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Interviews with International Students – Grant


[This interview was done by Kenta and Taiga]

At HUE Asahikawa, Grant studied differences between the American education system and the Japanese educational system.

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When asked about the advantages of studying abroad, Grant explained that he felt the experience made him mentally stronger and that he learned a lot about culture through the experience.

While some people worry about money, Grant felt that you should not and that the experience is the most important part. Speaking of money, it cost about $5000 for Grant to study here. Grant was able to come due to a scholarship. But Grant really wanted to emphasize that the experience matters more.

While for most other exchange students, this was their first time abroad, Grant had actually been to Asahikawa and Japan before as a middle schooler. This is second time to come here and learn Japanese education system.


Grant felt that Japanese people were really polite but also very reserved about communicating with others. In America, we don’t stop talking even in a bus, but Japanese don’t do so. It is sometimes good to reserved, but sometimes not. While on the bus, he found it pleasant that people here are not blabbering to others on their phones while riding the bus but found it weird that they are constantly looking down. This is a big gap between Japanese and American bus-riding customs.


For Grant, the most challenging part of being in Japan is door jams. Since Grant is a tall guy, he hit his head several times. (But at least he could laugh about it!)


One thing he told us is to be surprised by how different the food sizes are between Japan and America – especially for things like steak.

Interviews with International Students – Corey

[This interview was done by Akito and Yuki]


Who is Corey?

Corey is from Illinois State University and he is majoring in business. Corey came to Japan to experience something new. This was first time to go abroad, and he thought this was a great experience. He was here for twenty six days, and he enjoyed, Japanese culture, food and the environment. He especially liked his homestay which was made easier by having a host-mom who could speak English. Through visiting a lot of Japanese schools, he remember to take off your shoes, less people and large room and non “Kyusyoku”.

Corey’s Experience with Japanese

Before he came, he couldn’t speak Japanese but he practiced Japanese here. So, now, he can speak Japanese and read Hiragana and Katakana. He thought that the Japanese people he met were friendly, welcoming, but shy.Moreover, he found that he could communicate with students in English So, he didn’t think language was a barrier for him here.

What he knew about HUE Asahikawa

He looked for information about HUE Asahikawa on the Internet before he came to Japan. And he found good Information on the school’s webpage.

He had three worries about studying abroad: language, food and trash separation. He found an English Japanese dictionary is useful and also a day planner so that you can fill out your weekends and keep tracking of what you’re doing., His favorite part of studying here was the food – especially curry and rice, sushi, and and Okonomiyaki.

He said he had no complaints and that everything about it was good! He found the Japanese classes easy to compared classes back at ISU because they had no tests and no homework. He felt that improved transportation would lead more people to think about going to HUE Asahikawa.

Him main advice for people who are thinking about studying abroad at HUE Asahikawa is to try new things and to be better experience.If you are planning to study abroad, his biggest piece of advice is to smile. If you smile, people will help you.

Interviews with International Students – Brianna

[We are three freshman in the GEL program that worked together for this interview: Reina, Ayako, and Kanami.]



We interviewed Brianna. She stayed in Japan was for 4 weeks. She is from Iowa state in USA, and she is a student as ISU (Illinois State University). She chose to come to HUE Asahikawa in Japan for studying abroad, because she wanted to go to a place different from anywhere she knows. Moreover, she wanted to learn culture and education. This time was both the first time for her to come to Japan and for her to study abroad.

Before she came to Japan, she worried about language issues, Internet access, and her host family. Then, when she came to Japan, she faced problems with both the language and the Internet. She couldn’t be able to communicating with HUE Asahikawa students, and couldn’t talk to her mother through the Internet for a few weeks.

While here at HUE Asahikawa, She took 3 Japanese classes here, and she found them helpful. She said that wants to learn more when she come to back. On a scale of 1 to 10 for language being a barrier, she had expected language to be a 9 before she came. But she felt it was only a 5 after she got here!

When she did not have classes, she did homework and spent a lot of time with her host family or friends in Japan. She loves her host family, so she misses them and that she won’t get to see them again is the worst part of studying abroad.

She also studied about culture and education while at HUE Asahikawa. Especially about culture, she learned that Japanese culture has formality and a lot of respect. In terms of traditional Japanese culture, she was able to experience kendo, ikebana flower arrangement, and tea ceremony. She described her experience to us as “adventure” in one word. She tried to communicate in Japanese, then she felt amazing. However, as the days went by, in college, host family, and even if in police office, she felt the kindness of people any time!

As students who want to study abroad and hang out with international students, she gave us some advice. She explained that Americans would be happy to talk with us. Therefore, when studying abroad, the most important things are that we should try to speak in English and not be shy all the time.

Student 交流

Earlier this month, I had my students stop by my house for a visit.

Through this, the students got to try some Western cuisine and play some board games. One of my favorite board games is Pandemic — a cooperative game where we try to save the world from a virus, and the students tried it  two times.

Advice from 2期生

This post is a place for 2期生 who have been in the program for just two months to give advice about what they think future GEL students should do.

