Student Voice

2018.12.31Student Voice

My Experiences Studying at AIU: Nico Arioli, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Winterthur (ZHAW), Switzerland

Akita International University Zurich University of Applied Sciences Winterthur (ZHAW) exchange student at Lake Tazawa

Nico (left) with friends on the shore of Lake Tazawa

Multicultural Campus Life

Life on the AIU campus is very varied, interesting and a very special experience. This is my first semester abroad and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people and to learn something about the country and the culture. AIU has not only many Japanese students from all over Japan, but also many international students. Consequently, I did not only talk with Japanese students, but also interacted with people from America, Australia, France, Sweden, China and many more. This gives one the chance of growing oneself, of extending one’s horizon and of seeing the world from another perspective.

I live in Global Village which means that I share my room with another student. The room is big enough to cook some easy dishes and to coexist peacefully.

The campus itself is considerably big, has several computer rooms for studying, a big and beautiful library, a cafeteria, a cafe and many other nice places to spend time, including a big room with mirrors to dance or play some table tennis.

Excursions and Undertakings

At AIU there is always something going on, even though the campus is a bit in the outskirts.

Since I have been here, AIU has again and again offered different programs, for example the opportunity to teach English at different schools or the unique experience of rice harvesting. A lot of trips are offered, too. My favourite so far was our trip to Kakunodate, which is a small Samurai village, and Lake Tazawa, the deepest lake in Japan. It was amazing to spend a day with my friends and learn something about the story of the samurai. A car took us to all those different places, so we had not to organize nothing.

Kakunodate and Lake Tazawa Trip
lake tazawa landscape

Overlooking Lake Tazawa

On Saturday 8:00 am a bus came to pick us up directly at the AIU campus. We were driven to the heart of Kakunodate, which is a small samurai village about one hour from Akita, and were given some free time. I was together with some friends and we visited some of the samurai houses that were built in the Edo period (~1868). There were some shops, too, that sold food, sweets, sake, and all kinds of souvenirs. Later, we had lunch in a small restaurant and we walked back to the buses along the river.

The bus afterwards took us to a herb garden and a soy factory. It was amazing to see what they all did with soy sauce. There were many things to try, from meat with soy sauce, over different kinds of soy sauce itself, to dumplings and pickles. The shop even sold soy ice cream which was delicious.

My highlight of that day was our stop at Lake Tazawa, the deepest lake in Japan. It was surrounded by mountains and forests as far as I could see. I guess it would be amazing for some hiking tours. We found a golden statue at the lake and small house on a footbridge which seemed to have a religious purpose. Again, we were given some time to spend at the lake or in the small souvenir shop across the street. There even was a small cafe, but we were just sitting at the lake and enjoying the peaceful silence and the nature.

At some point at the lake we discovered thousands of small fish in the water. So, some of us bought some food and started to feed them. This was a fun conclusion before our bus left.

We arrived at AIU at 5:00 pm and had enough time to relax, take a shower and have dinner before we met at the bar near our campus for a beer and some small talk about how amazing and interesting our day was.

Kanto festival practice

Kanto Team practice on campus

Not only the excursions make AIU an interesting place but also many of the clubs offered on the campus. Since I love doing sports I attend the volley ball and badminton club, but there is also a basket ball club, a field track group and many more. All those interested into the culture of japan should definitely not miss the Japanese tea ceremony club, the Kanto club or the Kendo club. It does not matter whether you are already experienced or interested beginner, since the clubs are open-minded towards everyone.

Traveling Around Japan

If you are not too busy with learning you can use your free days or your weekend to travel around Japan. Besides taking a flight or a night bus from Akita to Tokyo on Friday or Thursday evening, which is extremely cheap compared to the train, there are also some interesting places in the North of Japan or in Central Japan.

Akita International University exchange students Yamadera

Nico and friends on an excursion to Yamadera in Yamagata Prefecture

One of my highlights was a weekend trip with some friends to a place called Yamadera. We had our hotel in the city of Yamagata, where we arrived on Saturday noon. Then we went to Yamadera where we visited a big temple complex in the mountains. Due to the weather, we could not see everything which is why we went there once more on Sunday. We spent the rest of the day visiting Yamagata. For Saturday night we ate in an izakaya, a typical Japanese restaurant, before we had a lot of fun in one of the karaoke bars.