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Get to know the people of Kobe and get out in nature by volunteering

Kobe Institute of Computing Department of 3DCG Animation
Huang Hsiao Chu
Taiwan (Arrived in Japan in March, 2020)

Can you tell us about your decision to study abroad in Japan?

In my sophomore year of high school, I did a homestay in Hiroshima for 10 days.
At the time, I couldn’t speak Japanese yet, and my host family couldn’t speak English or Chinese, so we communicated with gestures, or by drawing pictures. I really enjoy my time in Japan because of that experience.

How did your family react when you told them you wanted to study abroad?

They agreed right away. I’d been studying Japanese for two years for this, and I’d passed N2 (of the JLPT), which I needed to study abroad, so they agreed to let me study abroad.

How did you study Japanese?

I studied Japanese on my own, without going to a school. Kanji are pretty similar to the characters we use in Taiwan, so that part was relatively easy, but I wasn’t really able to do much conversation practice in Taiwan, so [speaking] was more difficult. I talked to friends I’d met in Hiroshima on the phone, and used online meetings to practice my Japanese.

Why did you choose to study abroad in Kobe in particular?

Before I studied abroad, I visited Kansai and went to Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe, and I really liked what a pretty city Kobe was, and its ambiance, so I decided to study abroad there. Some of the nice things about living in Kobe, I think, are that both the mountains and the sea are really close by. I especially like the view from Mt. Rokko.

How did you find your current school? What made you choose it?

I studied animation in high school, so I decided I wanted to major in animation, too. I was attracted to the idea of living on a big campus with a lot of other students, so if I was able to, I wanted to study abroad at a university. But because I ended up going with a vocational school for financial reasons, I chose the Kobe Institute of Computing, which has great facilities in the center of Kobe. I found the school by myself, online.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I want to work at an animation company in Japan. My family in Taiwan supports my goal of working in Japan, too.

How does your image of life in Japan before you came compare with now?

Before coming to Japan, I was watching a lot of Japanese TV dramas, so I was imagining my life would be like that. I imagined I would have close ties to the people living around me, and I would spend my time with a tight-knit group of friends, but the reality was a little different. Still, I do think Japanese girls are just as stylish as they appear in the TV shows.

What new things have you tried since coming to Japan?

I actively participated in activities outside of school. I volunteered to help farm in the countryside, sell rice, and with tree-planting; and I also learned kickboxing. There are many clubs at a vocational school, like you might find at a university, so I looked for groups online or on social media. I was able to spend time with Japanese people, and enjoy spending time in nature, so it was a lot of fun.

Please share a message for students considering studying abroad.

Studying abroad in Kobe is really fun! If you’re East Asian, in particular, you don’t appear “foreign,” so I really recommend reaching out and talking to Japanese people yourself. In my experience, I’ve found that many people think that “foreign students speak English,” so it may be a good idea to study a little bit of English, too!