Have you ever wondered why international students choose to come to Olomouc? Takuya Takayama, a Japanese student from Nippon Sport Science University, told us his reasons for spending a whole year at Palacký University and shared with us how this experience changed him. He says it even benefited his future career prospects. Read the interview with Takuya to find out more.
Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?
I had three reasons to go there. Firstly, Palacký University is a partner institution of my university, so it was easy for me to apply, and their lessons are in English, which could help me improve my English. Secondly, I wanted to study more about the field of adapted physical activity and Palacký University has many great teachers who specialize in this. And finally, it is easy and cheap to travel from Czech Republic to many European countries because it is in the centre of Europe.
Were your expectations different from the reality?
There is one thing I can think of, but this is not about Palacký University – it is about the weather. Before leaving Japan, I heard that Czech winter is very cold, so I brought some warm clothes for winter. However, the winter was fortunately not so cold. Actually, it was kind of warm, which surprised me.
Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?
The number of students who attend classes is different. Our university has some classes, where there is 100 students, so it is difficult to communicate with a professor but classes at Palacký University are not like that. There are not many people in the class, so it is easy to communicate. And I felt that Palacký University‘s professors are more friendly than ours. Maybe that is because I communicated with professors there more often than during my studies in Japan.
What was your favourite course and why?
Introduction to APA and English language are my favourite courses. Introduction to APA offered me several opportunities to get to know the adapted physical activities better. For instance, teaching swimming to children with disabilities and teaching Paralympic sports to local junior high school students were both experiences, which were very interesting but tough for me. I was a swimmer when I was in high school so I can teach swimming, but understanding a disabled child’s situation is not simple. I realized I have to study this field more deeply. During that time, I tried to do my best but thinking about it now I think I could have done more. Teaching Paralympic sports to local junior high school students presented another challenge for me. I could see that some students are interested in the subject, some are not and I felt the lack of my teaching ability, but overall I enjoyed that experience entirely.
English language course helped me improve my English – I especially liked conversation classes. In each class, we discussed different topics, so I could learn many things. In addition, I could get to know the perspective and situation of students from other countries. If you want to improve your English, you should definitely take it.
What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?
Making presentations in English was the biggest challenge for me, because my university exams are usually written tests, so I did not have the experience with presentations so much. Moreover, the presentations were not in Japanese, they were in English and that made me very nervous. At first, I compared my presentation to the others, but gradually I changed my mindset, stopped doing that and tried to focus on doing my best and enjoying it instead. Now I am happy I went through this experience.
How did you spend your free time?
Usually I went to the gym and worked out. Sometimes I went there with my friends and we worked out together. During weekends and long holidays, I went to trips with my friends. It is very easy to go to other countries by any transportation and it is very cheap. Looking back at it now, I miss those moments so much. I remember the first time I crossed the border by train and bus - it felt so weird, because Japan is not connected to any other country by boarders. For me, in order to travel to other countries I always had to take a plane, but now I got used to travelling by any transportation.
What is the single most memorable experience you have from your Erasmus life?
This question is a really difficult one. Probably travelling to Budapest in Hungary is the most memorable experience for me. After finishing the all exams, I went there with my friends. It is such a beautiful place. We visited many places like the castle, hot springs, etc. We were relaxed and had a great time there. I definitely want to go to Budapest again in the future.
Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?
I hope so. I think I became more independent, because during that time, I had to take care of myself all alone. Furthermore, my English level improved. After coming back to Japan, I took an online English test and the score was higher, which makes me more motivated to study English. Finally, my cooking skills became better. Sometimes we did a party in the dormitory, where many people brought their food. I ate other countries’ traditional meals and that gave me a lot of inspiration and ideas. Now I cook dinner every day.
How can this experience benefit your future career?
The presentations in English were good for my future career, I guess. I want to work in a company, where I would have an opportunity to work with people from other countries, which means I would have to speak English often. So before working in such company, I am very happy to go through this experience, which helped me prepare for that and helped me improve my English so much.
Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?
Absolutely yes, because the study exchange offered me so many good experiences that I may not have the chance to go through in Japan. And both the students, who came from various countries, and the teachers, who were in the classes, helped to broaden my mind. If it is possible in the future, I really want to go there again.
This experience is one of the best moments for me. Time flew when I studied there. If you want to enjoy studying and travelling, the Czech Republic is the best destination. Please do not miss out on such a great opportunity.