After a busy few weeks full of presentations, papers, and final exams; it is the end of my first term here at NUCB.
The class structure is very different then what I am used to at the U of A but it seems to be the norm here for the Japanese students. The classes here are quite intensive since each class is taught in 3 hour periods and the term only lasts 7 weeks. The great thing about having two terms in one semester is the variety that comes along with it. It allows me to learn about 8-10 different subjects in 4 months which keeps things interesting.
I would not say that the language barrier is lessening but it is definitely becoming a little less frightening than when I arrived two months ago. Now that I know Hiragana and how to count it does make conversing with a sales clerk more comfortable. In studying Hiragana, I appreciate the complexity of the Japanese language more and I am beginning to understand why the English language can be very difficult for Japanese people to grasp (and vise versa). When I arrived, all I saw when I looked at Japanese writing were lines, shapes, and pictures; now, I can identify particular words or sounds rather than looking at a seemingly foreign code.
The weather finally changed from a humid heat wave to a very comfortable fall which I am sure myself and many of the other international students can agree is relieving. Besides the temperature, I think I am adapting well to life in Japan and while I expected this exchange to be somewhat uncomfortable for me and full of difficult challenges, I am becoming very comfortable here. Nagoya, and Japan in general, feels very safe and welcoming.
The hospitality demonstrated by Japanese people never ceases to amaze me. For example, the other day I ordered food from a fast food place on my way to school. I ordered a drink with no ice. I left the restaurant and realized there was ice in my drink, but it really wasn’t that important so I continued to walk to my bus stop and wait in line. Around 30 seconds later, while talking with my friends and eating my meal, one of the restaurant staff tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a new drink with no ice and apologized for the mistake. The fact that this employee went out of her way to make me a new drink and leave the restaurant to come find me and give it to me was so above and beyond the service I expected that all I could do was laugh and say thank you. The hospitality of this woman truly made my day to say the least.
One thing I must mention is how motivating the NUCB campus is. Yuichi Kurimoto, the founder of NUCB, was the first international student to graduate from the U of A with a bachelor’s degree in the 1920’s and when he returned to Japan he built Nagoya University of Commerce and Business. Kurimoto had very large dreams and this is apparent throughout the campus. As you walk between classes there are signs everywhere telling the students to “aim higher” or “become world leaders“. The campus really seems to encourage its students to focus on the global aspects of business. I personally feel a sense of pride while walking around the campus, particularly when seeing the NUCB flag in the morning. It is a reminder that I am participating in a program that is worthwhile and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to attend this school with the support of the University of Alberta. With this, I feel incredibly privileged to be studying abroad, especially at a University with such a connection to my own.
Tomorrow, I have been given the incredible opportunity to dine with the son of Yuichi Kurimoto and current President of NUCB, Hiroshi Kurimoto. I am truly looking forward to speaking with him and hearing all about NUCB and not only its relationship and history with the U of A but its plans for the future.
When sitting down to reflect on my experience in Nagoya thus far, all I can think is how lucky I am to be here and to explore this incredibly interesting country. It is hard to believe that my time in Japan is half over, but the plus side is that I still have another 8 weeks of adventures!
Check out more information on Yuichi Kurimoto and the University of Alberta here.