My experiences during the first year at university

Now that the freshmen have arrived, I thought I could write an update concerning my university life. I have been studying Japanese and Information Science at university for one year now. I certainly enjoy my life in Düsseldorf, more than I have in Schwenningen. In a big city you always have something to see, something new to discover. During my time in Freiburg last month, while looking through Instagram, I discovered a Japanese café and some Japanese restaurants I haven’t been to before. I hope I can check out those places with my friends soon.

So what have I done this whole year?

This one year has gone by really fast. You will be so busy, you won’t be able to keep up with time. I studied Japanese, did the homework, learned new grammar, tried to remember new vocabulary and Kanji every week, while trying not to neglect my other subject, Information Science, which was a bit difficult. I was so happy that Japanese was finally my main subject. I could concentrate on studying Japanese without feeling guilty. Thanks to all the Japanese restaurants and supermarkets, my friends and I have a lot of opportunities to try out Japanese food. Sometimes we tend to go to the Immermannstraße too often.

The first semester

The first week of Japanese was really easy for me since I have been studying Japanese on and off since 2009. The teachers offer the opportunity to take a test before the semester begins and depending on how well you did on that test, you are allowed to skip the first weeks or months of Japanese lessons. I didn’t participate in that test because I wanted to study everything from the beginning again and that was a good decision. We work in groups or in pairs very often during the language lessons. By being there from the very beginning, you can get used to the routine early and you will get to know your teachers, classmates and you can make new friends.

During the first two weeks you will learn Hiragana and Katakana. You certainly should keep up with studying during that time, otherwise you will face some difficulties later. I have already practiced writing Hiragana and Katakana in 2009. I thought that I was experienced enough. So I was really surprised when I got my homework back and a lot of characters were corrected in red. The teachers are very strict in the beginning concerning the way of your writing. Even if a stroke is too short by only one millimeter, they will correct it. However, if you work hard, I am sure you will have a good time. Even though they may seem strict at the beginning, the teachers are really nice and fun.

You have to do your homework, write your essays and hand them in regularly. There is a chance, that, when you haven’t hand in all of your homework by the end of the semester, you won’t be allowed to take the final exam.

By making sure that I remembered all the new vocabulary, new grammar and new kanji for the new week, I have certainly neglected Information Science. It is a little bit regrettable, but I got the grades in Japanese that I wanted and that was more important to me than Information Science, since you need good Japanese grades to have a chance when you want to apply for a semester abroad. At the end of the first semester, I only took the Japanese exam. I couldn’t take the MRG-exam yet, because I haven’t attended the history lessons yet. I regretted that so much, because I didn’t know that there will be a big Information Science exam at the end of the second semester. If I had known that I would have taken the MRG-exam at the end of the first semester.

The second semester

The second semester got even busier because of Information Science. We were offered the opportunity to learn the subject through something similar to an online RPG. Of course with questions about everything we have learned during the lectures. It took a lot of time to keep up with that kind of project. Every second week we had to prepare an assignment as a group and that was also time-consuming. I even worked on it during the weekends, so that I even neglected Japanese.

That can get a bit problematic during the lessons, if you haven’t remembered all of your vocabulary yet. The vocabulary doubled during the second semester, you really have to work hard and learn your vocabulary to keep up during the lessons. While we just went through one chapter a week during the first semester, during the second semester, we finished two chapters by the end of the week.

There was so much to do that I didn’t even notice when the semester ended and the period of studying for the exams began. I had to take three exams this time. The first exam was the Japanese exam, the second one was MRG and the third was information science. Unfortunately MRG was one day before Information Science. That didn’t go well. During the weeks before the language exam, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else except for Japanese. When the first exam was finished, I had one week to study for MRG and information science. I decided to sacrifice all the time I had left for MRG, because it was more important to me. This way I will have at least one exam result I could be satisfied with. For one week I only slept when it was really necessary. Thanks to the teachers, the students get a list of all the questions that will be asked during the MRG exam. Months before the exam, as soon as the second semester started, my friends and me worked together to answer all of the questions. Before the exam, the only thing that was left was to memorize everything. I downloaded the app “AnkiDroid” and typed in every question and answer and studied one week-long. I think I went a bit mad during that period. However I was rewarded with a result I could be happy with.

During the second semester we also went out quite often. Our favorite thing to do, when we meet, is cooking, eating or both. We like to try out new food and check out the restaurants.

So even though there is a lot to do for university, it is nice to have some leisure time once in a while.

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