I ride my bicycle to the university every day. It’s convenient because it only takes me about 12 minutes to get there. There is a station nearby, so I can take a train and change to a bus. But, I like riding my bike to school to take in the Kyoto cityscape. In the winter it’s not very cold, either, but in June and July it rains a lot. So, on rainy days, I take the train.
I’ve always liked bridges and skyscrapers and wanted to study civil engineering. I was also hoping to study abroad in order to meet new people and cultures in new lands, so I didn’t hesitate to apply when I heard that a Japanese university in the top 10 in the field of civil engineering was offering programs in English.
Now I can study the subject I’ve always been interested in under a team of world-class professors. There are a number of professors who teach in a way that is easy to understand and who are inspirational to students.
I frequently eat lunch together with classmates and friends in the student cafeteria. There are a lot of choices on the menu, and I especially like ramen and udon. The prices are amazingly cheap. Japanese food is delicious, and when eating elsewhere, I love to eat things like sushi.
We have fun in class, and because the subjects of the lectures always capture my interest, I feel like “I want to learn more” and “I’d like to discuss that more with my classmates.”
Sometimes I talk with my friends about what I’ve studied in class. For example, when there is something I don’t understand in Japanese class, I discuss it with a Japanese friend, and if it’s something scientific, with a Japanese friend who’s good at that area. Because I’m half Egyptian and half French, I sometimes also help out friends who are studying Arabic or French. Since I’ve been in Kyoto, I’ve made about 80 friends. The ratio of Japanese to foreigners is about 1:2. I want to meet more and more people from different countries.
When classes for the day are completed, I study in the library for about two hours. The main Kyoto University Library and the Library of the School of Global Engineering are filled with interesting and useful books. I’ve never not been able to find a foreign book I was looking for, so the collection seems adequate to me! I even found some of the novels in French that I like.
The Kyoto University Library is very quiet and spacious, so I can concentrate there. Especially convenient are the Media Commons for watching films, listening to music, and language study, and Study Room 24, which is open 24 hours a day. There are also lots of PCs with Internet access.
I use the Learning Commons, which is fitted out with projectors and electronic whiteboards, when talking over with my classmates what we learned in class. Also, there are tables with “Join us!” signs on them, which means that anyone can join the discussion. Once, for example, I joined a discussion about a Greek myth I’m interested in. When there is something you don’t understand, you can ask the helpdesk for assistance; for instance, when I asked them for help with a projector once they were very nice to me and showed me what to do.
I go home after having something to eat at the student cafeteria or at a restaurant in the Sanjou area. The dormitory is a very comfortable place to live. After arriving home, I sometimes go jogging with friends from the dormitory.
I had been looking forward to the new experiences I would have in Japan since before arriving here, but now that I am studying at Kyoto University every day is amazing. I can speak five languages, but in these four years my goal is to master Japanese and become “hexalingual.” I’m interested in hobbies that are traditional in Japan, like kendo (Japanese fencing) and calligraphy. Compared to going to university in my home country, I feel that my experience here will allow me to grow more, both intellectually and personally.
Of all the cities I’ve lived in, Kyoto is the best. For all of you study-abroad applicants reading this, choosing Kyoto University is probably the right answer! At Kyoto University, you can meet people from all over the world, make new friends every day, and have new experiences. What’s more, wherever you go in Kyoto, you will be surrounded by genuine Japanese culture and modern technology. You have to see it to believe it!March 2015