Learning a language abroad is, for me, the best way to do it. I think doing this exchange program at Kôbe University will be the best decision I have ever made. As I am doing a Japanese degree (language, literature, history…) in my home country, I have decided to apply for the Faculty of Letters.
Kôbe University is known for receiving a lot of international students from many countries, and I really look forward to be able to make friends with other Japanese students, in Japanese, but also with these international students, in English or Japanese. Moreover, after a trip in Kôbe in 2014, I always wanted to go back there, between the mountains and the sea.
My main goal for this exchange program is obviously to be able to speak and understand Japanese as much as French and English. I hope I would be able to write the next report in Japanese without any mistake. But I am also aiming at leaving my comfort zone, without my parents, learning to live on my own, and understanding a completely different culture.
The first day I arrived at the Kobe University International Residence on Port Island, I met my Japanese tutor who is also a student at Kobe University. Thanks to her, I was able to complete all the administrative papers, like the insurances or the bank. She also became my first Japanese friend at Kobe University.
After the first information meeting at the university, we could try different classes for a week so we could choose the ones that fit our Japanese level and goals. I choose Japanese classes for international students. All the teachers speak only in English, but after a few weeks I was able to understand them easily. I also choose an English class with Japanese students to make new friends. For the second semester, I will try other classes with Japanese students plus the ones for international students. I feel more comfortable speaking in Japanese now, and I’m not scared of making mistakes anymore. I really enjoy being able to speak with people in this beautiful language.
I also really enjoy the city of Kobe. It’s amazing to be able to cross the sea every day to have class on the top of the mountain. There’s a lot of things to do and visit here, like the karaoke or the temples and shrines. Moreover, Port Island is really close to Sannomiya, Harbor Land and Nankinmachi, which are great areas to go with friends. I was also able to attend several matsuri (festivals) in the Kansai. That’s why I think Kobe is a great city for international students.
I really love my life here so far, and I know I will miss it when I’ll be back in France, so I try to enjoy every single day as much as I can.
After these 11 wonderful months in Japan, my exchange is coming to an end, and I can say now that this year is turning point in my life. I have learned so many things that will be hard to sum up in this report.
First, I obviously have learned a lot about Japanese culture and society, but by comparing Japan and France, I have also learned a lot about my own country, and which things could be improved in both countries. I think this is something that only people living in another country for a while could understand, and it is for sure an amazing way of thinking, that could be useful for companies, and even politics.
Moreover, I spent a huge amount of time with other exchange students from countries such as Germany, Spain, Taiwan, China, and so on, who made me aware of global issues that I did not know about, or improvements for their countries, that could also be applied somewhere else.
I have also improved a lot in Japanese, which was my main goal for this exchange. The classes taught me a lot about grammar, kanji, expressions, and the daily life gave me the opportunity to apply what I have just learned. I was quite shy when I arrived, but now I can handle a proper conversation with Japanese people, even about complex topics. My English level also improved by speaking to other exchange students.
Now, I will go back to France to complete my degree, and then, I will try to enter a school where my Japanese, English, and society knowledge will be useful. I would like to work in an international airport, and guide travelers, students, salarymen across the world.
This year was an amazing experience, and I cannot wait to come back to Japan. And if one day I have to possibility to live in Japan, I will choose the city of Kobe, without any hesitation.