I am currently in Japan, doing my exchange studies in a small town called Beppu. Beppu is known from its hot springs, Japanese Onsens. I have been here now for 3,5 months and was lucky to enter Japan in the most beautiful Spring season. During the Spring season cherry blossoms are blooming for two- or three weeks and it’s really beautiful everywhere.
Language barrier between the locals is huge, which makes everyday life a bit complicated sometimes. Local people doesn’t speak Englis very well. Of course everyone at APU, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, are able to speak English (at least in some level). There are big differences between the classes and the teaching.
I’m the only Finnish exchange student, so using English every day has improved my language skills. I also have Japanese classes every morning, so conversations with the locals are getting easier every day. My other courses are related to marketing, tourism business and culture and society of Asia Pacific. These courses have really opened my eyes about the local business culture, and also about the culture in and around Japan.
During my time off I’m enjoying this small city with friends I’ve made. We have already done some trips and some are sill ahead. At the beginning of the semester our university was closed for one week because of a strong earthquake. Beppu was not safe place to stay and after spending one night in an evacuation place, I decided to take most of the extra free time and booked a trip to Tokyo. During our quarter break last week we traveled to Okinawa which is located in the southern Japan. Okinawa has white sand beaches and warm climate all year round.
Japan is definitely not the easiest country to do an exchange. This has been the biggest challenge in my life even though this is not the first time for me to be overseas for a long time. Still, I can strongly recommend this as an option for a students, who are going to do an exchange. People are really friendly and always willing to help. Nature is amazing and the student house is located next to the sea, surrounded by mountains.