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Environment for Learning Not Only Cooking Skills but Cooks' Heart and Culture

Lee Tae-Hyeon from South Koreain the first year of 2-year Culinary Course

Why did you choose Nakamura?
My family runs a restaurant and I grew up seeing my dad working there, so it was natural for me to go to a cooking school. First, studying abroad was not my idea so I attended Nakamura Academy in Seoul, but my seniors and teachers recommended I go overseas, and that changed my mind. When I visited Fukuoka for the first time on the academy study trip, I visited not only the school but the restaurants of the special lecturers. Attracted by the classroom lessons and the teachers' character and zeal, I finally decided to study in Japan. I immediately created a presentation to appeal to my Dad about Nakamura's attractions to my dad, and began studying Japanese.
How is your life in Fukuoka?
All Japanese students were very kind and I quickly got used to life here. I studied at a language school before entering Nakamura, but I learned Japanese quicker by chatting with people than attending classes and doing homework as I like talking with people. Now I spend more time with my Japanese friends than other international students.
The only misjudgment I made is the climate in Fukuoka. It was autumn when I visited Fukuoka for the school trip and I somehow assumed such comfortable temperatures would continue all year. Of course, there are four seasons, and winter is cold while summer is hot. Kyushu is located in the south of Japan, but there are snowy days during winter. Don't forget to bring clothes for all seasons.
What is your impression of classes and student life at Nakamura?
Of course the curriculum has practice on cooking skills but it also provides classroom lessons on hygiene management and food culture. For example, the lecture on food bacteria were very practical and I thought, "I could apply that to my family restaurant" as the regulations on restaurant hygienic control are becoming stricter recently in South Korea as well.
I was impressed with the lectures on the history and culture of Western food which deeply discussed the differences in the cuisines in various European nations. It is very stimulating to learn new things and I always concentrate on the lectures.
I am learning a lot outside the school as well, such as checking recipes at home or trying different Japanese restaurants with friends. Fukuoka is a functional urban area and also rich in food culture as the products from both mountains and seas are gathered from all over Kyushu.
Are you doing a part-time job?
I am working at a well-known kaiseki restaurant in Fukuoka. I asked my teacher to introduce me there. Since it is a prestigious restaurant also used for wedding ceremonies or Buddhist memorial services, rare marine products or expensive materials are often used, and I am learning so much from that. Japanese cuisine chefs prepare each material very meticulously and delicately. They also pay attention to seasonal backgrounds and tableware, and serve the dishes in such an elegant manner.
I think it is important for a cook not only to learn the recipes and cooking skills but also to know the background and culture in which the dishes originated. For this reason too, it is a fine experience for me to work at a famous restaurant in Fukuoka and observe the work of the cooking professionals.
Did you experience any difficulties or troubles as an international student?
Most of the Japanese students enter Nakamura straight after graduating from high schools, but many of the international students have graduated from university or experienced working in a company in their country before attending Nakamura. In other words, those adults lead a school life once again with minors. There is a gap between the lifestyles of these two groups such as dress rules.
Personally I think such rules and other differences are part of Japanese culture. The same can be said about any country, but if you positively accept the gaps between different cultures and generations you will lead an enjoyable and fruitful study-abroad life.
Tell us your future dream.
Nakamura offers training in Japanese, Western and Chinese cuisines, and I particularly pursued the study on Japanese cuisine. I studied Japanese cuisine also in the Academy in Seoul, and now I work part-time at a Japanese restaurant. In view of such background, I wish to do work involving Japanese dishes in the future. But in my family, dad is running a traditional South Korean restaurant and my older brother is managing a Korean barbeque restaurant, so they may be expecting me to work with them. About my future, I will need to have a thorough discussion with the family later.

The encounter with my teacher and recipes and beliefs she taught me changed my life. They are my lifetime treasure.

