Recently I’ve been thinking about my life in Japan a lot and in this post I will be talking about my experiences at Fukuoka university as an exchange student. When I was doing my research about the university I could not find any information in English and at that time my Japanese wasn’t the best so I had no idea what to expect from my exchange program. I also think that’s what inspired me to make this post.
It’s already been 2 years since my year abroad but I still think about it every day. I have already graduated university but at that time I was a Newcastle university student and Year Abroad was a part of my four-year course. While most of my classmates went to places like Tokyo and Kyoto I decided to do something different and spend my Year Abroad in Fukuoka, Japan. I decided to study and improve my language skills at Fukuoka university 福岡大学. I like to challenge myself so I went there all by myself. Moving to Japan alone was one of the most stressful experiences I’ve ever had but it turned out to be one of the best years of my life.
My studies started in early September 2018 and ended at the end of August 2019. I lived in an international dormitory (国際交流会館) which consisted of 70% Japanese students and 30% exchange students. I had a lot of opportunities to practice my Japanese, communicating with Japanese people and make friends. I studied Japanese for 2 years before I went to Japan but I feel like my Japanese improved so much more on my year abroad. Most of accommodations in Japan are usually far away from universities, so students have to take trains or buses every day but my dormitory was only 10 minutes walk away from the university. The dormitory hosted events like welcome party, sports day, movie nights and trips. It was so fun to be living with so many people in one big house, I never felt alone and there was always something happening.
Most of the classes I took in Fukuoka university were Japanese language classes (grammar, kanji, speaking, writing, reading, listening) and they were all taught in Japanese. The only English class I had was traditional tea ceremony class where studied the history behind Japanese tea and also attended a few tea ceremonies. Each class is 90 minutes long and I would usually have 3-4 classes a day. We also had multiple tests a week so we would have to study every single day after classes. Since most of the classes were in Japanese and my teachers did not speak much English, it gave me an opportunity to use and practice my Japanese all the time, even though in the beginning it was difficult to understand some subjects but it did not take much time to get used to using Japanese every day. Everybody in the university would have their lunch break at the same time (12:10pm-1pm). My favourite place for lunch was university’s cafeteria because they always had a big selection of traditional Japanese meals like ramen, udon, soba, Japanese curry, onigiri, sea food dishes and it would only cost me around ¥250-400. Food was always fresh, delicious and cheap.
Fukuoka university has a lot of society and sport clubs that any student can join. I decided to join the dance society and it was one of my favourite parts about the university. Even though we would have to practice 3 times a week for 3 hours and a full day on Sundays, it was fun and I made lots of friends that I still talk to now. Since there were only Japanese students in the society, I would have to talk to everyone in Japanese all the time and that is what helped me to improve my Japanese the most. The society would host events like trips to cities around Fukuoka, karaoke nights and sport days.
Even though the university is in the countryside, there are lots of restaurants, bars, shops, parks, and hiking paths around the university. I was never bored, there was always something to do. The city centre of Fukuoka is easily accessible by subway, it only takes 16 minutes from the university’s station. We would go there quite often because it was so close.
I would definitely recommend choosing Fukuoka university for a full Japanese university experience. I might post more blog posts about my life in Japan soon. If you have any ideas or requests, just let me know!
I hope you enjoyed this post and thank you for reading!