Student Voice

2018.07.02Student Voice

Own Every Second: Matilda Sjöberg, Linnaeus University, Sweden

Akita international university rice planting linnaeus university Matilda Sjoeberg

Matilda (standing, fourth from left) with AIU students and local farmers at a rice planting event in Takinomata.

The more fun we have, the faster time seems to pass by. As I write this, I am at the halfway point of this journey. Looking back I have absolutely no clue were the time has gone and I know, even though I dread it, that the closer I get to the end of this semester the faster it will go. . .

Exceptions of Akita – And Reality

The beginning of the semester was unexpectedly cold,

I tried to travel to Japan without too many expectations. I know that things rarely are as you believe them to be, but of course it was very hard to not imagine how the exchange semester I had been preparing for the past 18 months would play out. So, with maybe a few too many images in my head and expectations I landed at Akita International Airport on the first of April, the air was very cold and the snow did still cover the ground (surprise number one) but I immediately fell in love with Akita!

So, what about those expectations? I have had so much more fun than I even could have imagined and Akita and AIU have proved me wrong time after time.

I was a little bit concerned about the campus being in the middle of “nowhere” but now I feel so lucky to be able to enjoy such stunning nature and beautiful surroundings. The AIU campus is also one of a kind, everyone here is so friendly – the staff, students and teachers – Akita has truly become my second home.

Learning About Japanese Culture

My dream for the future is to work with tourism, especially tourism in Asia, therefor I had two goals with this semester, firstly learn as much about the Japanese culture as I can.

This semester I am only taking classes related to Japan and the Japanese language and each and everyone of them are super interesting. I cannot pick a favourite, but the class with the most interesting perspectives has been “Introduction to Japanese Society”, it is very fascinating to get to know the Japanese society deeper and get to discuss it with students from all over the world.

Outside the Classroom* Traveling

To experience Akita, you have to be prepared to get your hands - and feet - a little dirty

The second goal for this semester is to discover and travel around Akita (and Japan) as much as I can.

Rice Planting

I have already done a lot of traveling and joined several activities arranged by school. My two favourites so far are the rice planting experiences. The first one was with elementary school children, it was so much fun! Despite not being able to communicate fluently in Japanese it was easy to communicate with the kids: plenty of high fives, easy sentences and laughter did the job. I guess children are always children no matter where you go. The other one was in Takinomata village, we planted rice and then had lunch with the locals.

Shirakami Sanchi World Heritage Site

At Shirakami Sanchi

The most beautiful place I have visited to date must be the UNESCO world heritage site Shirakami Sanchi, the forest was absolutely gorgeous, and the blue pond was one of its kind. I have never seen a body of water that clear and blue, I could have stayed there for hours just watching the water.

I am also a part of the themed house program and next week we are going on a field trip to Koiwai farm in Iwate prefecture, I really look forward to that trip!

Among the Namahage at Oga Peninsula

Own Every Second

There is a song by One republic named “I lived” and I have tried to live by that lyrics during my stay here; “I owned every second that this world could give, I saw so many places, the things that I did, yeah, with every broken bone I swear I lived”.

As an exchange student that is here for only one semester I wanna do and try everything I possibly can, I do not wanna have any regrets when my time is up, I wanna go be able to go back to Sweden and say: “Yeah, I lived”!