College of Arts and Sciences/University of Auckland (New Zealand)/2015/The reason was very simple for me. I wanted to improve my English and have an exchange experience as soon as possible (I could start my exchange as a sophomore only in the Oceania reg
What made you decide to study abroad or participate in the program?
The reason was very simple for me. I wanted to improve my English and have an exchange experience as soon as possible (I could start my exchange as a sophomore only in the Oceania region at that time). Also, my brother has visited New Zealand before and told me the appeal of New Zealand, leading me to choose New Zealand as the place for my exchange.
Tell us about the best experience you had during the program.
I took several courses from the Faculty of Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland (UoA). More than 90% of the classmates were Pacific Islanders (ex. Samoan, Tongan and Cook Islander etc.) and they warmly welcomed me. In addition to daily interaction such as teaching dances of our country to each other, I also joined their committee to hold an anniversary party for the faculty. Daily talk in the kitchen at the dormitory was also one of the most precious times for me.
Tell us about the hardest part of your experience abroad.
I really enjoyed immersing myself in life there, so did not really have any hardship. The exam period was stressful because I was not used to writing an essay in English, but I could play it out by sharing my concerns with friends in the dormitory.
What types of classes did you take?
I tried taking unique courses at UoA, ranging from Pacific Studies, New Zealand Politics to Māori education system and the Antarctica. It was a big surprise for me to know that there are Māori-medium schools (schools where you can learn in Māori language) from kindergarten to university.
What were you involved in outside of class? (clubs, volunteering, internship, etc.)
I joined three communities: field hockey club, international outing club (AUISN) and Pacific Islanders Student Association. In each community I could interact with different kinds of people. All the members but me in field hockey club were local New Zealanders. But the atmosphere was very accommodating and different from club activities in Japan. I went to practice once a week and had a weekly match. Even though I have never played hockey and also could not catch up with their local conversation at first, they talked to me very kindly and made me feel accepted.
I met many Asian international students in AUISN. When I could not make friends with the people in the dormitory for the first few months, the club offered me a place to fit in.
How do you want to make use of your experience overseas?
After the exchange, there were two major changes in myself. Firstly, I really felt like doing the same as AUISN, creating a place to feel at home for international and exchange students. I worked as a tutor at GO after coming back, making friends with many international and exchange students and offering them help. In addition I did a class visitation in some Japanese courses. I also began teaching Japanese in a language school.
Secondly, it might sound strange, but the experience in New Zealand inspired me to learn Chinese. I made friends with many Chinese during the exchange. Since most of them are from the southern part of China, I got to know differences in the Greater China. I went to Beijing after exchange and learned Chinese for two months. I plan to go to Taiwan and learn Chinese again.
If you give one piece of advice to students looking into educational opportunities abroad, what would it be?
Follow your curiosity and have fun! Learn both inside and outside school!