One of the reasons I came to AIU was because of the Nihongo House, a place I could live with Japanese students and become more immersed in the Japanese language. One experience that really stuck with me was going to a Fox Parade in Akita City through the Nihongo House. The parade took place the day that Typhoon Hagibis hit Akita, so we didn’t actually get to parade through the streets, but it was such an amazing experience. We got our faces painted, dressed up in kimonos, got to observe the ceremony in the shrine, and see all of the traditional singing and dancing while participating with noisemakers. We even were invited to a dinner afterwards celebrating all the work that went into making the parade possible.
I really enjoyed participating in RCOS activities, which involve helping K-12 students across the prefecture with English, whether that be welcoming them on campus or at their own schools. I traveled to many elementary and middle schools during my stay, and I even visited a kindergarten once. At almost every school we were given time to walk around and explore, and I often picked the visits that included school lunches so I could see what they were like in Japan (amazing food compared to the U.S.). I also joined the Happocho Program through RCOS where we would go to Happo (~2 hours north of Akita City) and do events with the locals, including a homestay.
AIU also offers a few field trips throughout the semester, to places like Kakunodate, the Oga Peninsula, and Yokote. In Kakunodate, I walked up the mountain with a group of friends and there was an amazing view— Akita Prefecture is a very beautiful place. That same day we visited Lake Tazawa (the deepest lake in Japan). I highly recommend taking advantage of these bus trips to see different places around the prefecture. I also recommend taking advantage of the long weekends to take trips around Japan outside of Akita Prefecture— I went to Hokkaido one weekend and got to see so much!
I had so many great experiences during my stay at AIU and it was hard to pick just a few things to talk about, but in conclusion, Akita is a beautiful place and AIU gives many opportunities to explore the prefecture and participate in the community.
Studied at AIU in the Fall 2019 Semester and currently studying in AIU's online Spring 2020 Semester.