Testimonial from Li san!

We received a review from Li-san, Taiwan. It took time to translate to English…….

She put a lot of good information about life, food, expense in Fukoka, Japan.

Please read this review if you are wondering about Fukuoka’s life!!

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Before I went to Fukuoka and even after I got back to Taiwan, many people asked me: “why did you choose to go to Fukuoka?” I asked them: “why not?” Returning to Fukuoka after tours throughout Japan, I once again realized how good Fukuoka is. The followings are the reasons why I recommend people to come:

1. Food
You can either cook or eat out. There’s a small kitchen at where I lived, so I cooked for most of the time. There are 3 or more supermarkets around Tenjin and where I lived and one store even opens 24 hours a day, so shopping is convenient. “Daiei” is the closest to Tenjin. Although its supermarket only opens until 9 pm, there are sales on every Thursdays and Sundays. If you go an hour before it closes, prepared foods will be on sales,
too. Its meat department also has time limited sales. Sometimes, I shopped at “mina” –next to the supermarket- after school and the sales would start by the time I finished shopping. The other supermarket called “sunny” is closed to “Yakuin.” It opens 24 hours, so if you go home late, you can shop there. Another one is closed to “Watanabedoori” and its seafood is very fresh and it sometimes has seafood sales. I recommend you to go to all of them, so you can compare their prices. As for eating out, all I can say is that the 24 hour “hottomotto,” where you can get instantly made fresh food, is a savior. Other than that,
Fukuoka is the origin of “Tonkotsu Ramen.” There are 2~3 branches of the famous “Ichiran” and “Ippudou.” I first tried “Ichiran” in the basement floor of “Canal City” and it had ever since become a treat to myself during my stay in Japan. Of course, those two are not the only places where you can eat “Tonkotsu Ramen.” Almost every food stand in Fukuoka has it and let me tell you secretly, the food stands in Nagahama are cheaper than
the ones in Tenjin and near Canal City. So, if you like ramen, try different stores!

2. Shopping
There are the “Tenjin Underground”, “Canal City”, the newly built Hakata station, Hankyu Department Stores, and the stores in the bus terminal building and etc. You can spend a good half of a day on shopping at Hakata station itself. And if you walk along the big street in front of Hakata station, you  will end up in Nakasu area, where people enjoy night life and food stands open from evenings to early mornings. However, the prices are for “tourists,” so if you’d like to experience food stands, I’d recommend you to go to the ones in Nagahama. Although it is a bit further, the prices are reasonable.

If you walk toward the west from Tenjin, you will reach Daimyo area. It is even a better place for shopping. I couldn’t finish visiting every store in 2 months. Some stores sell Kyushu limited items. There are 3 department stores in Tenjin – Daimaru, Mituskoshi, Iwataya. “Mina” and “Parco” are also popular among girls. There are many drug stores, too. I often go to many of them after school to compare prices. If you are interested, you can contact me about it.

3. Housing
I lived in a weekly-rent apartment. Compare to student dormitories, the price is higher. But since I sleep late and would like to have my privacy and besides, my family was worrying about my safety, I chose to live in an apartment. The merits are: you get to have your privacy; there is a kitchen you can use; higher safety. The demerit is that you won’t have a roommate, so you can’t practice your Japanese. However, there is an office on the first floor of my apartment, so sometimes, I chatted with the apartment clerk, which made me feel like I was with my family. They even gave me a gift box before I went back to Taiwan.

4. Transportation
I rent a bicycle from the school. Basically, there are sidewalks everywhere and riding on sidewalks is pretty easy. There are coin parking spaces around 100 yen for you to park your bicycle almost everywhere if you look for it. There are patrols on the streets to give you warnings if park at a place where you are not supposed to (some of them are kind. They even lock your bicycle for you if you’ve forgotten to do so). If you park illegally, the
chances of being tow (especially near Mitsukoshi on Watanabedoori) would be pretty high on Mondays. An hourly rate parking behind the building near Tenjin Underground B6 Exit offers free parking for the first 2 hours. So, if you are around for a short time, it’s a convenient place to park. As for public transportation, there are trains, buses and subways. Personally, I don’t think it’s that convenient because there aren’t that many routes and there is not such a thing as loop line. Because of that, buses are more convenient whether for long or short distance. It only costs 100 yen between Hakata station and Tenjin. It is cheap compare to subways. You can also buy one day ticket for the subway, which costs 600 yen on weekdays and 500 yen on weekends. It will be worth it to get one, if you ride the subway 3 times or more on the same day. I sometimes used them on rainy weekends to
go shopping. The chances of you taking the JR line within Fukuoka city might be. However, Hakata station is the biggest station in Kyushu. It is convenient to use whether you are going to south Kyushu or Honshu.