Should they get part time jobs? Should they study hard? What classes do you recommend?

Agree or Disagree: If you are going to own a smartphone, it should be an iPhone.


Recently, several students (including GEL students) have replaced or upgraded their smartphones. When I last upgraded my phone (two years ago), I switched from a phone manufactured by SHARP running Android to an iPhone 5c. One of the reasons I switched is that I wanted to know what the big deal was about iPhones. Another reason is that one of our friends helped us find a really good deal on the phones. But I’ve noticed something — no one* switches from an iPhone back to an Android phone.

Here’s some food for thought: iPhones are high status items.

Second piece of food for thought: It’s $687 or so for an iPhone but only $254 or so for an Android smart phone (Forbes). (HT: Yung)

*okay that’s  hyperbole but I see a very strong tendency for people to go from Android to iPhone but not iPhone to android.

Vocabulary I used you might not know

Hyperbole = exaggeration = ことを過剰にする

HT = hat tip = thanks!

Your Assignment

Is this a good thing, a bad thing, or a neutral thing? I want each student to comment as an answer. Use at least 100 words (this is the HW due by 1/15).

What advice would you give to next year’s freshmen who join GEL?

Right now, the current GEL freshmen are nearing the end of their freshman year. You will soon be sophomores which makes you sempai to the new incoming class. Now, that you are older and wiser, what advice would you give about how they could spend their freshman year well?

Would you tell them that they should copy you? Should they get a part-time job? Who should they talk to to get the best advice? How should they study English? What major should they pick? Do you have any regrets about the year? Did  you have any great experiences that you think they should know about? Do you have any warnings for them?

Explain why you think what you think in your comments.

(We will do this one during class).

Top 10 Places to Eat near Campus

  1. Katoya (加藤屋) – ramen
  2. Tsutamori (つたもり) – hot pot, sashimi, tempura, donburi
  3. Umamiya (うまみ屋) – izakaya; students often eat here with their zemi because it’s near to campus and quite cheap (now out of business – hopefully the students can give another suggestion!)
  4. Hisoka (緋甦霞) – izakaya
  5. Okushiba Shoten (奥芝商店) – soup curry
  6. Ganbi
  7. Étude – bakery
  8. Suriya – authentic Nepalese curry
  9. Hamazushi (はま寿司)- conveyor belt sushi
  10. Gusto (ガスト) – family restaurant with bottomless beverages

But don’t overlook the school cafeteria (学食, where you can get a filling meal for about 300 yen) and the Seikyou (生協) convenience store on campus.

I am looking forward to the summaries from our students about these places to eat! I haven’t been to several of them.

10 Fun Things to Do in Asahikawa

Some people say there is not much to do in Asahikawa, but we think they’re wrong! We found 10 places in just 10 minutes:

  1. Visit the Asahiyama Zoo. Tourists trek to it from other countries.
  2. Eat ramen (梅光軒、青葉). Asahikawa is famous throughout Japan for its ramen!
  3. Eat soft serve (called ソフトクリーム). Hokkaido is renowned for its dairy products, and you can find exclusive flavors such as haskap (a blue, oval-shaped berry).
  4. Visit the airport.  You can find Asahikawa and Hokkaido specialties like omiyage, yuru-chara collectibles, onsen bath salts, corn-flavored Pretz, etc. Visit the gelato store near the airport too!
  5. Snow Museum (雪の美術館). Ice corridor, exhibits, concerts, art gallery.
  6. Take a stroll along the riverline (石狩川公園).
  7. Asahiyama Snow Village (旭山・雪の村). Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snow bananas, snow rafting, sledding, tubing, snow plow rides
  8. Hang out at the Asahikawa Station area (ice festival in spring, beer festival in summer, restaurants, shops, market, game center, movie theatre, etc.)
  9. Asahikawa City Museum (旭川市博物館)
  10. Asahikawa Science Center (旭川市科学館「サイパル」). Observatory, planetarium, science exhibits.

For more ideas and events, check out Asahikawa International Center‘s monthly Asahikawa INFO newsletter and Asanavi.

Dr. K’s Office

If you’re part of the GEL program or visiting HUEA an international student, you should stop by my office. There’s several good things that can happen when you visit my office:

  • First off, I often have little treats lying around, and if you’re a good student or stop by unexpectedly I may offer you something to welcome you into my office.
  • There’s an electric kettle so I can make piping hot tea, hot chocolate, and hot apple cider.
  • I tend to have one or two board games in my office at any given time (right now Carcassonne and Dixit). We play sitting on the comfortable couch.
  • There’s Japanese-language manga lying around (HUNTERxHUNTER, Full Metal Alchemist, etc.).
  • There’s a world map where you can mark where you’re from or where you studied abroad.

There’s a good chance that I will be in my office. Sometimes, we do class in my office. Other times, I am in here researching or coding. My research is primarily in philosophy in either late modern philosophy (Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard) or early Confucianism. Somehow, I’ve also done a decent bit work on philosophy and childhood. More recently, I’ve also done a little bit of work more related to my work in CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning).

If you are visiting our campus, please stop on by.



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