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"I've definitely become more independent"

Allison Nguyen
Home country: Australia
Japanese Language Program

Allison Nguyen has made the most of the opportunities available to stretch her Japanese language ability; whether that be through tackling the daily homework or taking on the challenge of the Japanese Speech Contest. In addition to gaining confidence in her language ability, Allison also notes that she has learnt a lot from the experience of living abroad, carefully juggling her busy study schedule with finding time to make the most of being in Japan.

How did you find out about your current program and what made you decide to pursue it?

Back in high school, I asked my Japanese teacher what university he recommended for its language program. He mentioned Keio University, and so when the time came to fill in my university preferences, I decided to include Keio University.

Please tell us a little bit about your experience of the application process.

There were so many forms given to me from my home university, but I'm thankful there was so much support in filling them out! I needed to consult family and friends to make sure I was making the right choice in university, accommodation, and language program.

Please tell us about a typical weekday while studying at Keio.

Wake up early in the morning, going onto fairly crowded trains to reach my campus. Have class for about three hours with a break in-between. Eat a hearty lunch in the nearby shops with a friend or two. Go home and do some homework. Free time until I sleep!

Please tell us about your weekends while studying at Keio.

Try as quickly as possible to finish all outstanding homework. Board the train to get to the city. Take a dance class or two. Have lunch. Go window shopping. It's a packed day but fun. On Sunday, go to service at a Japanese church. Spend time with the folks there, and then relax for the rest of the day.

What do you enjoy about life at Keio?

The Japanese Language Program is superb. Not only are the teachers knowledgeable and easily approachable, the program is structured in such a way to enhance all aspects of language learning. Lots of students complain that there is too much homework (homework is handed in almost every single day of class), but it definitely puts what is learnt into practice.

KOSMIC, the International Student Association, organizes a variety of events.

Staff working with the exchange students. They will go the extra mile to make sure you are comfortable and getting the most out of your program.

What has been your most memorable experience so far during your time in Japan?

Giving a speech in the Keio University Mita Public Speaking Hall (Mita Enzetsu-kan). My speech was on the contrasting perspectives of fashion between Japan and Australia. It's nerve-wracking speaking to a Japanese audience on a complex topic, but I do believe the effort of writing and preparing the speech paid off—I have a little more confidence with public speaking now.

Think back on yourself before coming to Japan. How have you changed as a result of coming to Keio and to Japan, and how have your views of Japan changed?

I've definitely become more independent. Being the youngest out of five children and living in a fairly financially well-off family, I was used to having people do the housework for me and buy what I needed. Now I'm taking on all those responsibilities! While it's a lot to do, I am enjoying it.

How would you recommend Keio to students in your home country?

Simply make friends with students learning Japanese and encouraging those wanting to go on exchange to consider Keio University.

Please give a brief piece of advice for prospective international students at Keio.

Keep in touch with previous students—they are a gold mine of information about the inner-workings of university life.

(This interview is from January 2013.)

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