Student Voice: Experiencing Rural Life and Changing Seasons in Akita – Magdalyn EPLING, The University of Kentucky, U.S.A.

Magdalyn EPLING, The University of Kentucky, U.S.A. is participating in our exchange program starting in the Spring 2023 semester. We would like to introduce her experience at AIU.

AIU offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in rural Japanese life. As a student at AIU, I have had the privilege of living in the countryside and experiencing Japan’s charming seasonal changes.

When I was researching universities for my study abroad semester, one of the first things that struck me about AIU was its beautiful campus and surroundings. Located in the mountains and surrounded by farming communities, the lovely atmosphere of Akita makes every walk to class and bus ride into town a pleasant experience. Shortly after I arrived in April, AIU’s campus became a surreal sight with the delicate pink sakura blossoms in full bloom; as the petals gently fluttered down, they created a carpet of soft pink across campus which was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The blooms eventually dissipated and made way for lush green leaves, a vivid reminder of the ephemeral beauty of nature and the importance of appreciating each passing season.

Springtime bus trip to Kakunodate with friends

Beyond the campus, the natural beauty of Akita is a constant source of inspiration and awe. The area is a haven for various wildlife, with colorful birds high up in the trees, frogs croaking in the streams, and squirrels scurrying across the paths. I was even lucky enough to see a Japanese serow, an antelope-like animal labeled “the living national treasure” of Japan’s forests, just before it ran back into the mountains. As a photographer and an animal lover, it was a true delight to witness nature’s harmony unfold in a place where everything was new to me.

Natural hot spring and Sakura blossoms

Living in Akita and experiencing rural life here has allowed me to appreciate the simple pleasures of Japan in a way that is not accessible to most foreigners. My time at AIU has been an experience for which I will always be grateful.

Flowers, a caterpillar, and a frog all seen on walks around campus