I am working as an internship student at Hokkaido University in Sapporo. So far my journey has been amazing. Luckily I still have some time to have adventures and experience wonderful things. When I arrived I didn’t have much knowledge about Japan. I just knew sushi and Studio Ghibli. But now I know so much more. I know more about the culture and the people and their weird habits.
I am working in a laboratory doing some research about forestry in Japan. I also attended two courses just for fun. Sounds probably weird that I took two courses when I don’t get any credit for them but I wanted the full experience of university life in Japan. Now I know what kind of education system they have here. It differs from the Finnish education system a lot. Here they do a lot more research independently in the lab than in Finland.
I have been doing other things also, not just sat in the lab and lectures. I’ve eaten amazing food and also not so amazing food. My favorites are salmon sushi, okonomiyaki, yakitori, and ramen. The not so great food for me is the seafood. Especially raw seafood. I tasted some sushi with octopus and squid and they were not so good. We barbecued some scallops on a field trip. Definitely not for me. I missed sausage at that moment very much.
Okonomiyaki Ramen at University café
At first, it was very difficult to get along since I don’t speak Japanese. But luckily there are translators on smartphones. And when shopping I know that the cashiers always ask for some bonus cards and if I pay with cash. So actually it is quite easy to get along. I just smile to people when I don’t understand them. The grocery shopping is quite difficult though. But I just buy what looks good even though I don’t always know what it is.
So far my best experiences have been meeting new people and as Disney fan the lion king musical and a trip to Tokyo Disneyland. I was so happy that I could just cry. The musical was amazing. I had glasses with subtitles so I could understand the dialogs. But like I said the best part is the people. I have met students, scouts (I am a scout myself) and people who work (yes I mean the guys in their suits). It is nice to meet all kinds of people in all ages and see that they all treat me the same way. They are so friendly and excited to meet a foreign person. I met one older lady scout who was an exchange student in Helsinki 40 years ago, she still knew some Finnish. I also met an older man who asked me where I am from and after I told him I am from Finland he started to hum Finlandia. I made friends with a Japanese woman the same age as me in a pub. It is such an amazing thing abroad that you can make new friends anywhere. And I feel that I can tell her everything even though we have known for a very short time. The worst part of making new friends abroad is that I know that my time is limited with them. It is sad to make new friends knowing that I won’t probably see them ever again. I know this because I have already experience from it from my earlier exchange period. Luckily I have made friends with one girl who I can again see back in Finland.
This experience has taught me so much about myself. Sounds a bit corny maybe. But I think I have really changed here. I hope that I will keep my new features when I go back to Finland. I have been braver and got more self-confidence. I have had adventures here that I would have probably refused before. So I would definitely recommend everybody to go for exchange or internship abroad, you can’t get these experiences at home.
Here are some photos from my journey
Kisses from a walrus and greetings from Japan!