From Tokyo to Lüneburg for a semester: Students from Japan's Hōsei University share their experiences

2023-03-22 From February to September, 13 students from Hōsei University in Tokyo have been at Leuphana for a semester abroad. Ryo Azuma and Hiroto Fukushima talk about their impressions.

Gruppenfoto der japanischen Programmstudierenden ©Dr. Annett Röper-Steinhauer
The student group during a tour to the Humboldt Forum Berlin.

"Here in Germany, everything works a little differently than in Japan," Ryo Azuma and Hiroto Fukushima think. They are sitting in the "Klippo" in the central building, among many other students who meet here to chat, study or drink a coffee in peace. The two 21-year-olds talk about their experiences and impressions as Japanese study abroad program students who have traveled from vibrant Tokyo to tranquil Lüneburg for six months. How did it come about? For Ryo and Hiroto, it is a semester abroad that they are doing as part of their studies. Both are studying intercultural communication at Hōsei University in Japan. Through its cooperation with Leuphana, 13 Japanese students have been in Lüneburg for a semester since last fall. The study abroad program has been in place since 2019, and after a pandemic-related break, students from Tokyo were finally able to come to Lüneburg again at the end of 2022. One advantage: "Here in the north, there is hardly any German dialect, which makes it easier for us to learn the language," Ryo and Hiroto explain. Both are currently attending the B1 German course at Leuphana.

For Hiroto Fukushima it is the first time in Germany, Ryo Azuma was already here once during his school years. He visited Germany then as part of a program in which students had the opportunity to educate the world about the Fukushima nuclear disaster. That exchange was four years ago. "I was born in the Fukushima prefactor, and at that time I talked to other students about my experiences," the now 21-year-old says. Ryo is in his third year of study and thus a "junior" at his university, while Hiroto is in his second year and thus considered a "sophomore." The system at Japanese universities is more like that in the U.S., both explain. In addition to the language course, the current semester's program for the Japanese students included seminars on German culture and society, as well as on the reception of Japanese art and culture in Germany. Moreover, the students had the opportunity to freely choose further modules in the complementary studies.

In the past six months, Ryo and Hiroto have experienced a lot - with apl. Prof. Werner Preuß the group has followed in the footsteps of Lüneburg's history. A seminar in the Complementary Studies, which is is led by Dr. Annett Röper-Steinhauer, involved both program students from Japan and regular students from Leuphana. Together, the group visited the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg and held a joint tea ceremony there, and toured the Humboldt Forum Berlin. As part of the language and orientation program, the Japanese students spent an entire weekend in the German capital, where among other places, they visited the Bundestag and the Jewish Museum. With Hendrik Janssen, who studies at Leuphana and works as a student assistant in the International Office, the group took a trip to Bremen to the Kunsthalle and the medieval Christmas market. He was there to support the program students throughout their entire stay.

Hiroto and Ryo learned a lot in Lüneburg, especially about themselves: "I love traveling and would like to see a lot of the world in the future," says Ryo. Nevertheless, he has determined that he would like to live and work in Japan in the long term. For Hiroto, it's a little different: He would like to do another master's degree after his bachelor's degree - abroad. "It's not my first semester abroad; I've already been to Norway for half a year during school," he says. "In Japan, most people start working right after they finish their bachelor's degree, but I'd like to do another degree and I find traveling broadens my perspective. Therefore, I hope to get the opportunity to study abroad."

Weitere Informationen

The next group from Hōsei University will arrive in September 2023. Leuphana students who would like to volunteer as a buddy or are interested in a language tandem can contact Anja Stegert.


  • Anja Stegert, M.A.