Student Voice

2017.09.25Student Voice

Returning to AIU as a Graduate Student: Alumni Voice, Alina Friel, Far Eastern Federal University, Russia

Alina Friel Akita International University Hanami

Hanami (Sakura viewing) at Senshu Park in Akita

AIU as a Study Abroad Experience

When I came to AIU for the first time in August, 2014 as an exchange student, I did not know what to expect. I hoped as a Japanese language learner I would be able to improve my Japanese skills and maybe – just maybe – make some friends.

Akita International University community outreach services RCOS apple farm trip

Community Outreach Visit to an Apple Farm with AIU Friends

However, in addition to my enjoyable study with amazing professors, I made an enormous number of new friends from all around the world. I also participated in a myriad of various events which included lots of communication with the local community of Akita.

With the help of RCOS (Research and Community Outreach Services), field trips to local schools, a trip to the apple farm, Japanese language speech contests and even building a giant Kamakura are some examples! Here I felt welcomed and the closer my day of departure came the more I started to realize that I wanted to stay.

Yokote kamakura festival Akita International University

Preparing for the Kamakura Festival

In addition to that, AIU taught me about the importance of having firsthand experience, it taught me to think independently of stereotype and prejudice. Despite political disagreements amongst the EU, Russia, Japan and the United States I am friends with lots of folks from these countries. And, most importantly, in AIU I med a young handsome Irishman who would later become my husband.

While being abroad there are so many things you understand not only about the country that hosts you, but about your motherland too. Constant analysis, comparison and observation enriches your knowledge about everything around you. Yet after an amazing year I had to return to my home country to complete my undergraduate degree in Russia, Vladivostok, but I promised myself that someday I would visit AIU again.

The little I knew.

Akita International University international students at Komachi Hall dormitory

Alina (center-left) with a few friends in front of AIU's Komachi Hall

AIU as a graduate school experience

Akita International University matriculation ceremony

Second matriculation to Akita International University - this time as a graduate student

In April, 2017, my second adventure with AIU began. After leaving Akita I realized AIU had changed me so much that my previous world became too small for me and that I needed more exploration and experience.

Now as a global communication practices student in AIU professional graduate school, I continue to involve myself in many activities and have started participating in even more of them, such as English Village, E-camp and teaching English to elementary school children. Since someday I want to become a teacher these experiences are priceless to me. And, just as during my study abroad, I continued to make new friends and still keep in touch with my old ones, some of whom also decided to come back to AIU again.

Akita International University teaching English

Teaching English at an elementary school in Akita

In AIU graduate school, my enjoyable studies have continued with courses in PR, leadership and group communication, journalism and global communication, where I get a great opportunity to directly interact with my professors and classmates due to small classes and lots of group projects. However, the most valuable and adventurous to me was my Spanish class. Studying Spanish was a dream of mine for many years and now I am eternally grateful to AIU that my dream come true.