People tend to say that if you want to become a wise person in life, you need to broaden your horizon. In order to broaden my horizon, I decided to leave Germany and visit the Kyushu University as an exchange student for half a year.
Studying Product Design and Process Development back in Germany, it felt natural to me to pay a visit to Japan, as it is one of the leading countries not only in terms of Product Design, but also Process Optimization. Still it wasn’t only for This reason I decided to travel to Japan. I was always interested in experiencing a completely different culture such as the Japanese one and finding out how I might manage being stuck in an entirely unknown environment. With this in mind I arrived in the beautiful town of Fukuoka that completely blew me away with its Skyscrapers, the Yatais (Food Stalls) next to the Naka River and all the breath taking shrines and temples you can find while having a stroll through the town.
Of course, I was also confronted with some problems and difficulties in the beginning and I must admit that not being able to read, write or talk to people was the most challenging dilemma I had to face during my stay. But it was the people of the Support Center, the professors and the students of Kyushu University who helped me overcome this obstacle many times and who made me feel at home.
Being able to work on many interesting projects on a daily basis, meeting new people during events that were not only held in school and getting a better impression of the culture and country by adapting to several customs and traveling around the country with my precious bicycle ( Bicycle) made me realise that communication isn’t just about words, grammar or pronunciation. Its more about gestures, facial expressions, the actions you take after a conversation and sometimes even about not taking yourself too seriously and just laughing off all the funny misunderstandings ..
Ultimately, I can’t tell if I got any wiser over the last 6 months that I spent in Japan. But whenever people ask me “Would you decide to go to Japan again?” I think back, sitting on the beach in Fukuoka. And while I remember looking at that beautiful horizon where the sea meets the sky, I can only think of one answer: “Anytime!”
Rapp, Melanie Vanessa
–March 2017 Exchange Student, Strategic Design, Graduate School from KISD, TH Köln