Konnichiwa! He guys, I survived the typhoon here in Kyoto, Japan. There were massive rainfalls and unfortunately some have died because of the hazard. I was very lucky that the typhoon passed by Kyoto and everyone is safe here. Hopefully, the coming days life will get back to normal again in Japan.

I’m Nina and I am currently doing my minor in Japan. I study at Kyoto University for one semester here. Life is suuuper different, especially when you can’t read a thing. Supermarket trips take hours. Luckily, I’m learning some Japanese in Uni so I can read and say a few things. However, the language is really different from what we are used to. First of all, there are four alphabets that they use. The characters consists of sounds which you have to learn to read. After you can do that, you are still not able to understand the words. So, it’s a slow process. Further, Japan is a monoculture, so people really see that you are an outsider in the community. You will always be seen as a tourist, which can be quite annoying sometimes. Nevertheless, it can also be very convenient to pull the foreigner card when you did something wrong. Just act like you didn’t know what you did wrong!

School-life is pretty different as well. Sleeping in class in front of your teacher is completely normal, at least forthe Japanese students. The Japanese students here have to take a minimum of two English courses, which makes it a good mix of Japanese and internationals in class. The internationals are from all over the world and are all very open to meet new people, since we are all in the same situation. A good place to get to know each other in school is during lunch time. The school cafeterias are so crowded that a huge line will form outside; enough time to chat! When you finally get your ramen, you have to rush to your class again.

After school and on weekends there is enough time to explore the city. Kyoto is a very widespread city and has many sightseeing spots; a lot of temples and shrines. The city used to be the capital of the country and therefore it has a lot of interesting historical sights. It is very easy to see all these spots since Kyoto is a very bikeable city. However, my favorite thing to do here is to just eat thing such as: takoyaki (dough balls with octopus), ramen noodles, sushi, okonomiyaki (Japanese egg pancake) and many more things. I’ve only been here for two weeks but I’m already loving it and am looking forward to see more of the city and eat more good food.

Interested in doing a minor in Japan? Find out more HERE.

Written by: Nina Maaswinkel