This summer I travelled to Japan and attended a Japanese language school for four weeks. I have been learning the language for over 3 years now as a hobby and wanted to be able to improve my language skills in a more formal setting and interact with native speakers. One reason I chose Sapporo (Hokkaido, Northern Japan) was the weather – it is a lot cooler in the summer there compared to the Honshu island, where Tokyo and Kyoto are located, and I was right the weather was lovely. I also chose Sapporo because I didn’t know much about it and felt that this was the perfect opportunity to learn more about the major city of Hokkaido.
This was my first time visiting Japan and I was going alone, so I was nervous. I suffer with a little bit of travel sickness and that mixed with nerves made the 16 hour flight difficult. But once on the ground, I felt a lot better. I was staying in a shared house with a lot of kind people and the school that I attended had a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere. On my first day at the school there was a welcome lunch so that the other new students and I could get to know each other and other people at the school. The main classes were from 9:30 till 12:20 every weekday and had at maximum 8 students in them so they felt very comfortable and focused. I was placed in an intermediate class so it was challenging but felt appropriate for my level. I also had private 1:1 lessons 3 times a week which let me focus on my speaking skills, an area I was really trying to improve during my time in japan.
Before going to Japan, I was embarrassed to speak Japanese since I never had anyone to speak it with but thanks to the supportive environment of the school I have become a lot more confident in my Japanese abilities. The school also offered a lot of different cultural experiences and activities. One of my favourite activities I took part in was the trip to Niseko where we went white water rafting. I had never done rafting before and despite the water being cold it was really fun!
From this experience abroad, my Japanese language skills improved a lot along with my confidence. My four weeks in Sapporo passed by so quickly and I began to miss it as soon as I left. I got to experience a different culture and make lifelong friends. I would really love to return to Japan some time soon, the only thing stopping me is the 16 hour flight!