1/ To learn more about Japanese way of life
First of all, even though I know how difficult it can be to stay only with native Japanese during a year, I am really look forward to learning more about the Japanese lifestyle and become familiar with their cultural background. Indeed, I have never left Europe except once when I went to Africa, but Asia is an area where I still never have set foot in. Besides, all I know now about Japan society are just a bunch of stereotypes and I really would like to be able to figure out right from wrong.
2/ To improve my English and learn Japanese
Moreover, the language is one of the major reasons which made me decide to come to Kobe University in Japan. I feel very comfortable with languages in general, especially when it comes to speaking. But I admit that I know very little about Japanese language at the momet, and I hope I would be able to communicate smoothly with my fellow Japanese classmates, and professors. In addition, many of my classes will be taught in English, so this would be very good opportunity for me to improve my English skills both writing and speaking which will certainly be very useful in my future.
3/ To study Law in Japan
Last year, I explored that Law is very interesting, rich and useful through having taken the courses at my home university in France. I enjoyed every law lesson and I think I have learned a lot about the French Constitution and how the French law works. Nevertheless, I don’t know anything about foreign laws, I feel so eager to try and understand how Japanese law works ! I think it is part of my wish to discover a country so far and the difference from mine with customs and rules which have nothing to do with the French ones.
It will be an incredible chance for me to learn more about the law in Japan, and I would never have had this opportunity of studying if I didn’t choose to come to Kobe University for a year.
It has been 4 months already in Japan, and I think I could not be happier and satisfied to be here. I have met amazing people, discovered incredible places and improved my knowledge about Japanese culture and their way of live.
I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to come here, and I am especially thankful to Kobe University for the system of tutors they have which allowed me to meet my incredible Japanese tutor. Thank to her, I got familiarized with the ‘real’ Japanese culture and habits. She introduced me to her mother, and we drank tea all together. She also gives me, in addition to the courses I already have in the University, courses of Japanese every week, while I give her French lessons.
In University, I am studying comparative thoughts, EU-Japan comparative seminar, sociology and Japanese Legal system, plus Japanese lessons. Being studying with other international students from all over the world and with Japanese students really taught me a lot. Therefore I am really thankful for the chance I have to interact with people who think, act and had evolve so differently than me.
In Kobe, I also got the amazing opportunity to travel. Indeed, Kobe is close to a lot of very popular and interesting places such as Osaka, Nara, or Kyoto. I was amazed by the delicious food in Osaka, the surprisingly calm and affective deers of Nara, and the gorgeous gardens and museums of Kyoto. I hopefully will come back to those cities which amazed me even more than I expected. I also went to Himeji castle, and spent one week in Taipei, Taiwan. During spring break, I plan to travel to Hokkaido and Tokyo, but I am also looking for an internship or some voluntary work within an association.
In the university dormitory, I met a lot of friends, including some who are now leaving, but I hope I will have the opportunity to see them again. In Kobe, I enjoy the center of the city, Sannomiya, but also the amazing landscapes provided by the sight of the see and the mountains.
Japanese people are in almost every way different from French people. Their politeness, respect, kindness and attention to the others well being make me want to go back as soon as I can after the end of my exchange.
In the beginning, when I knew nothing about the country I just landed in, not mentioning the language barrier, I don’t know how I could have do without the help of Japanese people, who will always help you find your way if you get lost, with patience and sincere concern.
I could only recommend to any student from Europe who wants to study abroad to go to Japan. This country is the safest, richest and more welcoming country I have ever been to, and Kobe University is perfectly located, not mentioning that the courses and the student life here are particularly interesting and diverse.
As my year abroad is about to end, I am realizing how much I am going to miss Japan and what an amazing and fulfilling year it has been. I discovered a country so diﬀerent from mine culture wise and I had an incredible experience studying in Kobe University.
For the second semester, I chose new classes from which I learnt a lot. For instance, I registered in an intensive class about gender and feminist perspective in Japan and another about Gender studies. I am really interested in both those issues in France and it was really exciting to examine and analyse those issues from a Japanese perspective and see the diﬀerences of views in this country compared to mine regarding gender.
I also had a class about the European Union, and I enjoyed seeing how Japanese students perceived it and understood its aim from an Asian perspective.
Moreover, I was lucky enough to travel a lot lately. I spent a week in Vietnam, from Ho chi Minh to Da lat, and I was then invited to spend a week end in my tutor’s family, in Hiroshima. Though the memorial museum of Hiroshima deeply shocked me, it was a necessary and very instructive experience. Being in a typical Japanese family also allowed me to practice my Japanese skills, and familiarized me in a much more authentic manner to the Japanese way of lives.
I also had the chance to be visited by both my sister and my mother, and I was so glad to make them discover my home of this year Japan. Above, you can see a picture of me taken by my sister in a Japanese garden in Himeji. I have been in Himeji at least 3 times already, visiting the castle and around. I also went to Kyoto to have a look at the incredible golden temple, but also to Fushimi inari and its famous toriis, and I walked through the bamboo forest, a fabulous place filled by a very diﬀerent atmosphere than the traditional Japanese nature.
One of the most amazing moment of this semester has been without a doubt the sakura time. In France, we have some cherry blossoms but they are most of the time isolated and there is no place where you can find a whole area full of cherry blossom trees.
I first went to a garden full of sakura in Sumaura park, on the southwestern side of the Rokko mountain range. Though all of the trees had not flourished then, the view was absolutely stunning. Then, during main week of cherry blossoms, I went with some friends of Kobe University and the international residence to do a hanami in the park right next to Osaka castle, which is known to be a great spot to enjoy the cherry blossoms and the picnics. This moment was amazing, some of the petals were already falling and it made the scene even more delightful.
During winter break, I got the chance to go and visit Tokyo by myself, which allowed be to meet some amazing people, including a Japanese artist called Tsuguo Yanai, who invited me to a private exhibition and showed me his work, consisting on sculptures of celebrities in papier- mâché, which was such an engrossing experience. I also visited the famous neighborhoods of Akihabara, Asakusa and Shibuya, and I was particularly moved by the story of the dog Hachiko, who waited for his dead master in the station for years.
In Kobe University, I got the chance to do a couple of group works with Japanese students for my school projects, which was really compelling and allowed me to interact with locals in an academic perspective. I am so glad I got the opportunity to discuss, work and study with them and get to learn more about how Japanese student life is really like.
I know for sure that I am going to come back to Japan, as it has been one of the most overwhelming experience of my life, and I couldn’t be more thankful for this incredible journey.