An Exchange Student In Tokyo 外国人留学生にインタビュー、日本人の変なところとは

(Japanese version follows after English)


Tokyo. The capital of Japan and more than 10 million people live their lives in this hectic city. Since the number of tourists has been increasing year by year due to Tokyo Olympics 2020, it has been constantly internationalized and something new or unique comes out on a daily basis. We basically have payed attention to Japanese students who pursued their own dreams offshore and published web-articles about them so that more Japanese young people could be inspired or stimulated from them and given a courage to do challenging things.

But this time we had an interview with two exchange students from Europe. Things that we, Japanese don’t notice turned out from their own perspectives.


Cyrielle Torta: Born in Laon, France in 1995. Started studying at University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès(hereinafter, referred to as “UT2J”) and moved to Tokyo to study at Chuo University since September in 2016. Dance lover.
Nicola Zanetti: Born in Faido, Switzerland in 1991. Started studying at University of Geneva(hereinafter “UNIGE”) and moved to Tokyo for the same reason as Cyrielle’s. Enthusiast of Calligraphy and Chess.

-What do you study in the college and what made you have sort of interests in Japan?

Cyrielle: Of course I currently study Japanese at Chuo but I took Japanese class 2 or 3 hours in a week in highschool back in France and then I enrolled UT2J to learn literature. Well, as everybody knows, Japanese anime has been out on TV worldwide so I watched them like Sailor Moon(セーラームーン) and Magical Doremi(おジャ魔女どれみ) when I was a kid. I also listen to Japanese songs.

The more I got closer to Japanese pop-culture, the more deeper I felt I was obsessed with it. After my interests in Japan began with pop-culture, I became a big fan of Haruki Murakami(known as a famous Japanese novelist in the world). His novels got me more deeper into Japan for sure. I love the beauty of Japanese language too!

Hanging out with Japanese friends on the beach. ビーチで日本人の友達と遊んだ時の一枚。

Nicola: My major is Japanese and Chinese but I have studied Japanese on my own since I was 14 using the paper dictionary and internet. I really got fascinated by Japanese words, pronunciation and whatever related to that language while I studied it. Needless to say, Japanese video games are awesome and exciting.

I played it so often. But there is another reason why I really get into Japan. It’s beautiful sounds of Japanese words. I know Japanese people probably can not understand  what I mean and I can not explain it well either. But one thing I can say for sure is Japanese words sound just beautiful somehow for me. This is off topic, but “Neko(means cat in Japanese)” sounds similar to my name “Nico” and that might be one of reasons why I move to Japan now. Who knows?

-Why did you choose Chuo?

Cyrielle: To be honest with you, I wanted to study in Kyoto(old capital city and quite traditional) but unfortunately I could not fill the academic requirements to study there so I started looking for another way and then I found the academic course and exchange program with Chuo that fitted in my major. Lucky me, UT2J has the partnership with Chuo so the tuition is cheap and scholarship system is enriched compared to the other cases I study in Japan through other private agencies.

There is a selection like an interview or judging by academic score because it’s an exchange program. When I was in the interview, I was a little bit nervous but I could manage to answer the question in Japanese. Now I’m here in Chuo. I’m really happy to be here because I met so many nice people and they’re very pleasant as well. I also have fun in classes and love the environment of this university!

Japanese text books. 日本語クラスの教科書。

-How is your school and private life in Tokyo?

Nicola: Basically classes are not so hard for me because I have leaned it on my own but I’m sure they get my Japanese skill more advanced and I recognize I can brush up my Japanese day by day. In this semester, I take classes of Chinese, Japanese, Japanese literature and Japanese culture which puts focus on specially Japanese spirituality and shinto tradition.

It’s sort of weird that I learn Chinese in Japanese but it’s absolutely fun for me. So I go to university 4 days in a week. When school or class is off, I enjoy my private time, going to the bar or restaurant where I can talk with people and on a short trip to Kamakura and Nikko which are nearby Tokyo with my friends. Since Tokyo is a quite urban and developed city, you can hang out wherever you go and have some fun.

Drinking party at Izakaya. 居酒屋での飲み会。

-What do you think of Japanese college students?

Cyrielle: At least my university back in France there are a few student’s clubs on campus but here in Japan is totally different. There are so many student organizations and they run them by themselves on a daily basis. For example, I know almost all universities have English clubs that aim to practice English with others and one impressive thing is they teach English each other.

They decide the sophisticated studying curriculum and implement it properly without teachers. I think Japanese students are very independent and have high standard of willingness on whatever they do.

I’ve known about Japanese people’s general personalities and I respect them of course. But I sometimes get confused when I ask something to Japanese people because they are so indecisive and they’re reluctant to tell me their true feelings. If you want to turn down my offer, you can do it and I don’t care about that because it is totally okay! But I guess they think answering “yes or no” sounds too direct, non-filter and impolite somehow. That is the fact I think is very different and interesting.

I have one more weird feeling about Japanese people. As you know, everybody in western countries hugs as greetings or touches friend’s body with not that much hesitation while hanging out. But I think Japanese people are not likely to do it even when they drink at Izakaya(Japanese-Style bar). That might have been a culture shock for me.

-What do you think of transportation system in Tokyo?

Nicola: It is just amazing and I can’t believe how they punctually run it. All trains pull into the platform on time and people wait in the cue in a good manner to get in the train. At first I was so confused to use trains but if you have a map you can go everywhere in Tokyo with cheaper tickets(at least they are a bit cheaper than in Switzerland).

Only in rush hours, you definitely see so many  passengers jostle each other and a station attendant push passengers’ back to squeeze them into the train. You should join that crowd and do physical training in the train just as an experience at least one time. I’m just kidding.

-Any advice for students who want to study in Japan?

Cyrielle: Just study and learn as many Japanese cultures as you can in advance so that you can blend in the new environment immediately. Knowledge about Japanese educational systems would be helpful for you too when you start studying in Japan.

Nico: Language practice. That’s it. Even outside of Japan, you could meet Japanese exchange students or join some events that you could learning Japanese and whatever relevant to that country. All your efforts to study in Japan will pay off. I proved it in my life.

以下、日本語訳(Japanese version is below)


Cyrielle Torta・・・フランス、ラン、1995年生まれ。University Toulouse – Jean Jaurès(以下UT2J)へ入学後、東京の中央大学へ2016年9月から交換留学中。趣味はダンス。

Nicola Zanetti・・・1991年、スイスのファイドに生まれる。University of Geneva(以下UNIGE)へ入学後東京へCyrielleと同様な形で来日。書道とチェスにハマり中。
























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