I came to Japan with a very open mind, no plans, and no expectations. I was excited to begin a new adventure. I’ve been at AIU for just over two months now and it has been an amazing experience to learn not just about Japan and other cultures, but also about myself.
I came to AIU with no Japanese language skills, an absolute beginner. I immediately felt so behind. Many of the international students I met during orientation already spoke some Japanese and had been taking classes at their home universities. I was also overwhelmed by the language barrier.
However, learning Japanese and my Japanese class here at AIU has become one of the best parts of my experience. After only two months of studying, I have already noticed huge changes in my ability to communicate and understand others. As someone who considered themselves terrible at learning languages, this has left me with a sense of accomplishment and confidence in myself. The classroom environment has contributed to this immensely. Everyone is helping each other to learn and get better every day.
I was dreading having to learn Japanese, but it has now become something I am happy to do. I am excited to go to class every week and to study on my own.
As people often, note AIU is isolated, and at first, I found this to be an inconvenience, but now I feel that it is a blessing in disguise.
When I am in Canada at my home university, I am always busy between classes, club obligations, and a part-time job. I do not have a lot of time to myself. On exchange, these responsibilities are lessened substantially and combined with AIU’s isolation from other activities, I was at first very bored.
Now I have come to find this to be one of the best parts of my exchange experience. The lack of distractions and external activities has forced me to look inwards and find things that I want to focus my energy on. At home, I am too busy to do some of the things that bring me joy, but here I have lots of time and this has helped me to reconnect with myself and what matters to me. I have started to read books again for pleasure and to practice yoga, both things I have not found time for since starting university. In the afternoons when my classes end, I can go for a walk and enjoy the beautiful nature that surrounds this campus or go sit and read a book.
For me, I have really enjoyed the more relaxed pace of life I have at this university, I do not feel a need to be busy every minute of the day. I can focus on myself and what makes me happy.