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EF Stories: Ayako from Japan at EF Paris

I was 28 years old when I left. I studied at EF Paris for 12 weeks and experienced local life with homestay.
EF Stories: Ayako from Japan at EF Paris

Q1: Why did you decide to study abroad?

A: When I was in my mid-20s, I thought about what I would regret not doing in my twenties 10 years from now, and living abroad came to my mind.

Q2: What made you choose EF?

A: My consultant said to me, "Why don't you consider working holidays as part of your career?'' Then I was able to get rid of the image that working holidays is just going out for fun, instead it can be serious and career driven.

Q3: What was your language proficiency level before and after studying abroad?

A: A1 before studying abroad, A2 at graduation.

Although I had learned the basics in Japan, taking French classes in French seemed like a tremendous improvement for me.

Q4: What preparations did you make before departure? Is there any information you wish you had known?

A: I took conversation lessons for a year. France requires a lot of documents for a visa, so it took time to do the research and preparation before applying.

Q5: Please tell us about the atmosphere in your class and the nationalities of your classmates.

A: There were less than 20 people in the class, who fall into a wide range of ages, with students in their teens to early 20s, making the class atmosphere very lively. Nationalities include Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Brazil, Denmark, Mexico, Venezuela, South Korea, and China.

Q6: Please tell us about your favorite friend or any memorable stories.

A: A Korean friend I made at EF helped me get a mobile phone contract, which I was very grateful for.

Q7: Please tell us about your stay and your housemates.

A: There were father, mother and two boys at middle / high school age. The older sister of the three siblings had gotten married and left home, but when she returned on vacation, she brought her young daughter with her, and she was attached to her child very much.

Q8: Please tell me how you spend your time after school.

A: There weather was quite pleasant during April to June, with long sunshine hours, so I walked around Paris. Since it was difficult to keep up with the lessons, I also used the time to prepare and review.

Q9: What do you think about EF's local supports (housing managers, job coordinators, etc.)?

A: Even though they couldn't speak the language well, they responded by trying to listen carefully.

Q10: After returning to your home country, please tell us about your experiences and skills that you feel are useful as a result of studying abroad.

A: Before studying abroad, I felt like my life was very far away from overseas as if there was a wall in between. Now, when I'm approached by a foreigner on the street, I think I can calmly deal with it even though I don't understand the language.

Moreover, before studying abroad, I tended to be very concerned about my appearance and other people's opinions, but after my overseas life where I realized how different values could exist, I started to think that it's okay to live a life for myself.

Q11: Is there any support provided by EF after returning to Japan?

A: Yes. There are 3-months English lessons for returnees, foreign-affiliated job exchange event, career change support packs and etc.

Q12: What do you find most interesting for the differences between Japan and France?

A: You'll get a frown in Japan if you accidentally step on someone else's foot on a crowded train, but in France they would just tell you "Don't worry about it.'' The most memorable thing was how kindly the person smiled at me. I was impressed by the culture of forgiving people for mistakes they made by chance.

Q13: Please let us know if you have any future goals or plans after returning.

A: In terms of language studies, I will continue studying French and start studying English again. I've always hated English, so I'm surprised that I'm even willing to try it again. I also started the hobby of making eraser stamps in France. I updated on Instagram about it every day and distributed handmade business cards to stores and people I knew. As a result, we received orders from restaurants, manicurists, florists and more. I also took on the challenge of holding workshops and was able to hold them three times in Paris. Although the target audience was Japanese, we had to deal with French locals to arrange the location, so it wasn't entirely easy for me. Now that I've returned to Japan, I'm thinking of holding workshops in Japan as well as selling online to overseas.

My current goal is to be able to hold workshops in both French and English. If I go to Paris, I want to grow my business by negotiating and holding workshops with both French and Japanese people.

Q14: Please give a message to those who are thinking of studying abroad.

A: To be honest, I didn't really improve my language skills in just one year. However, I think that my mindset has changed considerably thanks to studying abroad. I learned to be proactive about communicating with foreigners even if I didn't understand their language, and I gained the courage to travel to other countries. Even with Japanese people living locally, I was able to connect with people I would not have met in Japan (in my case, chefs, sommeliers, florists, photographers, etc.), and I was able to have a lot of experiences and connections. If you are unsure, please imagine yourself 10 years from now on and think about the choice you will not regret. In my case, I'm glad I went, and now I think you should go as well.

Photos from a class when we made a parody movie of Titanic.

One a nice day, we visited the Jardin des Tuileries, where the Louvre Museum is located.

After school, I often took a walk home. The double cherry blossoms in front of the church were beautiful around April.

On the last day of school with my teacher Elodie. She was kind and enthusiastic about her lessons, and was my favorite teacher.

Dinner at homestay.

Paris City Hall. It was beautiful during the day, but I really liked the way it was lit up after sunset.

I went to Disneyland Paris with my Korean friends I made at EF. We both speak French.

I was invited to the Champagne region by a Japanese friend.

We were supporting the costume marathon. Apparently there's champagne at the water station. Lots of Luigi!

Lecture on eraser stamps at a Japanese-French language exchange meeting. Engraving the event name “Tea Ceremony” on the spot.

Sagrada Familia in Spain, - 2 hours by plane from Paris. I traveled to 7 countries during working holiday.

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