Messages from International Exchange Students

My Wonderful Time in Okinawa


 I was a teenager who loved Japanese drama when I fell in love with the sound of the Japanese language. When I started studying Japanese at the University of Rennes 2, I loved it even more. My goal (and also my dream) was to come to Japan as fast as possible. It was during a meeting with students who had returned from Japan that I decided to come to Okinawa. The students who returned from Okinawa were able to speak Japanese very well, so that became my motivation.

 I stayed in Okinawa for one year, from September 2018 to August 2019, and that was the most beautiful year of my life. I had nothing to worry about: OKIU, especially OKIU’s Global Education Support Center, takes very good care of students, and provided me with the chance to discover Okinawan culture (Eisa dance and music is something very incredible) and the Okinawan way of living on this beautiful island (the Pacific Ocean became my favorite ocean). I really enjoyed my classes, too! I had Japanese language classes every day, and I had English, Spanish, karate, calligraphy, and badminton classes, too. I was surprised in a positive way at the relationships between students and teachers, which is friendlier than in France. I became very close friends with students I met in those classes, and I spent a lot of my free time with them, too. Some of them even came to see me in France last year!

 What I learned most during my time in Okinawa was obviously the Japanese language. I learned to speak with my friends and Okinawan people about many subjects that I didn’t expect to understand or speak about when I first arrived on the island. Living in a strange country far away from my family and friends made me a stronger person, and I learned a lot about myself, too.

 I am now in a master’s degree program preparing to become a French teacher for foreign students, and I want to teach French in Japan someday. Will I be able to return to Okinawa? I really hope so!

Chloé Mornet
September 2018 to August 2019 Exchange Student from University of Rennes 2, France

OKIU and Me


I made up my mind to understand Japan’s culture, lifestyle, and way of thinking when I was in my second year of high school, just after I first started studying Japanese. And since the fastest way to understand another country’s way of thinking is to just go there, that’s what I did. When by chance I  ended up participating in a training program in Okinawa, I felt very attracted to this culture that somehow seemed unlike Japan, even while being part of Japan. So, when my training program finished, I immediately decided to study abroad at Okinawa International University.

As a one-year exchange student at OKIU, I could study Okinawan culture, the Kojiki (an ancient Japanese chronicle of myths, songs, and oral traditions) and other aspects of Japanese culture, and of course, the Japanese language. Based on my experience as an exchange student, I was able to get a job in Okinawa. I figured the best way to gain more insight into the Japanese language was to build up experience while living in a part of Japan not too far from my hometown. As an exchange student in 2018, I saw advertisements for an airline celebrating its 30th anniversary of flights from South Korea, and since I had originally hoped to get a job in the airline industry, that seemed like a great opportunity and a good omen.

Now I’m working for an airline and gaining experience every day. I love Okinawa. I’d like to spend a few years polishing my skills and gaining experience on this path I’ve chosen for myself.

Jo Sang Gwon
April 2018 to February 2019 Exchange Student from Hannam University, South Korea