Ren Guangyuan from Chinain 1-year Bread Baking Course

Why did you choose Nakamura?
The reason why I chose studying overseas is that Japan is an advanced country in Asia and I wanted to receive high-level education.
I came to know Nakamura as I checked schools in Japan on the Internet. It is a school with history which has produced over 10,000 graduates, among whom are top professionals including some Michelin-awarded chefs. These records were the decision-making factors.
After arriving in Fukuoka, I spent one year attending a language school first, and then I entered 2-year Pastry Course of Nakamura. I also wanted to study bread baking, so after graduating the 2-year Pastry Course, I re-entered 1-year Bread Baking Course and continued my study.
How is your life in Fukuoka?
I am living alone close to the school, and it has been 4 years living in Fukuoka including the year attending the language school. I am completely used to life here. On holidays I visit bakeries and patisseries with school friends, and sometimes I travel to various places in Japan. I have been to Tokyo, Kyoto, Kumamoto, etc. and all of those trips are good memories.
When I decided to study abroad, I had no advance knowledge about Fukuoka, but it is a very nice, livable city, so I feel happy to have come here.
The people in Fukuoka are very warm-hearted and the teachers are kind, too. When I graduated from the 2-year Pastry Course, the teachers sincerely discussed with me about my future, so that I could smoothly decide to reenter the 1-year Bread Baking Course.
What is your impression of classes and student life at Nakamura?
Nakamura offers education on each course thoroughly from the basics. The faculty is made up of professionals who are leading the industry. The special lecturers working as the best chefs in a variety of fields visit from all over Japan to directly provide instruction and training. The teacher I admire the most is the chef of the most well-known bakery in Fukuoka, the first Japanese female who won the championship in a certain bread making competition in France. When she makes a baguette, she doesn't knead the dough but patiently ferments it at low temperatures to bring out the best of the material. She taught me a number of quite important things. What gave me the biggest impact is the method of baguette making which has been handed down from the 1960's. I will cherish this recipe for the rest of my life.
Are you doing a part-time job?
I am working part-time at the bakery of the special lecturer chef I mentioned earlier. I requested it myself as I really wanted to see how she works in her own shop. She is currently working at a new bakery in France, so I cannot see her often, but looking at the bread and recipes she left at the shop here, I can feel her passion. I came to Fukuoka to study at Nakamura, and because of that, I was able to meet her. I have been able to work in her shop because I came over to Fukuoka. I am very fortunate and thankful for this encounter. I appreciate this chance that I have been given.
Did you experience any difficulties or troubles as an international student?
First of all, I think it is the language barrier which is experienced by all international students in the beginning. All classes are given in Japanese and you have to submit all reports in Japanese as well. Now, I have got used to it as I can make my dentist appointments on the phone and communicate with my seniors at the workplace in Japanese, but in the beginning, it took me a lot of time simply to complete one report.
I have only one regret, that is, I didn't participate in the Confectionery Course competition. I was very busy every day with the classes and Japanese study, so I didn't have time for creating a work to present to the competition. I strongly recommend those international students who are planning to study here to set aside time for participating in it. It is a rare experience and a fine study opportunity including the process leading to the competition.
Tell us your future dream.
I would like to work as a chef who can make both sweets and bread. The chef whom I deeply respect was not satisfied with her accomplishments after winning in the bread competition in France. She "wanted to give it a try to prove her own skills in the home ground," thus moved to France and she made her dream of having a shop there come true. I respect her for such a way of life and other things. My goal is to be a person like the chef. I will return to China once after graduation, but I will never forget what I learned from her. I will passionately pursue my dream.

The first prize winner in the largest Western confectionery competition in Japan! My dream is to have my own shop one day

Lee Zhiying from Taiwanin the 1-year Pastry Course

Why did you choose Nakamura?
After graduating from a university in Taiwan, I began working for a company, but I wanted to enjoy a career in the world of confectionery, my favorite, so I decided to study abroad. Traditional Japanese confectioneries have fans all over the world, and a number of Japanese pastry chefs are having success overseas. Additionally, the high level of Japanese confectionery techniques is widely known. I also had studied Japanese in the university, so I didn't have so much concern about the language.
I attended the briefings for studying abroad at several schools, and I gave a careful consideration to the budgeting as I once experienced living on my own. The tuition of Nakamura was attractive, and I appreciated having a one-year course wherein I can study confectionery intensively.
How is your life in Fukuoka?
Fukuoka is a very comfortable city to live in. Being the largest city in Kyushu, there are many conveniences and places to enjoy yourself. Despite that, the rent and living cost are not as high as Tokyo or Osaka. On holidays, I visit Japanese confectionery shops with friends, but now I concentrate on studying instead of entertainment. In order to learn confectionery in such a short time as one year, there are many things to do. As the practice rooms are open in the morning and after school, I go there to review the things I didn't quite understand or create work for competitions. Every day I go to school and study hard while cutting down on my time for sleep, but I could successfully pass the graduation exam in January.
What is your impression of classes and student life at Nakamura?
I find the school life stimulating due to the full curriculum including cooking practice sessions and classes on confectionery making theories, as well as opportunities to participate in competitions and other events. I took part in the student section of the "Japan Cake Show Tokyo" held in October. I won the bronze prize in the marzipan category. I was the first prize winner of the 1-year course students, and the teachers congratulated my accomplishment.
My competition work theme was "Oshogatsu (new year period)." To give the work Taiwanese flavor, I had the dolls carry traditional musical instruments of Taiwan. I also decorated it with a lot of musical band members and animals to create a lively atmosphere. I am happy about the prize, but the time I spent for the preparation was also an equally happy memory. I repeatedly revised and polished the design drawings and basic techniques, and the teacher gave me advice each time. It was a fine learning and creation experience.
Are you doing a part-time job?
I am working in the central kitchen of one well-known confectionery shop which also has a basement shop in department stores. I applied for it as the location was near my home. A surprisingly large quantity of cakes are produced there and delivered to each shop every day. We never engage in such mass production in school classes, so it is a precious experience.
I didn't have any worries about deciding the workplace on my own without using the school introduction. Anyone has certain concern when starting a new thing or moving into a new surrounding, but in my case I feel more excitement than misgiving. That's because I think new encounters and experiences will help me grow more. Studying abroad gave me not only learning at school but experiencing what is new to me.
Did you experience any difficulties or troubles as an international student?
Naturally I'm not timid and take things positively. I once lived in Australia on a working holiday visa, so I didn’t feel hesitant about living abroad alone. I think we can enjoy living a fulfilled daily life if we have a positive attitude to learn things spontaneously instead of viewing things passively.
I received a lot of instruction from a number of teachers when working on my competition project. There were no extra classes for the contestants. I often visited the practice rooms during the free time and asked the teachers questions freely. I think it is important to take the initiative in speaking to people in classroom or elsewhere to make friends.
Tell us your future dream.
My dream is to be a pastry chef and have my own shop. No matter how much you are tired, you feel happy if you enjoy tasty sweets, right? I want to make people feel happy just like that with the sweets I make. For this reason, first I need to have many experiences at various shops. Australia where I lived on a working holiday visa is one of my favorite countries which I want to visit again in the future, and it may be a good idea to open a shop there. My dream keeps expanding.