21-year-old Kento Maehara can’t get enough of Canada! In the past two years, Maehara has travelled to Canada three times to improve his English and now he is here for a year.
After participating in two short term summer English programs in Vancouver and staying with a homestay family, Maehara knew he wanted to return to spend a year abroad in Canada. In the fall, he returned to his university in Japan anxiously looking for opportunities to enhance his English in Canada.
When he found out that his university, Gifu Shotoku-Gakuen, and Mount Royal University had a partnership, he immediately applied. As a Foreign Languages student majoring in English and German, Maehara not only had an opportunity to study abroad and receive credit for his English courses, but was able to apply for a scholarship that would help him with his tuition.
As a successful scholarship recipient, Maehara, travelled with 14 other students from Gifu Shotoku-Gakuen University at the beginning of April to start studying English in the Languages Institute at Mount Royal University. Throughout the year, Maehara hopes to work on his pronunciation so that he will be able to speak with more confidence and truly experience Canadian culture.
Already captivated by the diversity of Canadians, Maehara says that he has already met many new friends from around the world. “I have met many friends from Mexico, Venezuela, Korea and Japan.”
Although Maehara had visited the west coast before, he says that Calgary has a very distinct culture and that he is looking forward to experiencing all the seasons, including winter!
“I love to ski, so I am excited to go to the mountains,” smiles Maehara. He has already planned to head out to the mountains on the Rocky Mountain Day Trip organized by the Office of International Education in May with his new friends.
But beyond the classroom, Maehara has had the chance to experience Canadian culture in Calgary while living with his homestay family. “My family is amazing,” says Maehara, who felt welcomed into the family from the first day. “I have become good friends with the 19-year-old son. He shows me around Calgary and we play video games together,” says Maehara.
Maehara and another six Gifu students will be continuing their studies for a year while the others will experience the western spirit throughout the summer and will return to Japan in August.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of partnership between Mount Royal and Gifu Shotoku-Gakuen University and the Office of International Education is currently planning a special event to celebrate this landmark.
- Andrea Morrow, May 15, 2012