This semester, it’s quite special for me. I started my study abroad program through Zoom in Taiwan. I really like the culture, people, and environment of Japan, yet I haven’t gotten the chance to deeply experience and understand the country I like so much. As a result, having the exchange experience to Japan has been my dream since my first year in college. Last October, I successfully got the chance to get into Akita International University for the exchange program of this semester (which is my last semester in college). Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, I was informed that the classes would all be online. To be honest, I anticipated that my experience in AIU would completely become some kinds of routines, boring online courses at first. I mean, an exchange program without “exchanging life”, what would be the fun of it? However, after taking 10 weeks of online courses in AIU, I have totally different comments now.
The online courses in AIU are all interesting and in high quality. In each class, I can always get to Zoom classroom without any trouble. Teachers are familiar with how to operate the system of Zoom, which allows us to share our screens to do presentations successfully, and go to break out rooms to discuss with classmates.
In addition, the contents of all courses are very plentiful. We learn theories and do actual practice simultaneously. In Japanese class, not only vocabulary and grammar, but using them in conversation. In Japanese flower arrangement class, we not only learn about the skills, but practice it and finish our works through Zoom. All these make the online courses be like physical ones and give me a great learning experience here.
Besides online courses, there are lots of sessions being held via zoom as well. Every week, there are two regular sessions I always participate in, “Happy Wednesday” gives me a chance to have a fun talk with other Japanese people and practice my Japanese. “CinemAkita” provides a wonderful Friday night watching movies in an entertaining way and chatting with others.
Out of these two regular sessions, I also participated in the activity called “International Parcel Project”. In this project, each foreign student would get one Japanese partner. You needed to prepare a parcel with something from your country and sent it to your partner. Two weeks ago, I got the package form my Japanese partner, there were so many delicious snacks, foods and a good of anime from Japan. I really enjoyed it!
To sum up, I do feel some disadvantages of online exchange program. It’s more difficult to make new friends, I can’t walk in the beautiful campus of AIU and actually experience the life in Japan. These sad things truly exist. However, I can also say, the online exchange in AIU makes me feel like I’m actually studying abroad. It makes my last semester in college whole and fantastic! If I have a chance in the future, I will definitely choose AIU again without hesitation. Time flies, I have only about one month left in AIU, I’ve created lots of great memories here, and I’m still very excited to finish the remaining classes!