There is not a moment that I don’t think fondly of the time I spent at Akita International University (AIU). I originally went to AIU to strengthen my Japanese language skills, but the experience became so much more. The Japanese students and international students always stood beside one another and helped lift everyone to their greatest potential.
My first roommate was a Japanese student from Osaka. He offered insight into aspects of Japanese culture that aren’t discussed in the classroom and always invited me to events with his friends. Even simple, casual conversations with him helped my Japanese language skills.
Affordable travel allowed me to spend approximately one week in Tokyo during Christmas. Initially, I was a little scared to wander around Tokyo’s most popular areas, but after finding my confidence in both my independence and my Japanese-language ability, navigating was rather easy.
Some of my most valuable experiences came from volunteering at elementary schools in Akita. Because Akita is a rural area, traffic from international travel is low. However, the children at the schools knew a surprising amount about American culture and English. It ignited my passion for helping others, and that will remain with me forever.
Overall, my time in Akita was indescribably magical. Everything I learned about Japan at William & Mary came to life. It was unique to both my scholastic and life experience, so every day felt like an adventure. The friends and experiences I gained during the era will stick with me forever. To those who provided me with this opportunity: I extend my gratitude. I can’t thank them enough.