PUTRA Experience: The Outbound Mobility Experience @ Kokugakuin Virtual Short Term Exchange Program
Are you a UPM students who are interested to join Outbound mobility program and want to learn more about the experience from other outbound mobility Alumni?
We hear you!
As part of the effort to provide more insight on the students experience during their outbound mobility program, we will be featuring a series of articles written by our Outbound Mobility Students. In our first publication, we will be featuring the article written by Ms Chew Shun Lin who underwent her virtual outbound mobility program at Kokugakuin University in September 2021.
The program was conducted during the height of the pandemic. With the border restriction in Japan still being imposed during the program, this does not stop the mobility efforts to Japan. The program, which was originally planned to be held on-site had to be changed to online. However, this does not stop our Alumni from joining the program and expanding her horizon while learning a new language. Let us hear the student experience below.
My exchange program with Kokugakuin University (國學院大學) was fully held online as there was a travel restriction imposed by Japan. Sadly, instead of three courses which this program comprises, I only got to attend one course, which is Japanese Language. The other two courses have to be done physically, hence I was not able sit for the other two courses.
The entire program lasted for a semester long, which is about five to six months. Although it sounds long, but time passed by in the blink of an eye. Occasionally, I wished I had gone for the 1-year program instead of the half year program. However, what is done is done. I can only look forward to more chances in the future.
I had learned a lot regarding the Japanese Language. With native Japanese lecturers to teach me Japanese, I’m slowly adapting and absorbing the language in its native form. It was a good exposure to the language. The lecturers are very supportive and non-judgmental, which are excellent when it comes to learning a new language. No one wants to be laughed or ridiculed at when learning a foreign language.
They also tried to teach us as much local onomatopoeia and slangs that usually could not be learned in textbooks. It was a shame that I could not use it frequently with people as I have minimal to no contact with Japanese students or Japanese people in general. However, it is good to know something extra.
I had 4 Japanese classes per week with 4 different lecturers. The lecturers are Kumada-sensei, Andou-sensei, Yoshida-sensei and Murasawa-sensei. Each of them is unique on their own. Personally speaking, I could not choose a favourite out of them as they are all equally good at teaching.
Kumada-sensei is motherly and taught us with great patience, while Andou-sensei showed us how kind and sweet teachers could be. Furthermore, Yoshida-sensei is a very modern teacher as she could relate to the current trends despite her age. Last but not least, Murasawa-sensei is the only man among the other lecturers. He is witty and sociable and I quite enjoyed the chit-chat session we had after every class.
In K-STEP, we also got to have exchange sessions (also known as Coffee Hour) with Japanese students of Kokugakuin University despite it being fully online. The exchange session was handled by a group of students called the “Japanese University Buddy” or in short, JUB. Personally, I prefer it to be held physically, that way we get to communicate more smoothly and we will have better interactions and bonding. However, due to the travel restrictions, we can’t afford to be picky about it.
In the JUB exchange session, I was also requested to share about Malaysian’s food and tourist spots. I am glad that my sharing and presentation had got them interested to try Malaysian food store that was available in their country. I felt proud that I was able to present a sharing of our country’s pride and joy in Japanese and the presentation was understood by Japanese people.
Furthermore, I got to experience how real Japanese language sound like. Japanese in class and Japanese in public sounds slightly different and the speed of the enunciation of words are faster. It was a little difficult to understand them in the first few sessions, but I slowly manage to grasp what they were saying. The students from JUB were very helpful. They try to help me out whenever I do not seem to understand what was going on.
They also showed me streets, local cuisines and tourist spots around Japan, since we could not visit them. I still remember when one of them showed me one of their favourite desserts which are fresh cream (生クリーム). I was confused when I heard it, as I rarely hear people eat fresh cream as dessert. I know it taste good, but not as a dessert or dish. Learning that Japanese have fresh cream as dessert really was an eye opener to me.
I was a little disappointed and sad that I could not see the students from JUB in real life, but I hope we will meet one day. I am really grateful to meet them in my life and I hope that my sharing of my experience and life in Malaysia will pique their interest to come visit us one day.
To be honest, my mobility experience was like a roller coaster of emotions. Due to the pandemic, my exchange program ended up fully online. I started the exchange program with full of hope that I could visit Japan and experience the culture, society and ambience, but as the program reaches the finishing line, I realized that desire will remain as a dream. It will be just as the saying said, the higher your dreams and hopes are, the more you have to be willing to sacrifice.
I would not say that the exchange was an entire waste. There was some knowledge and experience that I had gained from the program directly and indirectly. My Japanese proficiency improves and my confidence to speak in Japanese increases. I get to know how Japanese classes are held and how I can replicate it when I plan to teach Japanese language in the future. It was also helpful as I can add an extra language in my resume.
In conclusion, it was a bittersweet exchange program with Kokugakuin University. I still remember the last class with all my Japanese lecturers and classmates were very emotional and sad. I do not think I will forget these moments with all of them. I am grateful for my mobility coordinator, Miss Hajar, and my course coordinator, Dr. Ewan who helped me with all of my inquiries and problems with my studies in UPM. I am also grateful for Mr. Tu Yu-Ming from Kokugakuin University, who helped us with the applications and arranging Coffee Hour with Japanese students. This was a memorable season in my life.
Some of the screenshot taken during the Japanese Language Classes during Kokugakuin Virtual Short Term Exchange (Fall Intake 2021/2022).
Article By : Chew Shun Lin (202016),
Faculty of Modern Language and Communication
Kokugakuin Virtual Short Term Exchange (Fall Intake 2021/2022).
Date of Input: 31/01/2023 | Updated: 31/01/2023 | sh_najiyah
Universiti Putra Malaysia
43400 UPM Serdang
Selangor Darul Ehsan