Tokyo University of Foreign Studies Inter-University Exchange ProjectInnovative Africa: Educational Networking Programs for Human Resource Development in Africa’s SDGs (IAfP)

[Study in Japan Report] By Julia from SU

Julia VISSER our former exchange student from Stellenbosch University South Africa, who studied in Japan from September 2023 to February 2024 wrote an essay of her stay in Japan. Please check it out!!


My exchange experience at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
Supported by IAfP Fall 2023/2034

Coming to Japan has always been and felt like a vivid dream come true. Learning about the incredible and diverse institution that is TUFS and their established exchange agreement with my home university, Stellenbosch University, got me encouraged to do my best to apply. I had always thought that study exchanges at my institution were reserved for the wealthy few, mainly aimed for Europe and other western countries, and funding would be incredibly scarce. However, Dr Chihiro Kumashiro, on her 2nd visit to my institution, so kindly supported and encouraged my interest in Japan and TUFS, and assisted me in being nominated by Stellenbosch University to complete the exchange.

The wonderful staff of TUFS IAfP office as well as the student exchange division were pleasantly prompt and helpful in my preparations coming to Tokyo, and greatly supportive during my stay. When I arrived at TUFS, many opportunities and events were arranged by IAfP for us to meet other students from Africa, as well as students and staff from African area studies. I was so intrigued by the amazing work being done by the IAfP office and TUFS Africa. We even had a buddy system, wherein I met my wonderful friend Hana! She kindly accompanied me on many ventures and also helped me adjust to life at TUFS. I hope to see her again soon as an exchange student at my home university.


Furthermore, it was wonderful to be able to meet so many African nationals all the way here in Japan. I befriended students from Rwanda, Zambia, Ghana, Namibia and Nigeria for the first time. We enjoyed studying Japanese together and taking part in cultural exchanges. We hope to meet each other again soon, in Japan and Africa!

I took part in the course ‘Connect with Africa’ coordinated by Dr Kumashiro, wherein I learned more about current affairs taking place in Africa as well as gained understanding on Japan-Africa relations and how Africa is seen by outsiders. I also had the opportunity to share my perspective as a South African, and share elements of South African culture to students and friends. Opportunities in sharing about my country repeated, such as by visiting junior high schools to share presentations in English that aid English programmes as well as gives junior high students exposure to the world outside Japan. Being a representative of South Africa in Japan was a great honour and privilege, and I thoroughly enjoyed teaching others and sharing South African culture.


Another special experience includes the opportunity to join junior high school students on an English camp. English speaking foreigners are sought for many programmes similar to this. I participated in an English Camp in Iwai (Chiba countryside) where I taught English but also shared South Africa with the junior high students. Working with other foreign nationals in Tokyo, Japanese teachers, and especially the young students whom love to learn about foreign countries, is incredibly rewarding.


TUFS hosts many clubs and societies, and I decided to join the Women’s Football Team. I have always loved watching soccer and playing with friends when I was young, but never joined a women’s team before. The team was incredibly welcoming and we shared many fun experiences. I joined for training and even supported their matches. It was a great way to keep fit and work on my Japanese by conversing with my friendly team mates. Even though their English was limited (like my Japanese) they still welcomed me as if I were a long-term team member. Otskaresamadeshita, TUFSWFC!


The Exchange Division shared the Musashino International Association family exchange programme with international students. I happily applied and was able to meet my wonderful host family, Kabasawa family. They invited me to join on Japanese cultural events and share dinner, and I was so happy to show them around TUFS and enjoy Gaigosai. They have an interest in Africa and South Africa, and young boy, Taiki-chan, is learning English. I am grateful to have had the chance to experience a Japanese family and to play with Taiki!



I am very moved by the kindness and hospitality of my Japanese friends and family. My friend who is currently on exchange at Stellenbosch University, Hinano, introduced me to her family. The Kurebayashi family so kindly invited me to experience Shizuoka prefecture and visit their home. Herein I had the privilege of getting dressed in traditional furisode by obaachan, and visit a local shrine (having my late coming of age ceremony!). We visited the beautiful sites of Shizuoka and had a takoyaki party with friends.


TUFS offers so many interesting and important classes for international students to choose from, and in English. The courses I completed include Postwar Japan International Foreign Policy and Politics, a course on Japanese Architecture and Sustainability, Literature on Japan in Asia, Global Images of Japan, History of American Racism through Literature, and a Japanese Language Course on Oral Skills. My home faculty and department is Humanities, in Arts and Social Sciences. I successfully exchanged credits for my 2nd year majors of English Studies and History. My final degree will be a BA Humanities with majors in History and Visual Studies. TUFS also helped me learn and improve my Japanese level significantly. I took part in an online preparatory course hosted by the Japanese Language Centre, and also finished two weeks of the intensive course offered at the semester start. The rest of the semester I worked on the Oral Skills class with my colleagues from Africa. We had a special learning experience.

I am very grateful and fortunate to have received financial support and guidance from the Mitsubishi UFJ Trust Bank Scholarship. Mr Yasuhito Tominaga-san has been very kind and supportive since our first meeting at their office in Nihombashi, Tokyo. Student and alumni events were organised by the scholarship.


Coming to TUFS has greatly opened my eyes to not only Japan, but also to Africa, and to the rest of the world. I am inspired to work in the field of Japan-African relations, and hope to return to TUFS one day, possibly under the field of Peace of Conflict Studies (Masters). I am eternally grateful for this opportunity and the immense hospitality from Japanese friends and family; and to the support from TUFS IAfP, Mitsubishi UFJ Trust Scholarship, Stellenbosch University International, and my international friends and family.

Domo arigatou gozaimashita! Baie dankie! Enkosi kakhulu!



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