“Ever since I was 15 I’ve wanted to go to Japan – and Tokyo especially. When the meeting about the year abroad came around during my second year at Brookes, we had a list of several locations in Japan to choose from”
Omar Chowdhury started teaching himself Japanese while he was studying for his A-levels. He enjoyed the language, the way it sounded and how different it was from English, but felt he needed a structured course and environment to pursue his studies.
I choose Oxford Brookes because it was one of the few universities in the UK which had an established Japanese Studies programme and whose lecturers offered such a range of expertise in Japanese language and culture.
Ever since I was 15 I’ve wanted to go to Japan – and Tokyo especially. When the meeting about the year abroad came around during my second year at Brookes, we had a list of several locations in Japan to choose from. I instantly set my eyes upon the partner universities located in Tokyo. After that it was only a matter of hard work and time before I arrived for my year abroad at Meiji University in Tokyo.
For my first few weeks in Japan it felt like I was lost in a dream; I was so dazed and excited from the feeling of just being in Japan that everything felt surreal. The train systems in Tokyo are like the London tube but with 4 times as many train lines, all run by different companies for different services. The city streets are like an intricate spider’s web weaved out of large freeways leading onto small side roads with countless branching streets. Anyone will tell you that it is too easy to get lost just roaming around aimlessly. But getting lost is also a great way to find small shrines dedicated to local deities and local family run eateries.
Compared to the UK, the atmosphere, weather, people, food and architecture in Japan are completely different. The people are friendly, polite and happy to have a conversation with you. The food in Japan is amazing and exotic; there are so many flavors that I did not even know existed. When I arrived in Tokyo in September it was still summer. The weather was quite a shock as the humidity levels were through the roof. Even people who have lived in Japan all their life still find the heat hard to bear. Walking through the streets of Tokyo in summer you see countless people swimming in sweat, trying to towel themselves down just to continue sweating from the intense humidity.
The highlight of being in Japan so far has to be meeting so many new people. In the halls where I’m staying there’s a real mix of students from around the world – they’re all great people and we’ve enjoyed every minute of living together. The Japanese students I have met so far have all been friendly, helpful and outgoing people. It seems like every day I meet new people and feel lucky to be able to do so. My experience in Japan has been amazing; I have enjoyed every minute of it even if the work load from the university has kept me very busy!
My advice for some planning their year abroad would be study hard, look at the choices of Universities in Japan carefully and choose wisely. Some people may not be cut out for a huge city like Tokyo but that is not a bad thing. Fellow students who are studying in other parts of Japan seem to be enjoying everything there is to offer just as much as I am enjoying Tokyo.
I feel like Oxford Brookes has been a real stepping stone for me, allowing me to gain confidence and perfect my Japanese language abilities to a near native level. If you are thinking of studying Japanese, make sure it is at Oxford Brookes. The level of tuition and help I have received from the lecturers has been phenomenal. The way the language is taught and the structure and pace of the lessons are perfect. I feel that anyone would be able to pick up Japanese by studying at Oxford Brookes.
Finally, I would like to thank all the tutors in the Oxford Brookes Japanese language team for helping me and my fellow students to nurture our Japanese language abilities to such a high level.