One of the best decisions I’ve made was studying at the Hokkaido Japanese Language School (JALS) for 8 weeks. Looking back, my experiences in Hokkaido all feel like a really good dream that I didn’t want to end. If you want to learn real Japanese, there is no better way to do it than here. I have seen students who spoke zero Japanese come to class each day, and by the end of their summer session, were able to write, read, and speak easily! My personal progress has been no less amazing, but even more, I left Sapporo with the drive to keep studying Japanese, to keep pushing myself forward in life, and to work towards my goals each day.
Learning Japanese is just one small part of the experience though. After morning classes, the day belongs to the students. JALS always has an activity lined up after lunch for those who are interested, and if not, there is always something to see and do in Sapporo! This brings me to the most memorable and important part of my journey—my friends. I made so many friends during my time in Sapporo between the students of JALS and the Japanese residents of the share house that JALS arranged for my stay. These people that I call my friends made Sapporo feel like a second home. We shared food, drinks, stories, embarrassing karaoke performances, and so much more. And no matter what background anybody was from, we were all equal and in this adventure together. Each weekend JALS had a new weekend excursion lined up for the students and it was these outings that were my most memorable. I had the chance to see the expansive lavender fields of Furano, Biei lake—a lake that echoes that beautiful teal color of Caribbean shorelines, Rusutsu Resort—an amusement park and ski resort in the mountains with breathtaking views and rollercoasters, Otaru—a well-known seaside town with a scenic canal reminiscent of Venice, and much more! If you’re thinking about visiting or vacationing in Japan next summer, consider the Hokkaido Japanese Language School! You’ll do more, see more, and make many unforgettable friends along the way. And don’t forget to bring your camera!
Weekday activities felt inaccessible for people who did not prepay for them in advance due to their cost. I also feel that the homework was sometimes a bit repetitive for what you gain from it. Studying the grammar handout and vocab was a much better use of my time personally.