B International Studies - Japanese
B International Studies - Japanese

For my semester abroad, I studied at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies (KUFS) in Japan. As a third year International Studies student, I decided to focus on my Japanese major while abroad. I really don’t think I could have made a better choice than KUFS. My time in Japan has been one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had, and probably will ever have. Nothing can describe the experience that is living and studying in another country.

At KUFS there is a special stream for all incoming exchange students to study the Japanese language. The program at KUFS is extremely well designed for the study of Japanese language and culture. A typical day included at least three classes, and a typical week involved daily small tests, homework and a larger test generally once a week. The workload was quite heavy and the lessons intensive, but the gains made were invaluable. The teachers were also very supportive of my studies and I felt like they really cared about every student’s progress and well-being. The university also heavily encourages mingling between exchange and the local student population. There were endless events and activities available to meet Japanese students. The Japanese students were also very welcoming and more than excited to have the opportunity to meet. Everybody at KUFS is also foreign language student, and I found that to be a really supportive environment to study in.

Kyoto is a beautiful place to city in. It is a treasure trove of shrines, temples and stunning scenery. Being able to live in Kyoto felt like a privilege I did not deserve. I’ve been cherry blossoming viewing and saw the sakura blooming amongst the ancient temples and shrines; watched the Kamogawa Odori – a dance performed by Geiko and Maiko; I’ve partaken in tea ceremony at the Kyoto Imperial Palace; spent mornings hiking through ancient cedar forests, and I both witnessed and joined in the Gion Matsuri festivities.

If you want to experience all sides of Japan, and improve your Japanese whilst studying in one of the most beautiful and mysterious places in the world, then I truly recommend an exchange at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. I came to Japan to rediscover my motivation for studying Japanese. What I left with is not only new found motivation, but friends from all over the world, a new outlook on life and experiences that I will treasure forever. I cannot express how truly happy and thankful I am that I went on exchange.

Ailsa Kyoto

Tips:

 Just talk – take the opportunity to speak Japanese as much as possible. This is more important than studying and you will learn so much more from doing so. You will never learn unless you make mistakes
 Get a bike – Kyoto is perfect for cycling, and riding around the city is an experience in itself
 Balance your travel – Japan is not a big country and has an amazing transportation system that can whisk you away to most places in no time. Take any opportunity you can to experience the many sides of Japan, but don’t neglect Kyoto itself. There are so many interesting things to see and do. Take some time out to just wander around and appreciate the beauty of the city. You never know what you might find
 If you have the opportunity, come to Japan earlier. The semester is really short, only four months, and you will only have weekends to travel as classes are from Monday to Friday.

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