Student Voice

2018.05.28Student Voice

My Home Away From Home: Chris Stedman, Griffith University Australia

Akita international university rice harvest Chris Stedman Girffith university

Chris (front, second from right) at a traditional rice harvest

I will be returning to my home in Australia this year in August, at least this was the narrative I had before coming to AIU. Now, I’m not so sure.

Stepping into the Unexpected

I came in to this experience having some preconceived notions as to what Japan was like, but nothing could’ve prepared me for the journey I was about to embark on. This was not my first time in Japan, I’ve visited here twice before, and in those two trips fell in love with Japan, its people, and its culture. The only difference this time was that I came here alone.

Tokyo: The Familiar

I was the only person from my campus to come to AIU during the autumn semester of 2017. Initially, as I stepped off the plane, an immense wave of familiarity washed over me, and I thought to myself ‘Finally, I’m back’. I was thrust into the heart of metropolitan Tokyo and I was ready to go.

Akita: Not What You Expect
Traditional rice harvest in Akita

Traditional rice harvest in Akita

After a few days I arrived here in Akita, and it was not what I expected. AIU is not what you expect, and it’s best for students who are looking at coming here to rid themselves of all expectations, because the AIU experience that myself, and all my friends have had, has been completely different to what we were expecting.

AIU is located basically in the middle of the rural prefecture of Akita (which itself is in the Northeast part of Japan). AIU is surrounded by pristine wooded areas, fantastic scenic walks, breathtaking natural views and filled with some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. It still takes me by surprise that I feel closer to some of my friends here than I do to friends I’ve known for years back in Australia. The community of International and Domestic students is incredibly welcoming and inclusive, with it being easy to make new friends from various backgrounds.

Christ Stedman Akita International University shrine

Chris, third from right, with friends from AIU on his travels.

Experiences and Relationships at AIU

I was asked to write about my favourite experience that I’ve had at AIU, but to be honest I cannot pick an individual experience to be my favourite, there are simply too many.

While here I have traveled the country (satisfying my wanderlust), lived and worked in Tokyo, hiked, biked, ran, swam, laughed, and cried. AIU gave me the chance to satisfy my academic endeavours while living the life I want to live.

The relationships you make at AIU transcend borders, obstacles, and distance. To me, I don’t feel like I’ve added new friends to my friend group, to me, I feel like I’ve added new members to my family. However, I am supposed to be returning home to Australia soon, but as I sit here writing this article I can’t help but ask myself ‘Am going home? Or leaving home?’