At first, to me Akita was a rural area where you could easily encounter a bear in Japan and also where Shinchan’s uncle lives. The university itself is also far from the city so I thought that there wouldn’t be so many things to do. Consequently, I did a lot of research about transportation to travel elsewhere in Japan.
However, after I arrived at Akita, I realized that I like the atmosphere at Akita better. For example, in Tokyo, every single thing is too rushed but here you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of rice fields and mountains.
I highly recommend you to take Japanese course here at AIU, since the teachers are very dedicated to teaching. You will be asked to take the placement test if you have prior knowledge so you will be placed in the right classroom. Also, there are various courses to support your skills (if your level is higher than upper elementary) such as pronunciation, reading, listening, etc.
Moreover, there is a program called FLCP (Foreign Language Conversation Partner) where you can try to communicate with native speakers. There are a lot of languages available such as Japanese, English, Spanish, etc. Therefore, it is really helpful if you want to improve your skills!
There are many activities to participate in AIU such as clubs, the festival committee, RCOS and so on.
I had a really good time during the RCOS activity. RCOS is a community outreach program that you can have a chance to interact with the local people in Akita of all ages.
There are Welcome and Visit activities. The welcome activity is the one that you will get to have a chat and do activities with Japanese children who came to AIU in English. The visit activity is the one that you will go out and meet the local people.
I was most impressed by the rice harvesting activity. I have heard that Akita people are very kind, but that was the first time I experienced their kindness myself. We went to help them doing the rice harvesting but then they tried to make sure we all got to try harvesting the rice both by doing it manually and using the machine. I was so touched that they tried to create a memorable experience for us. Even though this event does not have any reward such as cash, we already received their kindness instead of that and it is much better.
Also, there are activities organized by the students such as from AUWA club, Project R and so on. I joined the apple picking event by Project R. The farm owners, who we all called uncle and aunty, taught us how to pick them properly and prepared apples for us after we completed our job. That was another time that I received kindness from Akita people.
I really want to thank myself for choosing Akita as my exchange destination back then although not having a clue of how it would turn out. Sadly, I have only two months left in this semester before going back to Thailand. Even though it is a pretty short time, so far it has been an amazing experience and will be included in my lifetime experience for sure.