Korean study, internships, etc., and I had an extremely rewarding life as an international exchange student. 
Moe Hasebe 
Department: Faculty of Law, Department of Law
Overseas university: Dongguk University (South Korea)
Duration of overseas study: October 2014 to September 2015
1. What has been good and what would you recommend about the university where you are studying?
Dongguk University has a well-developed study environment and the school buildings are really nice. There is a successful English program for overseas students, and there are opportunities to interact with people from numerous countries. It has a really convenient location in the center of Seoul, near places such as Myeong-dong and Heunginjimun. The student dormitories were only recently built and they’re really nice and have a well-developed living environment in terms of telecommunications and security, etc.
2. What is good about studying overseas in Asia?
It is closer and cheaper than studying in the United Kingdom or the United States. Above all, I have gained a sense of a completely different culture, despite the country being so close to Japan in terms of distance. 
3. What is your message to students preparing to study abroad?
Someone actually questioned why I wasn’t going to study in an English-speaking country. However, you can be certain that studying a culture and language that you already have an interest in will provide you with some important experiences. It is only around one month since I began studying abroad and started interacting with local people, but I have felt for myself the differences in thinking and culture despite Korea’s proximity to Japan, and I have developed an interest in pursuing a closer study of the perspectives of both countries. 
Akiko Miyaji
Department: Faculty of Letters, Department of Philosophy
Overseas university: Paris West University Nanterre La Défense (France)
Duration of overseas study: October 2012 to September 2013
1. What was your aim in studying abroad?
I wanted to base myself in Paris, which is renowned for its artistic culture, make occasional trips to nearby countries, and appreciate some of the artwork that it is difficult to see in Japan. I also wanted to study art fields at a French university, to experience French life, and to learn French.
2. What did you study at your overseas university?
I took a lecture seminar in the History of Western Art and also took practical courses in classical, medieval, modern and contemporary art. I also sat classes aimed at international students in French conversation, literacy, and essay-writing. I felt that the French language class I was assigned to beforehand was too difficult for me, and I was relieved when I was able to switch to a class that was one level easier.  
3. What was life like overseas?
Paris has numerous art galleries and there is something going on every day, so I think it is the perfect place for somebody who wants to experience culture. If you have a local student card you can enter the art galleries for free or at a discount, so I went there often. The student dormitories had excellent public transport, security and living environment, and I had a very comfortable time living there as a university student. 
Message from a Student who studied Overseas on a Short-Term Language Course
Satomi Kondo
Department: Faculty of Letters, Department of Philosophy
Course taken: Summer School in the English language (University of York, United Kingdom)
Duration of trip: August to September 2014
York is not a large city like London but it has a long history and beautiful buildings, particularly York Minster (a large cathedral to rival Cologne Cathedral), as well as castle ruins and ramparts. The historic buildings and York Minster allow you to see British history with your own eyes, from the Roman Empire through to the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy, the Vikings, William the Conqueror and George V.
The course was divided into three main parts: lectures aimed at improving language skills; classes on British culture; and a Japanese-British cultural comparison project. In the language classes I learned methods of pronunciation, and I was given detailed specific advice on how to communicate with British people and specific techniques for expressing myself. The teachers and students worked closely together, and the Western-style lesson format (which requires you to speak up actively) and frequent switches to group work gave me opportunities to put my language skills into practice. I am convinced that my speaking skills have improved greatly. 
In the lessons on British culture, I listening to my “mentor” (a student from the University of York who helped me with my studies) speaking about her experiences. I learned about differences in the education system, about music, and about how British people spend their holidays by the seaside, etc.
The project was the most important task on the course. We had to walk around the streets of York carrying out a survey and use this as the basis for giving a research presentation. I had to think of a topic that would be appropriate for the differences between Japanese and British culture and then ask people questions in English on the streets using questions that I thought up myself. It was an excellent opportunity to increase my confidence in using English. 
In addition to the classes, every day when I got home I would put my English into practice by chatting with my host family, and I really enjoyed our conversations by concentrating hard and repeatedly asking for confirmation when I didn’t understand something, instead of pretending to understand. This really helped my vocabulary to increase. I believe that this environment (in which you are able to put what you learn into practice on the same day) is essential to improving your English. It goes without saying that I also tried to improve my English during lessons, but I’m very proud of the fact that I was able to come into contact with the personalities of the British people I met.