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The Wonderful Experience with Nice Friends

Name: Kiyo Izumi
English Education Course (Undergraduate)
Study Abroad Period: August 2022 - July 2023
Host University: Zuyd University, The Netherlands

1. Description of the university

Zuyd University of Applied Science is not the ordinary "university" like the other universities you know. Smaller size of school, practice oriented, no club activities, students are aged 17 to 30- quite different from other universities. These points make the school diverse and that was a good experience for me.

Maastricht, which is the city where Zuyd University is located, has a long history as a town under the borders, and it is beautiful, peaceful and tranquil. Maastricht is not a big city with lots of entertainment, but if you cycle around the city you will find many nice places to visit.

2. Studying at the university

KI_photo2.jpgZuyd University offers three courses, and your classes follow each course curriculum. Oriental Languages and Communication (OTC), which I took, offers classes mainly about communication and intercultural communication. Dutch students who take the Japanese course also take these classes, so I made friends in those classes. Students have tests and group work assignments each block (a year is divided into 4 blocks). Group work is the most important assignment so I tried to have good communication with other members.

European Studies is the course mainly about politics in Europe. The majority of the students from EU countries study in this course. Students take classes and submit group assignments. International Business students mainly work on group assignments for each block and they come to the classes only once a week. The group assignments are practical, such as interviewing a restaurant owner and planning the next promotions together. It requires high English skill and motivation to take the initiative in learning.

3. Life at the university
Due to the high cost of living, I basically cooked for myself in the dormitory. I bought Japanese seasonings and other ingredients at Asian supermarkets and cooked with what I could find at the local supermarkets.

The kitchens in the dormitories are shared, so I had the opportunity to talk with students from other countries while I was cooking. I actually got into a lively conversation with a French student in the kitchen about what we were cooking, and we ended up teaching each other our national dishes later on, which was a great experience. Dormitory life is different from Japan in many ways, and it can be stressful at first, but I think it is a good opportunity to get to know each other.

4. What I learned from my experience

I was able to have good communication with local students in the Japanese language course and make friends with them so well that we continued to communicate even after coming back to Japan.

Basically, we communicated in English, but some of the students were quite good in Japanese, and we often had conversations in Japanese. When I had to make a phone call to customer service in Dutch, I asked them to make the call for me and they explained in Japanese, which helped me a lot. Dutch students in the Japanese course spoke to me a lot at school, but in the beginning it was difficult to communicate in English, and I sometimes wanted to run away. Gradually, we were able to build a relationship as friends, for example by finding common hobbies. Those students who became good friends came to Japan on an exchange program, so we have been able to continue our relationship, such as going on trips together after returning to Japan.

Thanks to my wonderful friends, I was able to have a meaningful study abroad experience.

KI_photo4.jpg5. Advice for those who considering studying abroad

In the Netherlands, it is very important to do what you want to do. I strongly felt that I should be honest with myself and think about what I would do if I tried and failed rather than regretting not doing it. There may be many obstacles when thinking about studying abroad, but there are always people who help you with any obstacle. I hope you will make a choice you have no regrets about.

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