I have been living in Fukushima for almost 4 months. Originally, I planned to only stay for 6 months. However, I fell in love with the city and decided to extend my stay for a whole year. In this little report, I'll show you why living in Fukushima is so much fun (and full of cute cats)!
Let's start with the most basic knowledge you'll probably want to know: everyday life at the university, financial information, and activities.
During the semester we can select between numerous classes. As for me, I chose the Japanese beginner course, sports class, and several courses which consist of Japanese and international students.
Let me start talking about the Japanese learning classes, especially the beginner course.
We have classes four times a week, and the course is incredibly helpful. Before coming to Japan, I started studying Japanese; however, I was barely able to communicate. Thanks to the amazing teacher I have conversations with natives about various topics. And that after only 4 months of classes in Japan! Another big advantage of taking her class is that learning was super much fun and one of the reasons why I extended my stay here.
Other super fun classes are the mixed classes with international and Japanese students! Not only are the classes practical and styled in cool projects, but you can easily interact with local students and go on field trips with the whole class. Besides, the teacher is incredibly nice and super helpful! His classes are very informative and interesting - and he teaches them in English.
When starting the semester you have a great variety of selecting sports classes such as softball, table tennis, and many others. If the classes themselves are not enough for you: the University also offers many circles. Soccer-, dance- and volleyball-club are only a few examples.
In comparison to most other international students, I do not major in Japanese. So I arrived with only a little knowledge of the language and culture. However, this did not stop the University of Fukushima to accept me as an exchange student. It is quite the opposite case, everybody at Fukushima University is incredibly helpful, patient, and kind. The second I arrived I felt very much welcomed and quickly like home.
Additionally, they provide several programs and activities to help you adjust more comfortably and quickly to your new life.
Every exchange student gets one buddy. A buddy is a Japanese student who is your contact partner for quite anything. As well, the University has one circle which consists of Japanese and international students who communicate in English and Japanese. This circle has already provided fun events for us international students in which everyone could participate.
Now talking about something important: money. How do you finance your stay here and are you allowed to work as a student? - Let me help you out!
First of all, there are several options for getting a scholarship. MEXT and JASSO are only a few examples. Additionally, you can ask your home University if they provide any scholarships.
Then with the student visa, you have the option of working in Japan. In the introductory event of the University, they explain how you can apply for work concerning your visa regulations and the exact limit of hours you are weekly allowed to work.
See, we're working here in Kimonos! The owners of the restaurant are extremely nice and I felt soon like we were all family. Not to mention the intense Japanese practice that we get from working here. We even got invited to participate in a real Japanese tea ceremony after New Year.
Now that we covered how to manage your finances during your stay, let's talk about the best things to spend it on!
My personal favorites are traveling, Karaoke, and a ton of food (especially sweets). Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto are most likely also on your bucket list since they're very famous and rich in culture. You can choose between various means of cheap transportation to these destinations or others. For example the Shinkansen and night bus.
I really enjoy taking weekend trips to the bigger cities! During Halloween, we went to Shibuya on the weekend and it was an unforgettable experience!
Nevertheless, also Fukushima has a ton of weekend activists to offer! With many delicious restaurants, cinemas, shopping halls, and Karaoke Bars you have everything you need just in reach!