Why Living in Japan is Better than Visiting: Pitchaya Saritdeechaikul, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

exchange students harvesting rice at AIUPitchaya (center, back) at an RCOS rice harvesting event during the fall semester.

Pitchaya Saritdeechaikul is a second semester exchange student from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand.

I began my exchange life in AIU from last August 2016, and now it is already July 2017. Therefore, it has been almost one year. During this one year, I have been through so many things, both good and tough, which I will explain through this article.

Getting Involved: Dance Club

AIU dance club

AIU Dance Club after a practice session.

My favorite part in AIU is AIU Dance club. Since I love dancing so much, so I decided to join this club since I came here, and it has never disappointed me.

Overcoming the Language Barrier

At the beginning, since none of my Thai friends joined this club with me, and I barely knew Japanese, I did not really have a conversations with anyone in the club. It took some time until I started to learn and adjust myself to get along with other people.

At first, I tried to smile most of the time so that other people felt comfortable to come talk with me. Then, I tried to start conversations as much as I can, mostly in English. These two ways really helped me get closer to lots of Japanese friends in the club. Luckily, we had dance practices almost every day, so I got to meet them often and get close faster.

Language and Cultural Learning through Dance

AIU dance club

AIU Dance club celebrating a successful parade performance.

After that adjustment process, I found myself really happy at every practice. I made lots of nice friends who are always kind and help me with everything, both in dancing and learning Japanese culture.

Making friends has also been really good for improving both English and Japanese language skills. Moreover, I learn many new dance skills which different from what I learned in Thailand.

Until now, I have been with them almost a year, been through many things with them such as Dance Virus, the biggest dance event in AIU, and AIU festival. Our friendship has been built strongly. It is going to be hard to say goodbye, but I know that this friendship will last for a lifetime and we will always keep in touch.

Community Outreach and Interaction

Another good experience here for me has been RCOS (Research and Community Outreach Services) activities. The RCOS center always provides opportunities for exchange students to interact with local Japanese people and learn traditional Japanese culture with them.

Rice Farming Experience

rice planting at Akita International University

Pitchaya (foreground, center) planting rice with AIU students and local farmers.

My favorite activities have been rice harvesting and rice planting. It was really fun working with real farmers and learning how they turn hard works into fun activities. I remembered that it was hot and tiring, but I felt so happy throughout the work since many local people came to talk with me in Japanese. It was really fun for both of us to try to understand each other.

After all the work was over, we had a really great party with a lot of traditional food from all the farmer’s wives. This is what makes living in Japan different from just short-term traveling.

Japanese Classes

Other than activities, I also have my favorite academic things which are Japanese classes. I started learning Japanese one year before coming to Japan as a minor in my Thai university. Even though those classes were very fun, I found it is hard to really learn the language while outside the country. Therefore, it is really good opportunity to get to learn Japanese in Japan.

In Japanese classes, I get to learn grammar normally from the textbook. Furthermore, teachers always assign essays as homework, so there are many chances to practice writing. Since teachers always teach in Japanese, it is a good practice for listening. Moreover, everyone in the classes will get to speak and express opinions in Japanese using the grammar points that we just learned. I think this is really fun and make us feel more comfortable speaking Japanese.

Outside classes, it is also easy to practice Japanese with real Japanese people which is really effective.

Closing Reflection

In conclusion, I feel really worthy coming here. Getting to meet many new friends, learn many new life lessons, and also learn to adjust myself to new environment and culture. I can say that my one-year exchange life in AIU is the best memory so far in my life.