Student Voice

2018.01.08Student Voice

Experiencing AIU from Finnish Perspective: Tapio Hirsivaara, University of Lapland, Finland

Arrival and Orientation

Tapio Hirsivaara University of Lapland rolling dough for soba noodles Akita International University Odate city

Tapio making soba noodles during a Monitor Tour in Odate City

I came to Akita for fall semester 2017. The first thing that surprised me was how well everything was organized for international students. Two weeks of orientation surely helped us getting our studies to start smoothly in the University. In the beginning we learnt a lot about the studies and activities. And even though there was lot to get used to, you also had good time to get to know other students as well.

Settling in to Campus Life and Activities

Living on campus was a completely new experience for me as in Finland everybody lives off-campus.

Living in Sakura Village gave my own peace when needed, however you’re never alone at AIU. There seems to be always some fun activity or even to attend to every week. Also, the clubs arrange even more activities to participate. I joined Shorinji Kempo club and did some trips with Wandervogel group. Also the Resident Assistants (RAs) did a great job organizing social events for everybody which lead to good relations between students at AIU.

Active Participation in the Classroom

After rolling in courses and starting the actual studies, I was amazed how enthusiastic and inspiring the teachers were in all of the courses I had taken.

A lot of the courses have some sort of projects that encourages into active participation on the taught subject. This was a bit unfamiliar to me at first since I’ve used to only studying by attending exams or returning research papers. However, I can see the benefit from exercising active participation as a part of education. This way students can learn concrete ways to actually influence things instead of just passively studying.

Experiencing Local Culture on a Monitor Tour

I’ve done a few RCOS (Research and Community Outreach Services) events and the most memorable one was a Monitor Tour (participating in tour as part of a test group) to Odate.

In this trip students were able to go to Odate City, learn about its traditions and participate into various events. I loved the local people who taught us how to make Soba noodles, Magewappa (a type of lunch box unique to Akita), Onigiri (rice balls) and enabled us to participate in multiple events such as visiting local Onsen (hot springs) and spending the night at a Farm Stay. I felt as if in this trip you could really experience or learn about the traditional Japan. This was most definitely a unique experience I’ll remember forever.

Coming to AIU was my primary choice for exchange and having spent time here has only acknowledged me that I’ve done the perfect choice. The community, education, and experiences at AIU are really good and I’ve felt welcome and at ease here. I recommend AIU to anyone considering exchange in Japan.