Message from Students Vol.5

Sieger Veenstra

Graduate school of arts, International Relations and International Organisations. University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Due to a chance meeting I got inspired to learn Japanese a long time ago. Not so long ago, and in a whim, I decided to attend an information session for studying abroad and look where that spontaneity got me. For half a year I studied abroad in Osaka.

 To start with Osaka. Osaka itself is a really nice city, but one can take the train to Kyoto, to Nara, to Kobe, to Himeji, you name it. Since the airport is easy to reach as well, just buy a plane-ticket and go to Okinawa, to Tokyo or to Hokkaido. The fact that you live in a huge city with many interesting people is a must-experience matter.

 At the university of Osaka, I followed the OUSSEP program (Osaka University Short-term Student Exchange Program) which basically entails that you can choose from a variety of, English-taught, subjects together with other international and Japanese students. That combination, of internationally oriented Japanese students and international students in an education-setting works quite well. I took subjects that are indirectly related to my major at that time, human geography and planning, but also subjects wherein I am interested and which sounded interesting.

 To me, the most important thing in this period abroad was meeting people. I lived in a dormitory (Tsukumodai International dormitory) and I still have a lot of contact with the people I once lived with under one roof. You tend to get really close to them.

 The experiences, the people, the food, the language and the whole country of Japan is something that one can cherish. I cannot emphasize enough how important studying for a period abroad is. It is not only to live independent from your parents, your peers and classmates for a while. But also, it usually makes you reset some boundaries, and push yourself outside of your comfort zone. That experience alone is valuable for life.