Interview 2: Xiaorong Han (China)

"HU really expanded my horizons!"

Name: Xiaorong Han
Age: 25
Nationality: Chinese
Program: HUSA (Hiroshima University Study Abroad)
Hobbies: Reading (especially Japanese books)

Past "Voices from Abroad"

For the second edition of "Voices from Around the World", I interviewed Xiaorong Han from China. Currently, Xiaorong is a student participating in the HUSA (Hiroshima University Study Abroad) Program. In the future, it's her dream to become a Japanese language teacher, and with her Japanese skills, it shouldn't be difficult. However, how does she effectively communicate with her fellow HUSA students who only speak English, and what benefits has studying abroad provided to her? Let's find out!

Why did you choose HU?

Just when I was thinking I would go abroad, there was a flier from HU that came in... my university (Beijing Normal University) has a university agreement with HU, and since HU is a really good university, I applied (to the HUSA program).

What is your area of study in China?

Japanese Language Education and Grammar.

No wonder! (Now I see why she's so good at Japanese!) Is your life in China different from your life in Japan?

Very much so! (laughs). Things are more expensive in Japan. Other differences...
Well, I'm here on the HUSA Program, and so I've made lots of friends with students from other countries. It's been a good learning experience for me. About once a week we all get together and have a party! Everyone brings food from their home countries...(laughs).

That sounds like so much fun! Was there anything that surprised you?

Hmm... When the HUSA staff came to greet us at the airport, my luggage had broken. I didn't have insurance at the time, so I jokingly said to my tutor, "Oh, my luggage is broken~" and my tutor immediately went to a HUSA staff member and told them what happened, and they had the airway company fix it right away! I was so surprised at how kind everyone was.

Glad to hear it! Are you living in the Ikenoue Student Dorms? How is life in the dorms?

Yep. Up until now I've only lived in the dorms in China where it's 4 girls to a room and we all live together. It was always lively, but now I live by myself (so it's quite different). Before I came to Japan, I didn't even know how to cook, but now I'm able to make myself meals.

Oh wow. So because of HUSA you started cooking? That's fantastic.

Thanks! (laughs)

How about your academic life? What kinds of courses are you taking?

I'm currently taking Japanese language courses in the Faculty of Education. And not just Japanese language courses aimed at foreigners - I'm also taking regular HU courses with Japanese students. Japanese Grammar... I suppose the bulk of the courses are about language education. I mean courses that will help you to teach Japanese.

Of all the courses you're taking right now, which is your favorite?

Japanese grammar. The class is really fun! (laughs) Well, I mean, grammar isn't really that fun, but the professor's lectures are great! I had a lot of homework or essays to write last year. The essays were particularly difficult (laughs). And this year in my grammar class, we have a review quiz before each class starts.

Do you have time to participate in any clubs or extra-curriculars?

While I'm not an official member, I started to participate in the Tea Ceremony Club thanks to my tutor. It's...very strict (laughs). You have to follow lots of rules. I joined because I wanted to try and understand Japanese culture more. We hold tea ceremonies with about 5-6 people and eat Japanese sweets - they're really good!

I want to join too! (laughs) We have a lot of foreign students here on campus - do you have lots of opportunities to meet other foreigners and Japanese students?

Hmm...I suppose that coming here, I really got a feel for the necessity of English. All my friends can speak it, and I found myself wishing that I could speak English a little more than I do right now. I mean, if I can't speak English, I can't make friends. The Japanese people I've met have been very kind and I've made many friends.

Do you mainly meet Japanese students in class?

Right. That and the Tea Ceremony Club. The rest I meet through parties or hanami (cherry blossom parties)...(laughs).

Seems that learning Japanese is the key to making Japanese friends.

It really is. And once you make Japanese friends, you can practice your Japanese with them, and you'll learn more natural and casual Japanese.

What would you like to do after you graduate?

Since I'm studying abroad, I have to delay my graduation by a year, however after I graduate, I want to become a Japanese language teacher in China.

Were there any experiences you had during your time here with HUSA that will be helpful in finding a job?

The fact that I met so many people is helpful. I'm also planning to participate in an internship, which will be a great experience. I want to get an experience of what working in a real Japanese company is like.

Do you have any advice for those who want to participate in the HUSA program?

Most students who come for HUSA take lots of courses - I want to remind them that study abroad isn't all about classes; there are circles and clubs too. I urge them to participate in these activities and make lots of Japanese and international friends!

Of all your study abroad experiences, which one stands out the most to you?

One day, me, 2 Korean girls, and an Indonesian girl were talking. One of the Koreans spoke really good Japanese, while the other had just started learning it. I'm not so great at English, but the Indonesian girl is fantastic at it - but she can't speak Japanese. I couldn't really understand her English, so the Korean girl who could speak Japanese would translate what I said into Korean and tell it to her friend, who would then translate it into English. It was pretty difficult, and really made me consider the value of communication. So I suppose what left an impression on me was that even if you don't speak the same language, you can still make friends. We all promised each other that we would visit one another after we went back home.

Any final comments?

I think I'm really lucky to have been able to study abroad. Study abroad itself is great, and I was really touched. I want to study abroad short-term in different countries in the future for my career. I didn't even consider studying abroad before I came to Japan.

Looks like your worldview has really expanded. Thank you so much for allowing me to interview you today.

Thank you.

On the Higashi-Hiroshima Campus

At the Annual International Friendship Party

With friends at the Ikenoue Student Dormitory