Student Voice: My experience at AIU-Lada Temnakova, Masaryk University, Czech Republic

AIU has restarted hosting international exchange students for the first time in two years starting from the Spring 2022 semester. Student Voice introduces what international exchange students have learned and experienced at AIU and in Akita.

Here is a message from Ms. Lada Temnakova.

When I was choosing a suitable university to study in Japan, I thought about many options. In the beginning, AIU seemed very far away from everything that I imagined Japan to be as a foreigner (big cities like Tokyo, Osaka, or Kyoto). However, very soon I realized that to experience the “real” Japan there was no better choice than AIU. 

Akita Prefecture is in the north of Honshu Island, and as for the location of the campus, it’s away from everything. It can take about 20 minutes by car to Akita City, but only if you’re lucky enough to have Japanese friends who own cars. However, if you are not that lucky would it make travel impossible? Not at all! Seek and ye shall find.

Photo from the beginning of May 2022, when the rice is planted, and the fields look like mirrors

In fact, for most of my journeys from campus, I just went on foot to Wada train station, about 40 minutes away, from where I continued with my friends to random places on the map. Indeed, trains stop in nearly all nearby towns, even small ones. For example, you can get to a small town called Noshiro and visit a local family restaurant with excellent okonomiyaki(Japanese pancake)or go to see a waterfall in the middle of a forest. Akita Prefecture offers stunning landscapes wherever you go – rice paddies, quaint houses all around, and scenery that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a Ghibli movie.

How can I say that AIU is truly “international”? The reason is that I don’t think there are many places where you can meet so many different people of so many different nationalities and backgrounds, whether from abroad or from different prefectures of Japan itself. Being in Japan is not only about Japan but also about all the other people and friends you meet here, with whom you can form strong connections that would never have happened without this university. Everyone on campus lives very close, which only deepens these friendships.  

Photo from Noshiro City where we visited a Buddhist temple called Honcho-ji

Learning Japanese and being able to communicate in Japanese is also a very special thing that I have experienced very often in my trips around either Akita Prefecture or the Tōhoku area in general. It’s not common to encounter English-speaking Japanese people in small towns, which makes the experience even more rewarding because it’s a definite challenge to deal with communication issues and test your knowledge in practice. Then, when we got to where we wanted to go without messing up even once, it was a real sense of triumph.

I recommend AIU because you can experience what you would hardly experience around big cities. You can meet great people from all over the world and above all, get to know yourself better.

From the Center for International Affairs

Study abroad at AIU was probably the best choice for Lada, who has a challenging spirit to travel to unfamiliar places while applying the knowledge she has learned and the Japanese language. We hope she will use the experience and confidence she gained at AIU to do her best in her home country as well.