Student Voice: The best decision- Elina SMIRNOVA, National Research University Higher School of Economics (St. Petersburg), Russia

Elina SMIRNOVA from National Research University Higher School of Economics (St. Petersburg), Russia, is an exchange student studying online in Fall 2021 Semester. We would like to introduce her experience at AIU.



Studying in Japan was one of my greatest goals, especially since visiting Japan in 2018 for the first time. AIU’s location became a deciding factor for me. Going to AIU was a great chance to see Japan from a different perspective, the side of the country not many visitors get to see. I was looking forward to seeing the beautiful nature of northern Japan, getting a chance to communicate with local people, and experiencing the culture which is specific to the Akita Prefecture.

During the trip to Japan in 2018 with classmates from home university


Taking online classes from another country can be a challenge due to the time differences. The time difference with my home university would be six hours, however, I decided to come back to my home country, Kazakhstan, to study at AIU, where the time difference with Japan is only three hours.

All of the classes are well-organized, and the instructors make sure that all of the students learn something new every day! The special thing I would like to point out is my Japanese class. I am privileged to be the only student in my class this year, which at first was shocking and, of course, a big challenge for me. However, my instructor always makes sure that our classes are filled with knowledge as well as fun activities. Sometimes Japanese students are invited to the classes to help me practice the language with native speakers, and my Japanese languages skills have grown so far!

AIU also provides a big variety of extracurricular activities. I am a member of Nihongo House, so I get to communicate in Japanese with people from many different countries and to hear about their culture. I enjoy learning about different customs and traditions, and I also introduced my own! I am from Kazakhstan, and we made an open presentation about my country in the Japanese class. I was thrilled to see many people showing interest in Kazakhstan and its culture. I also made a small presentation for students of one of the elementary schools in Akita about Kazakhstan during an RCOS activity.

Kazakhstan’s most famous place – Baiterek


Once the global situation allows me to, I will definitely come to visit Akita because studying at AIU showed me how wonderful people are there, and also taught me how unique northern Japan is! Difficulties are inevitable, however, I can confidently say that studying at AIU was the best decision.