Mary Ann Khamdy
Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, Japan
I have always been fascinated by learning about the different cultures around the globe. Japan captures many unique aspects culturally and is often marked as a non-Western country. Many people around the world seem to be interested in Japan whether it is financially, culturally or linguistically. It is easy to make friends with Japanese people and other people from around the world in Japan. At Nagoya University, you can take courses along with Japanese students or other foreign students like yourself. If you are ready for culture shock and would like to be culturally shocked often, Japan is your paradise of doing and seeing things in another perspective. Studying in Japan has gotten me hooked to being abroad. I would love for any chance to study or work abroad again, because it makes any life story worth telling.
The Nagoya University of Foreign Studies (NUFS) is located in the city of Nisshin, which is part of the Nagoya metro area. Nisshin is part of a battlefield of the war that unified Japan. It is small enough for you to explore the town by yourself. You can start with a nearby castle that has been restored by the Nisshin community. You would find many temples around the castle area. There are many restaurants around the area from Italian food to Sushi. I have to warn you that you will find the Japanese version of most of the Western food you eat.
Nisshin is expanding at a rapid rate with franchises like Starbucks and McDonalds popping up alongside new Japanese ‘mom and pop’ businesses. The grocery store is just across the street from the accommodations and is connected to a home center. It is the closest thing to a Wal-Mart experience in Japan. There is also a nearby Karaoke bar that you should visit to truly venture into the Japanese culture. If you love to go out, Nagoya’s hot spots are about 30-45 minutes away by bus and subway. You can just buy an all day pass for unlimited rides on the bus and subway for a reasonable price. The common and cheap way to travel is by bicycle.
The university itself sits on top of a hill and is nestled close to two other universities. It is hard to distinguish where each campus starts and stops, but the NUFS campus is certainly the most bustling. You will be impressed with the student center called Communication Plaza where you can make many friends, do your homework or do any research for a project. The Communication Plaza is also where you will find many other international students mingling with each other or making Japanese friends.
The Office for International Students is located on the third floor and the staff is always helpful. It would be easier for you to have a basic level of Japanese to communicate with the staff members, but there are English-speakers in the office. There are many eateries around campus, as well as a small gym, a multi-sport field for soccer, touch football and lacrosse. There is also an indoor basketball court on campus and a tennis court next to the International House. You can join many student associations at NUFS, also known as circles. Even though you may not speak Japanese fluently, you can always find a decent English-speaker who is more than happy to answer any questions for you or help you with your Japanese at NUFS.
As a UNCG student studying at NUFS, you have a choice between a dormitory called “International House” or an apartment called “Proxy Friends.” I lived in the “International House” and I found it very easy to get help and to make friends, because it is very communal. There is an indoor courtyard separated by glass walls. All of the rooms have spacious shelving, a small closet, a mini-fridge, private bathrooms, a phone, beds and student desks. Students share a kitchen and wireless Internet.
There is a caretaker at the front of the “International House” 24 hours a day as well as three resident assistants who are Japanese students at NUFS who are available to assist you. The dorm is only a 5-minute walk away from the university. For those students who do not have a laptop, there are computers available with Internet access in the lounge room. The university staff normally has you meet in front of “International House” for any fieldtrips.
“Proxy Friends” has a more private atmosphere: you can have guests at any time and there is no curfew. The university does not own this property but sets a contract to have a number of rooms available for international students. Unlike the “International House,” utilities are not included in the rent. You do have your own private kitchen and bathroom, a microwave, TV and a student desk. There are normally two resident assistants to help you with questions. You can get Internet service for a basic fee equivalent to the US. You can also use the computers in “International House” during visiting hours. “Proxy Friends” is a 5-minute bike ride or a 15-minute walk to NUFS.
The level of difficulty of classes varies and depends mostly on which program you wish to enroll in. NUFS offers a Japanese culture program and a Japanese language program. The culture program offers courses throughout the day. These culture classes meet once a week and are usually taught in English. You can take these classes alongside Japanese students. There is a “survival” Japanese language course taught twice a week if you want to improve your Japanese. This class allows you to interact and practice your Japanese with actual Japanese students.
The Japanese language program is taught completely in Japanese. Courses meet from 9am to 12pm, Monday through Friday. Some students take available culture classes in the afternoon. All of the Japanese language teachers were very personal with every student and they often work together to improve Japanese skills. If you complete the minimum number of hours and classes for either of the program at the end of the year, you receive a certificate of completion for the program. You can switch between the programs only at the beginning of the semester.
For two of my classes I also completed an internship at the Nagoya Kanko Hotel. There are various internships you can choose from at NUFS, but you have to arrange for your own transportation to these internships. There are a few internships available for those who do not speak Japanese fluently, like the Nagoya Kanko Hotel or teaching English at schools. There are different types of internships you can choose from, such as working in international firms, health areas or government agencies. If you find your own place of interest to intern at, the school will help coordinate the internship. Usually, you have to attend a minimum of 10 working days (it’s difficult to do an internship for a whole semester) and write a paper about your experience. Only students enrolled in the culture program are allowed to do internships for credit, but students in the language program can still volunteer to teach English throughout the semester.
Traveling within Japan is easy from Nagoya because it is in the central region. This makes it cheap to go any major city in Japan as well. While I was in Japan, I also traveled to Taiwan and Hong Kong for pretty good prices. The best way to find bargains for travel to other Asian countries is comparing prices between travel agencies. Japan has a phenomenal travel industry for you to take advantage of. My schoolmates also visited Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea. You can also simply discover Japan and its many different regions or immerse yourself in other Asian cultures.
Tips for Future Students