Alumni Spotlight: Marion Meester

This person is Marion Meester. She's 23 years old. From September 2014 until August 2017, she studied Japanese Studies at Leiden University. She obtained her Bachelor Degree at this university in 2017. As a part of these studies, she studied Japanese at a Japanese language school for about 3 months.

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I wanted to gain work experience in Japan while improving my Japanese language skills at the same time. I also thought that doing this internship would be useful because I want to become an English teacher in Sapporo in the future and, during the internship, you get the opportunity to attend and assist in English classes for Japanese people, as well as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher).

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My program provider assisted me with finding a place to stay in Sapporo and during my internship by answering my questions, if I had any. For example, a previous intern who had designed events for the school before helped me with coming up with ideas for future events of the school, like for the English Chat Night, for example.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

You should be motivated to learn Japanese and to use it during your internship. You should also be creative and be able to design stuff for events the school holds. Besides that, you should be good at presenting in front of a group, since you are going to lead the events the school holds. Presenting in front of a group might be scary at first, but you will get used to it eventually and you will learn a lot from it.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

You will go to Japanese language classes from 09:30 until 12:20. You will have lunch after that - from 12:20 until 13:30. After that, you will have your internship from 13:30 until 16:30. Sometimes you will also have events during the evening, like the English Chat Night. You will have to lead these events and explain to the participants what they are going to do during the event. Also, you will answer any possible questions they might have.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was that I would not be able to make friends. I tried to overcome that by being friendly and talking to new people instead of waiting until they started talking to me. So if you just do your best and if you are just open-minded and friendly, you will make friends eventually and you will have nothing to be scared about.

Why should you choose Hokkaido JaLS and not another language school in Sapporo?

I think that you should choose Hokkaido JaLS because it's very different from other Japanese language schools in Japan in general. The atmosphere is really great, the people who work there are very helpful and friendly, and you will feel at home right away. You will not get the ''gaijin'' treatment like you would usually get at other Japanese language schools. They treat you like you are one of them, and you will meet a lot of amazing people and become friends with people from countries from all over the world.