Winter semester of 2013 academic year I have spent in Japan as exchange student. When I was offered to study at Akita National College of Technology, I felt that this should be right. In comparison to other option, Tokyo NCT, the one in Akita was not so busy, and seemed more submerged into deep country life. That is exactly what I wanted.
Campus is situated between huge rice field and town residential area. College grounds are quite autonomous, with dormitory, canteen, laboratories, sport halls and school buildings – all next to each other. College life was quite peaceful, people gathered in small groups to hang together. As I predicted, few people spoke any English, and that was forcing me to practice Japanese. When alone, I often went for a bicycle ride to take some photos.
I have noticed a good tendency with everything I was doing at the campus, was it working on my project, training my body or just enjoying leisure. The thing was that no matter what you would plan to do, there are at least minimal means to get it done, like in first aid kit. Our mechatronics laboratory had just enough tools for electronic prototyping, and everything else was relatively easy to order. In the dormitory I was reading borrowed manga and playing guitar, left by some graduated student. Quite surprise was to find a small operational darkroom right in the corner of the electronics club. Two students from the photo club took time to explain and teach the basics of the monochrome film processing to me. Kendo club was not so popular as baseball club, but still had some members to come around from time to time, and correct my techniques.
Definitely, Japanese students have wide possibilities to practice things they are passionate about. Right in the same institution they have everything needed for that. I do not remember myself being bored, even while spending whole week inside the campus.