I got an interview with an exchange student who is attending Waseda University for a year. Her name is Juliane Treis and comes from Germany. Her home university there is Trier University where she majors in History and Japanese Studies. She attends Waseda University in the School of International Liberal Studies (SILS) and is having a good time.

In SILS she is studying Intellectual History, Japanese Classical Poetry, Japanese and German Studies, which I found a bit peculiar but she said it was quite good since the teacher is German. Simply goes to show the diversity of Waseda University. When I asked her what she thought of the Japanese language studies she said: “I think it depends on the level. When you are at level 2 or 3 it’s not so amazing, I think, but when you get to level 6 on it’s quite cool”. She mentioned that her roommate is in level 7 and is doing very cool things. In Waseda Uni. there are 9 levels of Japanese language studies, from 0 through 8.

Juliane also mentioned a different program exchange students are like to take named Bekka. In it students study only the Japanese language and nothing else. Juliane feels that international students should rather go for SILS as Bekka doesn’t offer the diversity. If people want to learn Japanese only they should rather just do work and travel.

When I asked Juliane about how it is to be an international student in Japan, if she felt she got into trouble as a foreigner, she said that it wasn’t really pressing especially because she is a westerner. She says that the Japanese treat westerners with a different kind of respect since they don’t immediately assume that western people, or rather people of non-Asian origin, speak Japanese, whereas they do put that pressure on people who look Asian. She commented also on the Japanese phenomenon of not saying anything when one does something wrong; is the Japanese person getting annoyed because one does something wrong or just because one might have blue eyes? It’s hard to tell sometimes. I asked Juliane if getting educated in the culture helped when she got here and she said that it doesn’t really matter how much you read, there will always be situations where what you read doesn’t help. So I asked her if having a video guide, seeing someone go through the various social blunders and seeing then the correction, would help and she said that that would be good thing.

The interview faded into small talk after that and I got what I wished for, an interview with an international student and a positive feedback on making videos. Hope to post more soon

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First episode of how not to be a FOB, a fresh of the boat, person. The Wiseman will take you through valuable experiences to ensure a smooth landing in Japan

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Let’s take a look at what the Wiseman has to explore in the second episode of Guide to Japan