An insiders view: Meet Jente!

The M&M bachelor’s programme is filled with interesting and diverste students. Over the coming few weeks, several of them will share their experiences with the programme with you! Find out who the M&M students are and what studying M&M is really like. This week, Jente will share her experiences of spending her minor studying abroad in Japan!

Hi everyone! My name is Jente and I’m currently a third-year student of the BA Minorities & Multilingualism. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in the library of Osaka University, a university in Japan!

The road to Japan

I’ve always known that I wanted to do a minor abroad and was determined to do so during my bachelor’s. At the beginning of my second year, I started to prepare for the application deadline that was quickly approaching. It’s more work than I expected but I can already tell you it is more than worth it!

One of the things I found the most difficult was picking a university. There are so many interesting choices that all seem like a lot of fun. I eventually decided to go to Japan because I wanted to immerse myself in a completely different culture; learn the language, try out new foods, learn new customs. Japan seemed like the perfect fit because it checked all those boxes and, on top of that, I had some Japanese friends that I could see more often now!

Life in Japan

I’ve been here for almost three months now and am very, very happy with my decision. The first few weeks are a whirlwind of meeting new people, getting lost on campus, eating delicious food, trying to see as much of the city as possible,  and on it goes! The good thing about studying in Osaka is that you live in a dorm together with other exchange students. Because of this, it’s easy to make new friends fast.

It’s also very interesting to live together with so many nationalities and have discussions on all sorts of topics! I love spending time with my international friends but it’s also great to hang out with my Japanese friends. Some of my favorite moments here have been with them. I definitely encourage everyone to try and befriend some local people because they will help you experience Japan in a way that is impossible to do so on your own!

Another thing that I have been enjoying a lot is traveling. I have lots of possibilities to travel around Japan because the public transport system is quite nice. However, I definitely recommend renting a car and going on a road trip if you can! Osaka is also the home of one of the biggest Japanese international airports, which means that you can travel to other Asian countries for a friendly price. For instance, South-Korea, China, Taiwan, and the Philippines are all super accessible!

Besides traveling, there is another thing I never get tired of which is the food! Even though sushi will always be one of my favorite foods, Japanese cuisine is so much more than just that. It is amazing to try out all the amazing dishes in small restaurants and have a chat with the employees who tell you stories about the history of the food. Speaking of chats, I would recommend taking Japanese classes because not everyone speaks English very well. However, you’ll be able to get by with just English just fine.

University in Japan

I am a student at Osaka University, more specifically a student of the short term exchange program (OUSSEP). All the courses available to me are given in English but I also have the possibility to follow Japanese classes which I definitely recommend! Most courses are designed specifically for OUSSEP but others are part of an actual bachelor program. This means you have both international and Japanese students in your class which results in a lot of different viewpoints during discussions.

Frankly, the courses I am currently taking are, at times, quite random and do not necessarily fit M&M perfectly. There are a few that are an extension of my M&M courses but put in a Japanese context. However, other courses deal with completely new topics. The courses differ in difficulty, but most courses are doable! The fact that it doesn’t always make perfect sense for me to be doing these courses doesn’t bother me that much. I wanted to go abroad for the experience, immersing myself in a new culture and discover how well I deal with being on the other side of the world on my own.

Final thoughts

I think this small article makes it abundantly clear that I am very happy with my decision to spend a semester in Japan. In just three months, I have met a lot of interesting people and made some great friends. I have also fallen completely in love with Japan and am certain it will always have a special place in my heart. Being here has also given me new motivation for my studies back in the Netherlands!