“Studying abroad does not only sharpen one’s language skills, but also makes one grow as person”

Studying abroad brings out the best in myself

Ryo Sugimura
Student at School of Culture, Media & Society

Trekking at Tongariro National Park, one of World Heritage Sites

Two years ago from February 2016 to January 2017, I went on student exchange program to Auckland in New Zealand. I chose to go to New Zealand because firstly, it is a safe country and secondly, I wanted to go to a country that is culturally different from my own.

I started considering going on student exchange program after making a backpack trip around the world when I was a freshman at Waseda. Asia, Europe, Africa … I met so many people of different backgrounds during my trip. When I was travelling, I realized the importance of speaking English. I felt that if I knew English, I could communicate and make friends with a lot of people around the world. As such, I started working really hard on learning English after coming back from the trip, and decided to submit my application to study at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand at the end of my third-year at Waseda.

When I was at Auckland University of Technology, I mainly took classes related to language pedagogy. Unlike in Japan, many of the classes at Auckland University of Technology were conducted in small class size, usually a class size of 15 students to a professor. In addition, rather than one-way passive learning, students are required to actively raise their opinions and participate in group discussions in class. The classes I took related to language pedagogy also tended to be practical in nature and required a lot of preparation beforehand.

(left) Mountain climbing with friends I met at Auckland
(right) Rafting in nature

Filming location of Lord of the Rings

Outside class, I visited a lot of places in New Zealand with the friends I made there. The country is filled with beautiful nature and it is also the place which the famous Lord of the Rings movies were filmed in. It just felt so amazing visiting these places in real life.

Spending a year studying abroad has made me feel more confident in conversing in English. I was also able to meet people of different background thanks to the exchange program. Comparing to the past, I am now a better listener and is also better at voicing my opinions. Studying abroad does not only sharpens one’s language skills, but also makes one grow as person.

Things that surprised me when I was in New Zealand

Auckland is city of diversity with its people originating from Asia, Middle East, Europe, etc. As such, you can find specialized supermarket packed with ingredients for making Chinese cuisines, and also Halal restaurants for people with restricted diet. There are all sorts of shops and restaurants. What surprised me the most was that there were many Japanese restaurants and shops, such as DAISO. As a Japanese, Auckland is a city very comfortable for me to live in.

(left) All items at 3 for NZ$10 (about 750 Japanese yen) at DIASO
(right) You can find all sorts of Japanese seasonings on the shelves

About New Zealand

Auckland, the largest city of New Zealand, is also known as the City of Sails. It got this name from the enormous number of boats that can be seen in the city. The city is also well-known for having 48 dead volcanoes and unique mountain landscape. It has a temperate climate but weathers during summer and winter are not as harsh as Japan’s. As weather can be quite uncertain, sometimes it feels like you are experiencing four different seasons in a day. It takes about 11 hours to go to Auckland from Japan by direct flight.

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