It is my third time in Japan. Who’d have guessed that you can see the country better as a student than you could ever hope to as a mere tourist? I currently write this two and a half weeks before my return back home. It was a short four months, but long enough to make the contacts you want to make, see the places you want to see, and test the strength of your will in balancing dorm parties with constant assignments. It all happens while fueling yourself with the endless supply of white rice, miso soup, and green tea, amidst the sun, snow, and rain. It is the prefecture of the autumn rice field, after all. Akita as a location is as rural and isolated as it gets. But AIU as a university is as international as they come. And the experiences that both of these combined provided are as unique as they could ever be.
Who is AIU for, and what can you do?
If you’re city folk, give your lungs and eyes a fresh new start with the infinite expanse of rice fields, mountains, and wild bears. If you’re village folk, well then, you’ll feel right at home. Are you worried about culture shock? AIU is a global bubble, and unless you’re from a tiny country like my own Malta, you’ll be with others of your nationality. But truly, if you’re an adventure seeker, global thinker, and world stage performer, then AIU is the place for you. Thanks to a combination of the university’s events, my initiatives and of course, my senpai’s car, I’ve completed, in no particular order: mountain climbing, English teaching, rice planting, vegetable seeding, nighttime fishing, festival dancing, student filming, onsen bathing, tofu making, miso making, apple picking, roller skating, bike riding, room partying, debating, kayaking, karaoke, pilgrimage, calligraphy, photoshoots, tourism workshops, television interviews, school visits, nomikais (drinking party), tabehoudais (all you can eat buffet), homestays, hanami (cherry blossom viewing), hanabi (fireworks), interacting with the elderly, and of course… a lot of rice-eating along the way. And that’s how you manage to take 2,429 pictures in 105 days. Suffice to say, despite the university’s isolated location, you can involve yourself with as many activities as you have the motivation for, and then some.
Make an effort to learn Japanese before coming here. Lecture life is English only, but life otherwise will be improved with moderate fluency of Japanese. Involve yourself and don’t be shy. Welcome the fact that you’ll be living on campus. The student accommodation is what completes the package of experiences offered by AIU. And watch Attack on Titan. There are more fans of this anime at AIU than there are at your home university, guaranteed. It also just happens to be an excellent anime.
My time in AIU, and 2019 in general so far, has been a very emotional, exceptional experience. My exchange was scarred at its midpoint by an exceedingly difficult reality that I had to face back home, and the constant stream of lectures, assignments and tests made periods of my stay here tiresome at best, tearful at worst. But the solid community that this university is built upon, coupled with the myriad of wholesome distractions possible only in rural, far-flung Akita, made my time in AIU a double-edged blessing, and an unforgettable journey. Your expectations will be met, your satisfaction will be quenched, and your youthful independence will be realized. Akita International University receives the highest of recommendations from me.