4 min read
Greetings to all new students! I know that some of you have come here to Oita Prefecture alone, away from your beloved friends and family. You are probably full of anxiety, but we all feel the same way. I am only 19 years old, but I wanted to share my first year of university—during which I struggled with the pandemic—to help you have a better life here. If this helps you even a little bit, it would make me happy.
From Shizuoka to Beppu!
My name is Mai Koizumi, but everyone calls me "Maimai." I am a girl from Shizuoka. Born in 2002, I entered APU in 2001. I had always dreamed of life at university. I longed to be a university student. I chose APU because I was drawn to the international atmosphere and the character of the senior students. Living on my own, away from my parents for the first time, I came to APU full of excitement and anticipation. Before coming to APU, I attended a private combined junior/senior high school for girls, where I was fortunate to be surrounded by family, friends, and teachers. I lived in a comfortable and protected bubble without fear or anxiety.
Because I attended the Pre-APU Camp, I made friends before coming to Beppu, and because I lived in AP House I talked and talked with my friends every single day, late into the night.
I took part in many different events, making a lot of friends along the way.
A year of challenges and setbacks
The three main events in my first semester were: Academic Camp, where we spent two months writing a paper; the FIRST Program, where we worked in groups to survey international students; and the GLAD Program, where we worked in groups with international students to think about the SDGs. Even with the pandemic, I was able to meet many people through these programs. I began to look at people more closely, and to think about my position in group work and what I could do to facilitate group work. I think I grew as a person.
In my second semester I became an RA. RA is an abbreviation of "Resident Assistant," which is a member of the student organization responsible for supporting students residing in the dorms. We put on a variety of different events, such as house events or countdown events at the end of the year for the whole dorm, or smaller events for each individual floor. Although there are difficulties, such as the challenges of communal living and relating to other people, being an RA is really fun. It was very difficult to be an RA for other students of the same age, but it was a great experience.
I did try some different clubs and student organizations while I was in these programs. I didn't make the cut for some of the student organizations. Like I mentioned earlier, I had not really encountered many setbacks in my life, so this made me feel quite negative about everything, thinking that I was alone and that nobody needed me. However, my friends listened to me and showed me how to keep at it. They helped me realize that being impatient and dwelling on stuff would not change anything. This is why I regained my confidence and managed to become an RA. Over the last year I have learned the importance of human connections. It is important to meet all kinds of people and find your valuable friends. Take your time to create a warm place where you can feel most at home.
With RAs at the "Small World Festival," a welcome event for new dorm residents
With one thing and another, I became a "building leader" RA in my third semester (from April 2022). Starting this spring we have been taking in a growing number of international students who have been unable to enter Japan up until now because of pandemic-related restrictions, and AP House is becoming more and more the place that I had envisioned.
I want to ensure that AP House is a good place for me, for the other RAs, and for all the residents, and I want to make it a place that will not be defeated by the coronavirus. I will continue to do my best with the support of my friends and fellow RAs.
That is my first year at APU, but my adventure continues. To all the new students: I am sure you will experience some frustration since this is all new to you. Don't compare yourself to others, believe in yourself, and create your own "APU life." APU is a place where you can meet wonderful people. I hope to meet you somewhere soon. If we do meet, I hope you will tell me about your adventures.
My nickname is Maimai! I thought I had just entered the school, but the next thing I knew I was already a sophomore. I'm RA at AP House! I'm looking forward to taking on a lot of challenges this year! I'll do my best!