Nagoya University (NUPACE) Spring 2009
Valerie Wilkinson '10
My experience at Nagoya was definitely positive overall. The NUPACE staff was very helpful and took care to help exchange students transition to living in Nagoya and doing the necessary paperwork to live in Japan for the semester/year. I think they have done a good job of building a support system for international students. Also, because I went for the spring semester, which is the beginning of the year in Japan, there was extra support from campus organizations/clubs that helped international students with various things (i.e. buying a cell phone, finding the grocery store, or joining a club).
The Japanese Language classes at Nagoya were excellent. I felt like the teachers and class work were very effective in helping my Japanese improve. One of the main reasons I wanted to study abroad in Japan was to continue studying Japanese, so I chose the intensive course, which was 3 hours per day (as opposed to standard course which was 1.5 hours per day). For anyone really wanting to study Japanese I highly recommend taking the intensive course if possible. Classes for international students offered in English varied in difficulty, but many were not academically challenging. However, I chose classes about topics I was interested in and I did learn quite a bit about those topics (Japanese Politics, Japanese Education and Spanish).
Nagoya is a great city to call home in Japan, and it is easy to find things to do and see. Also, the location is very good for traveling if you are interested in visiting other major cities. The fastest trains can get you to Tokyo in 2 hours, or Osaka or Kyoto in about 45-50 minutes. If you want to save money, it is possible to take a bus to each of those places. I really enjoyed traveling within Japan, but I think my fondest memories of Japan are from living in Nagoya and experiencing it with the friends I made.
The dormitory I lived in (International Ohmeikan) provided me with a good opportunity to make friends with other international students and the Japanese students who lived there. Many international students were frustrated with the fact that their floors were often noisy and they didn’t feel entirely welcomed by their floor mates. In my case, the floor I lived on was usually pretty quiet and I loved the girls who lived there. By taking initiative to be friendly, go to floor meetings, and hang out in the common space I was able to get to know a few of them pretty well.
I think there are challenges that come with studying abroad anywhere, and I definitely found some things challenging during my time studying in Japan. However, I think that Nagoya University has an excellent program, and out of the programs St. Olaf offers it was definitely the right choice for me.