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I'm studying in the Discovery Program. Its been great - the staff are so nice. They always take us to interesting places and are very friendly. They also make room in the schedule for side trips and spend a lot of extra time with us. We often went to places which were completely inaccessible by public transport, so we saw a lot of things that most visitors don't get to see.
What were some of the reasons why you chose this program?
Because I wanted to visit a lot of places in Japan but I also wanted to study Japanese as well.
What were you doing before you came to Yamasa?
I was studying Management Information Systems at Concordia University in Montreal in Canada. I have two more years to go before I graduate.
Did you start as a beginner?
Yes. I started with a i u e o.... But after one week we were starting to converse in simple Japanese. At first I found the program intensity to be very fast, but after about 3 or 4 weeks I was used to the pace.
Have you studied any other foreign languages before?
I've studied English and French as foreign languages. I lived in Taiwan until I was 14 so Chinese is my native language.
How long have you been at Yamasa now?
7 weeks now.
Is this the first time you have lived in Japan?
Yes. I have visited before but this is the first time I've lived here. The last time I came to Japan was in 1992 for a 7 day trip.
Of the places you went to on the Discovery tour, which ones did you enjoy the most?
The Ningyou Museum in Nagoya, Nijo Castle in Kyoto, Mountain Biking in the valleys down near Ise, Asuke. I also liked the nice hotel we stayed in when we visited Ago.
The Ningyou Museum was very beautiful and the styles distinctly Japanese. At Nijo castle you could feel the history - I especially liked the creaky floorboards that were designed to creak so that Ninja assasins would be easier to detect. Mountain biking was great - it feels very good and refreshing. And the mountain village of Asuke is a gem. The river was cool and refreshing, and crossing the river was a lot of fun.
Were there any places on the tour that you didn't enjoy or wish you hadn't gone to?
I think ceramall in Nagoya was a pretty boring place to have lunch.
Lots of ceramics. And that was all. And because of the weight we couldn't buy anything because of the hassle shipping it home.
Where are you living at the moment?
Rec World Hotel - single.
What is your accommodation like?
tatami mat floors. I also like the nice sauna - the towels and soap etc are provided and I don't need to pay for it so I can go everyday. But I feel a bit isolated there. I'd prefer to be closer to campus.
How do you get to classes?
The shuttle provided by Yamasa.
What are you plans after graduation?
Continue my university studies.
What is the biggest challenge or problem you've faced so far in Japan?
Spending more than I expected. I haven't been sick or lost etc.
Any surprises you would like to share?
Everything is better than what I expected. I didn't expect the air-conditioning and the teachers are great. Also I didn't expect the class sizes to be so small. The teachers entertain us as they teach. They also come to the parties and events so its easy to relate with them. The other surprise was that the hotel was further away and I either had to depend on the shuttle bus or pay for bus separately.
If a new student was entering your class today and asked for some advice, what would you say?
Bring a good dictionary and notebooks. The amount of homework is OK but you need to study.
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