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Exchange student

Exchange student

Exchange student

Natalie Koch, exchange student from University of Tubingen, Germany

I went back to Germany three days after the earthquake and I took a flight back to Japan on April 9. It wasn’t an easy decision to go back to Tokyo and my family and friends were telling me to stay in Germany. But in the end it was my decision to make and I decided for myself, that it was safe again to return.

I watched a lot of news, German and Japanese, and it was important not to panic and not to believe only one source. I had the feeling that the German news really tried to panic the people, but on the other side I felt that the Japanese media didn’t cover everything. After one month the situation didn't really improve, but I felt that it was safe for me to return to Tokyo.

Fukushima is not that far away from Tokyo, but far enough that I can live here without any fear and continue my study at Sophia University. To study in another country is a great opportunity and I didn’t want to throw that away, just because my parents were influenced by wrong information and overreacted.

I checked the news every day several times, the radiation levels in the air and in the water in Japan and, of course, especially in Tokyo, I talked to a lot of people and after I my return I’m still continuing that, but I can say I feel safe and it was the right decision to come back.

I don’t really notice a difference, since my return. Everybody is trying to reduce electricity in order to help Japan, which I'm trying too. Of course there are aftershocks, but now they don’t surprise me anymore.

Omar Alonso López Garcia, exchange student from UNAM, Mexico

I had already prepared everything thus I was planned to arrive on March, when the earthquake happened. News in Mexico were exaggerating at beginning in such point of calling this as "apocalyptic", scaring my family, and trying to convince me not to come.

Because news in all around the world were showing different perspectives of the problem, I decided to ask the advice of professionals and specialist in this matter so I talked to a Nuclear physicist from my university and UN, who told me that the situation wasn’t like the news were saying, but in some ways it was serious. So his advice for me was to take the opportunity of studying abroad and if things got worse just simply go back.

About the earthquakes and aftershocks, I wasn’t that worried about that, thus Tokyo is well known for its design for resisting earthquakes, in addition Mexico city is also a place where earthquakes are common.

My home university gave me the choice to decide whether I wanted to stay in Mexico, choose another university or still go to Japan.This has been the dream of my life and after working hard to get this opportunity, my decision remained the same.

When I arrived, I noticed that the city was not as vibrant as the first time I came, but in the end things got better. When classes started at Sophia, I got so into my studies and the people of my university made me feel so comfortable, that I soon forgot about the earthquake and radiation issues.

I've been in constant contact with my family and letting them know what's been happening all around. About the electricity savings, unfortunately made the semester to be reduced a little, but everyone is making an effort to reduce their electric consumption.

My experience in Japan has been very rewarding. At Sophia you can meet people from all over the world. In Tokyo I’ve found daily life to be attractive and interesting, making this an experience I will never forget. It has changed my perspective in many aspects of my life.

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