Oliver is a doctor from Germany and recently joined the Japanese language program for adults [M30+] at Asahi Nihongo
Oliver did a language course at Asahi Nihongo with home stay over a period of 4 weeks. The interview showed us that mature students have entirely different expectations of a study program in Japan. Learning about the Japanese culture and traditions is much more important than having parties every day. The interview was a lot of fun with much laughter and great memories about the time here in Fukuoka.
What brought you to Fukuoka?
It has been my dream to travel around the world on a container ship. So I took an extended vacation to be like Captain James Cook, a navigator and explorer who discovered New Zealand and the Great Barrier Reef of Australia in 1770 aboard his shipーthe HMB Endeavour.
Why did you choose Fukuoka during this time?
I chose Fukuoka mainly because of the city layout. Everything is very compact and commuting times are shorter than in cities like Tokyo. Fukuoka is also not as overcrowded with tourists. This gives you more time to focus on studying Japanese and enjoying the city. The location of Asahi is another advantage. You are right in the city-center and can access all places very easily. I came at the beginning of April in order to experience Hanami, which I had only seen in Korea before. The weather in April is just perfect for a trip.
What about studying the Japanese language?
First of all, I think 4 weeks are enough for a total beginner. There is so much new knowledge you have to take in and need to reflect on. The course was a great help and I will use these skills on my journey to Tokyo.
Personally, I find it very hard to remember Japanese vocabulary because I cannot find many connections to my own language or mental aids that would help me. So grammar exercises are rather difficult at the moment and take a lot of time. Luckily, my teacher is very patient and knows how to help with my struggles.
Did you learn anything you did not expect?
Japanese people are so friendly! When it comes to studying, I really like the small class sizes at the school. Students learn better in smaller numbers. I am the only student in my class and it is amazing. The teachers are very open-minded and approachable. At school, you really feel like a family with the teachers and the other students. The speaking-oriented lesson style makes learning a lot more interesting. You are using Japanese from the start and get familiar with the language very fast.
Fukuoka is beautiful, clean and save. You can find a lot of small shops, bars and restaurants near the school, which is most exciting.
Is there anything you did not like?
Though my impressions are almost all very positive, I find the lack of trash cans very frustrating. You always have to carry your garbage around until you pass by a convenience store or get home.
What advice would you give other students?
Things are easier in Japan than you might think. Before going to Japan, you hear and read many articles about how strange and how difficult things in Japan are. However, it is so easy to withdraw money or pay via credit card at a 7/11 Bank for exsample. No problem at all. I would advice every body to have a pocket wifi with you. You can search for words or information during you scrool around the city and you have everywhere internet, which helps sometime to find certain information.
What is your favorite Japanese word?
My favorite Japanese word is: KUDASAI. The meaning of “kudasai” (下さい) is similar to “please”. You can use it to ask for a specific thing (“One coffee, please” 「コーヒー1つを下さい」), or to ask someone to do something (“Please come in” 「入って下さい」). The original meaning of the verb “kudasaru” (下さる) is “to give” or “to receive”. It also helps me remember the way to the subway because you use the same Kanji (地下鉄). 🙂
Thank you very much for your time and enjoy your trip!