Exchange program journal

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By: Katina Tam (Centennial College Student)

It was a pleasure for me to join the exchange program organized by Centennial College last year from April to August. It was a challenge for me since it was my first time to live in a foreign country for couples of months. I learned a lot not only in academic aspect but also in personal growth such as doing the chores and cooking by myself.

Joining this exchange program to study in Miyazaki International College (MIC) was a precious experience that what I gained is far more than I expected. 

Firstly, I met a lot of new friends in the college. Since I do not speak Japanese, the language barrier is one of the difficulties I was facing in Japan. I tried to express my ideas by using English together with gestures to communicate with schoolmates. They were kind and patient and tried to listen to my words. I felt embarrassed in the first week when I attended classes in MIC since the learning atmosphere and classmates were unfamiliar to me. A few weeks later, I began to adapt to the rundown of the courses and make some new friends. We hung out at weekends and tried some famous Japanese dishes.

Besides, the teaching style was different from that in Hong Kong. Professor focus more on interactive teaching rather than just gave out lectures. Activities and discussions were usually held, for example, I took the course Literary Genres, we explored various literary works in the lessons such as science fiction, poetry, and graphic novel. We were able to think deeper about the feeling of authors and the roles they were playing in the texts. We often shared our ideas with a small group. We were also able to be creative like creating our own zombie stories and writing letters to one of the characters in the texts.The workload in MIC was not heavy and the learning atmosphere made me feel relaxed.

One of the impressive activity was being invited to participate in Nobeka Seiun English Day on 20th July. We helped secondary school students with their English speaking. Three professors in MIC and two international students including me attended the English Day and each of us became the leader of a group to provide guidance for students to make presentations. The seminar was divided into six sessions. There was an ice-breaking activity in the first session which allowed each group leader to communicate and familiarize with the group members. We made a presentation about our country/city such as introducing food, sightseeing spots, and festivals. In the second and third sessions, group members had an opportunity to ask the group leader questions about what they like about Japan. Afterward, we taught them to make mind maps before a presentation and explained some important presentation skills to them. In the last session, each student was asked to make a presentation to the group and the leader gave some comments according to their performance. It was my pleasure to be invited to this event and I became more confident to communicate with others in English as the group leader.

After the exam week, my friends invited me to join them to go to the Recottia Matsuri which was one of the largest scales Traditional Summer Festivals. They suggested me to wear Yukata. The step of wearing Yukata was complicated. My friend lent me hers and came to my apartment to help me with it. We bought some drinks and snacks from the stalls and watched dancing performance in the Festival. There were parade and children wearing costumes dancing and singing traditional songs. The atmosphere was great. Apart from the Matsuri, we also went to the 69th Miyazaki Nagasaki fireworks display along Ohio River. It was my first time to watch fireworks display along the river.The fireworks spreading insight and the sound echo made me feel exciting. The most impressive part was the Niagara in the final session, the effect was like a waterfall with different colors, it was amazing.

It was absolutely a valuable experience for me to spend 4 months in Miyazaki. The exchange program allowed me to explore my talents and interests.It is a good chance to enhance my communication skills with others as I were too shy and easily became nervous.  Friendship is one of the greatest things I gained from this program, I established a close friendship with several students in MIC. We helped and supported each other in group presentations and studied together before exam week.I think going to exchange is a not-to-be-missed experience in our lifetime. Being an exchange student is not just about studying and having fun in another country, it is also about training yourself and learning from others.

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