Bachelor of International Studies
Bachelor of International Studies

I am currently in my third year of a Bachelor of International Studies Program majoring in Japanese and history. I decided to take this course after high school because it included a compulsory exchange semester. I knew how important it was for me to improve my Japanese skills and experience a new way of life so I forced myself into a situation I knew I could not back away from. And I am glad that I have done it.

While in Japan, at Keio University in Tokyo, I took an intensive Japanese course that covered two textbooks of language and grammar in only three months. If you come to a country with the intention of learning a language, I recommend something similar to this despite the hard work and challenges. The program required Japanese language learners to come to university for three hours, five days a week and set over an hours’ worth of homework every night. It was different from my experience at UQ and actually reminded me of being back in high school. Everyone had to constantly participate during class and if all your work was not complete, you would be unable to pass the subject. The teachers expected a lot from the students, but as I learned about the Japanese way of life, they worked incredibly hard in helping us achieve our goals and giving us the best opportunity to do well. The course was incredible strict but rewarding in helping improve my Japanese.

Many people had told me before my exchange that I would make friends with either Japanese people or other exchange students, and unfortunately when I first arrived I thought this was the case. The only people I ever talked to or made friends with were other exchange students in my class and the dormitory I had chosen housed mainly exchange students as well. While this was great and I forged many lifelong friendships, I had not been able to immerse myself in the Japanese language to better make use of my exchange semester. So I decided to take a risk and I joined a sporting club at the University. Japan values hard work and trying ones best above all else, and clubs in Japan take this very seriously. I knew I would have my work cut out for me if I did join a club, but I was able to make friends with Japanese people and learn many things about Japanese language and culture.

I lived in a dormitory about fifty minutes away from campus so I got to experience the crush of Japanese people in the train almost every morning. Although if you decide to study in Tokyo experiencing busy trains is almost unavoidable. My dormitory supplied food, which I was thankful for because I did not have to spend the time and money cooking and worrying meals, and I could enjoy traditional Japanese food almost every day.

While I have mainly kept on track with my budget, I spent a lot more money every week here than I did back in Australia. Mainly the expenses are food and going out with friends, but there are also costs when you initially arrive that you do not think of back home. For example mirrors, cooking utensils, cleaning products and other things you can take for granted already being at home.

Top Tips
If you are ever in need to buy anything, and I mean anything at all, I would first go to Don Quixote. This store is located all around Japan and has items from food to shoes and even house hold appliances, and it is quite cheap.

Become a night person. Japan does not wake up until 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning.

And please travel a lot! While you have the opportunity and it is easy to do with friends.

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