Liz Windett, class of ’10 studied at Kansai Gaidai University (KGU) in Hirakata, Japan, for a semester as part of a sister school agreement between Northland College and KGU. Now the Gift Coordinator at Northland College, she has had a front-row seat to greeting Japanese exchange students Hikari Komatsu and Ruri Nishino and introducing them to campus and to the region for the last year. Hikari and Ruri arrived in January and will be returning to Japan to continue their studies at KGU December 16.

When asked about a memory that stands out from this past year, Hikari and Ruri agreed—snow.

We asked Liz Windett about her memories from her Japanese semester nearly ten years ago.

Q. You’ve obviously enjoyed having Ruri and Hikari here on campus. 

A. Having Ruri and Hikari come here to my alma mater has given me the opportunity to give back to KGU and to all of my Japanese friends. It’s been a pleasure to show Ruri and Hikari around this region. I will miss my imouto (little sisters) dearly. 

Q. Do you keep in touch with the people you met in Japan?

A. Almost ten years later, my friends from KGU are still some of my closest friends.

Q. What classes did you take?      

A. I took five classes during my semester there: Spoken Japanese, Reading/Writing in Japanese, Japanese Buddhist Art History, Ethics: East and West, and Japanese Buddhism (Zen, Shingonshu, Jodo-shu, Jodo-shinshu, Nichiren-shu, etc.)

Q. What were your days like?

A.  I lived in a seminar house, where international students lived together if they did not live with a family. I would wake up, walk half-a-mile to campus, attend Japanese classes first, then other classes. Somewhere in the middle, I’d go to the cafeteria or Makudon’s (McDonald’s) which were both on campus, for lunch. I LOVED the cafeteria’s Chicken Katsudon and would order it almost every day. At Makudon’s, I’d get shaka-shaka chicken—I wish they had that at American McDonald’s! I would stay up as late as possible and go to karaoke or sit in the park with my friends every single night. I really tried to live it up while I was there, so it was four months of very little sleep J, and I had the time of my life, truly.

Q. Favorite classes?

A. Japanese language courses. Foreign language is my strongest subject. I am also good at Spanish and I studied Ojibwe for two years at Northland.

Q. Any advice for Northland students interested in pursuing a semester at KGU?

A. It’s a no-brainer. DO IT!!!!

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