Alumni Voice: Enjoying my busy time at AIU-Ania Valcan, University of Aberdeen, U.K.

What do you want to experience at AIU? What do you want to become through study abroad?

In this series of articles, we would like to introduce the articles from past exchange students who have completed their studies at AIU. They will share the most memorable experience, what they learned and how the AIU experience helped them now,  and what they would like to tell international students who are thinking of studying at AIU.

The purpose of studying abroad is different for everyone, but we hope that the stories of alumni will encourage you to consider studying abroad at AIU as a place of learning.

Here is a message from Ania Valcan. She was an exchange student who stayed at AIU in Spring 2019.


Ms. Ania Valcan with Namahage (god from the Oga region in Akita)


I have lived most of my life in the city, so coming to AIU was a rather new experience for me. My semester there made me fall in love with Japan’s nature and find new things I enjoy. While at AIU, I stayed in the Nature and Culture House, which offered plenty of opportunities to explore and experience the local culture and the surrounding nature. The campus was also lovely. My room was close to the edge of the campus, close to where the forests started. The air there was always nice, and it was lovely being able to go for a walk whenever I was tired. 

I enjoyed all of my classes at AIU, but I particularly liked the Ikebana (flower arrangement) class. I loved going to the tatami room every Friday for the class. The class offered many opportunities to learn about Japanese arts and aesthetics and we had many chances to try to practice Ikebana. After taking the class, I started being more aware of my surroundings. Whenever I went on a trip I started noticing and paying more attention to the flowers, the trees, and all the beauty surrounding me. 

Her work after an Ikebana (At the tatami room)


Outside my classes, I was part of multiple clubs, I was doing volunteering with RCOS, and tried to go on as many trips as possible, both with the school and on my own. Looking back on my time at AIU, I was always doing something. I found volunteering with RCOS an incredible experience as I was able to interact with the local community, visit local schools and try things I would have never gotten the chance to try otherwise, such as rice planting. Doing all these activities really made me feel more welcome and engaged with the local community. 

I had planned to study abroad in Japan for a while by the time I applied to AIU. Before, I had always imagined I would go to one of the big cities, but coming to Akita was more than a pleasant surprise. I had one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, and while discovering the local culture, I also got the chance to discover myself. Despite being busy, I felt like I was able to slow down and really enjoy every moment because I liked the things that I was doing. Now, I am looking forward to the day I’ll be able to visit again.

One of her favorite place to visit, at Unshoji – temple in Oga Peninsula known for its hydrangeas