5. Education

1) the reasons why I chose Wahaha
The prime reason is because the school has a Taiwanese staff. So, if there is any problem, I can communicate frankly with the school without having misunderstandings.
I didn’t want to go to a school with too many Chinese. It would defeat the meaning of coming to Japan. Kiki (the Taiwanese staff) told me that although most students are from Europe and America, there were 2 to 3 Taiwanese candidates at the time. Even though there were 2 to 3 Taiwanese, we might not be in the same class, so I thought the environment was good. Of course, I also looked into other schools.
However, either their homepages are too vague or their answers to my inquiries are too short andsimple. Often after the short answers, they would ask: “do you have any more questions,” which made me feel like I was wasting their time by asking too much. Kiki, on the other hand, not only answered my questions kindly, but also gave me a lot of related further references and help.
One of the best things is that the school sends out estimates just by clicking the courses and period on the website. It not only gave me an idea of how much the expense would be, but also gave me relief since I didn’t really know how to communicate with the school.
Kiki gave me a lot of objective advice and the merits and demerits of my choices. For example, she told me that although the apartment I chose was relatively far and doesn’t have a washer, it is cheaper. There are no hidden charges either. After my first estimate, we started to negotiate about the lesson contents, housing and etc. After everything has been decided, the school will send out the second estimate, which will be the last estimate. After I remitted the money, I didn’t have to pay any extra fees. So, I didn’t have to worry about any hidden charges during my stay in Japan. Therefore, I completely trust Kiki.

2) The lessons
On the first day, there was a simple evaluation and we started the lessons in the same afternoon. There were only 2 students in the class, so we had plenty of time to practice conversation. Since students’ Japanese level differs, sometimes the lessons seemed repetitive. But I am sure this happens in every school.

There are many teachers at WAHAHA and so far, I had lessons with 7 of them. Each teacher has a different teaching style. For example, some teachers emphasize the importance of pronunciation, some concentrate on the usage of particles. Others ask us to use “masu” and “desu” at the end of sentences. I personally felt that the grammar could be taught in a more organized way rather than following the order in the textbooks. Learning
similar expressions and compare their differences at the same time could lessen the chances of making mistakes. One good thing, I thought, was that the teacher selected supplementary teaching materials after finding out how my Japanese was. And those supplementary teaching materials were quite a fun, too. I’ve learned onomatopoeic words, how to say body organs, and slangs, etc. These are not things we can learn easily in Taiwan, so the supplementary materials are extremely useful.

3) Extra Curriculum Activities
It would be such a waste not to join them when you are here. I joined almost all the activities that I could and School sometimes offers free tickets, for example, I received tickets for baseball games and Kitajima Saburo’s concert. I felt that it would be even better if the school can add more cultural classes like the flower arrangement and Japanese traditional dance every week.

4) School Environment
School is in the center of Fukuoka city. If you walk from Tenjin, it takes about 15 minutes and if you walk from the subway Akasaka station, it only takes 5 minutes. It’s along a big road, so you don’t need to walk into any small streets. The building only has a dance school, a calligraphy school and WAHAHA itself, so there won’t be many strangers walking in and out. School is clean and the building has fire safety facilities and is under management.

5) Conclusion
Safety is the most important thing when you are abroad and the school takes the effort to make sure its students are safe, too. For example, when the school found out that we went to watch a baseball game by ourselves, Kiki actually called and made sure if we’d got there safe and sound without being lost. I felt that School really cared for us, unlike some other schools where they don’t care about their students after they received their tuition. Overall, I greatly recommend this school. You don’t have to go to big cities, like Osaka and Tokyo. Fukuoka gives you the same great study abroad experience.

6. Excitement
I really had a great time. After 26 years of my life, I finally went to a bar and it’s even in Japan. The school director took us there. She takes a great care of the students and would often invite her private friends to have dinners with us for the purpose of practicing Japanese and to make those dinners fun. Sometimes, she even asks her friends to take the students out for fun. This is something that helped us a lot because our places to make friends with Japanese were limited. Fukuoka is a busy and fun place, too. There are people on the streets even after 12 or 1 am. Once, I went to a bar with the teachers and had to walk
back home at night. I didn’t feel scared because there were many people on the streets.

I first went to Fukuoka in 2009 for a backpack trip. I planned my itinerary and organized things by myself at the time, so when I was here for the second time, I felt familiar. Also, because I personally don’t like big cities, I didn’t consider Osaka or Tokyo when choosing the place for my study abroad. Plus the fact that Fukuoka Airport is closed to the city, getting around is easy (whereas in Tokyo, you’d need to choose between Limousine buses or Narita Express). So, I’d made my choice to come study in Fukuoka since the beginning. After my backpack trip and the 2 month study abroad, I came to like this city a great deal
and recommend people who have never been to Fukuoka to come. I hope you will like this convenient, but at the same time, compassionate city.

Click here for Photo version!

 

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