Trying to answer the question “what is AIU like?” is a challenge. There have been so many positive and surprising things about this place that I’m not sure where to start.
Experiencing a Small Campus
The most noticeable thing about this place is the size of the campus. I come from a university with between 20 and 25 thousand students and here the total number of degree-seeking students is between 800 and 900. The contrast is startling. I do think it is a good thing though. The small size of the campus makes it so much easier to make friends, since I see the same people almost every day on campus and at events, creating a homey feeling.
This homey and caring feeling is something that I have also felt from the university staff since I was accepted as an exchange student here and they obviously care very much about all of their students, domestic and exchange students. The information before arrival was top notch and every question since then has been quickly answered.
The other thing that impresses me about this place is the amount of clubs and activities that they offer.
During our orientation, we were introduced to several clubs and the following week we were all invited to test around twenty different clubs and events. I am a part of the handball club. Imagine my surprise at getting a chance to play the sport I quit almost ten years ago, again! We are a very diverse group of players with skills ranging from over eight years worth of playing down to complete beginners and we always have a great time at practice.
Language Conversation Partner ProgramEvery exchange student is also qualified to be a language conversation partner for English, meaning you offer up two hours a week where the local students and the Japanese students can make an appointment with you to just speak English and improve their conversation skills. I have been doing this since the semester began and I am very happy that I signed up.. I have met so many great Japanese students that I wouldn’t have met or talked to otherwise and it is one of the highlights of my week.
The biggest event this semester has been the fifteenth annual AIU festival. During the long weekend in October, after a year of planning, the festival commitee arranged a two day party on campus, with an international and local flea market, several food stands with the chance to vote for the best one, as well as multiple shows and performances on two different stages. Over 2,000 people visited the campus for the festival.
The size of AIU is both its strength and sometimes its weakness, if you are comfortable with a smaller more intimate campus with many chances to interact with the local Japanese community and other students you will really enjoy your time here at Akita International University, just as I do.