Student Voice

2018.02.05Student Voice

Making the Most of a Semester: Baxter Banwell, St. Cloud State University, USA

Baxter Banwell from St. Cloud State University at Akita International University traveling in Kyoto

Baxter (center) visiting Kyoto with Friends

Baxter Banwell Tokyo Capital Building

Visiting the capitol building in Tokyo

My time here at AIU has been one of the greatest of my life and has gone by much too fast.

I remember the nervous excitement as I got on the plane headed to Japan like it was yesterday. I have met some lifelong friends here in Akita, while also creating lifelong memories. Some of my favorite memories at AIU have definitely been with all of the students here - whether it be at clubs, in class, hanging out in Komachi Hall common area, or exploring Akita city.

New Experiences

I have experienced many firsts during my time in Akita. Of these, my most memorable experiences have been travel around places like Akita, Kobe, Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, visiting shrines, climbing mountains, meeting and talking to locals, and even snorkeling and fishing in the ocean. It’s difficult to describe the beauty of Japan - you have to see it in person to truly experience the beauty of it.

Kobe harborland

On a side trip to Kobe

During the month of August I also had the opportunity to stay with four different host families in Akita as part of a sister city event between Akita and St. Cloud, Minnesota. This was a once in a lifetime experience that helped me better grasp what daily life looks like in Japan, as well as drastically improving my Japanese listening and speaking skills.

Improving Japanese Language Ability

I also have loved having the opportunity to continue practicing and speaking Japanese here on campus.

Even though this school has classes in all English there are still plenty of opportunities to practice. The LDIC is a great example of this. During my time here I worked as a conversation partner program leader to help Japanese students practice their English, as well practicing my Japanese with them.

Here at AIU I have also made many Japanese friends, who I talk to in both English and Japanese daily. I am sad to be going home in December, but I am overjoyed that I will be able to stay in touch with all of these amazing people - and that I have been given this incredible study abroad experience.