Adapting to a new culture : Julie Truong, Sciences Po Grenoble, France

Julie Truong, second from right at the Akita Airport, On the last day in Akita


August 24th, in Akita station, sitting with my parents, I met the first student of AIU. She asked me to come with her to take a bus to the university. One year later, I still remember this day, hot, difficult to leave my family but excited to meet new people. That day, I met people who became my closest friends. I learned so much in just one year; it’s difficult to explain a range of emotions I went through during my stay at AIU: fear, culture shock, adaptation, tears, happiness, and gratefulness…

When I arrived in AIU, my world changed. When I was leaving France, I thought that I would be familiar with the culture of Japan soon because of my Asian origins (My father is Vietnamese).
It didn’t take me long to realize that it was a mistake. Everything was so new to me, the food (eating rice three times a day for the very first time!), having to speak English every day from the very beginning of the day (something quite tricky at the start, hahaha), and feeling different cultures and Japanese manners. For example, do not have direct eye contact with anyone. This demeanor is really impolite and offensive in Japan, which is contrary to my French way. Adapting myself to new customs, I learned a lot. I tried my best not to limit my mind to stereotypes. I discovered a country where I feel great to live.

A Spanish proverb says “El que tiene la langua, tiene la llave” (Who speaks the language is the one who has the key). As I improve my Japanese language skills, I start to learn more, and met incredible people who taught me a lot, and changed my way of living. With those people, my dear friends, I experimented with traveling in Japan, I learn the whole new languages, cultures, and philosophies.

On August 5th, I will leave AIU to go back to my country. I don’t want to leave. I like my life in here and the weather in Akita, the peaceful countryside of Japan, the atmosphere of the campus, the beautiful library, my teachers, my friends, the diversity of people in AIU… I learned so much and still want to continue to learn more. I am so thankful to everyone, the local people with whom I enjoyed speaking. I am grateful to AIU for giving me an incredible chance to study abroad. I wish to thank my friends and family for supporting me all the time.