Before I went on exchange, I had lived in Japan for many years so I thought I knew exactly what I was in for. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I wasn’t able to anticipate in the slightest what studying at a Japanese university, living in a compact dorm room by myself, and being involved in Japanese clubs would be like. I also didn’t foresee that most aspects of my exchange would not go as planned and would largely be the by-product of chance and luck. But it is through these experiences that I had one of the best years of my life in a country that is so technologically advanced as well as culturally rich.

As part of my Arts/Laws degree, I studied mainly law courses that were conducted in Japanese. This was a fantastic experience as it gave me a chance to interact with regular Japanese university students and develop my own language skills. However, almost all of my classes had 100% end of semester exams, which I initially found very challenging and overwhelming. But with the help of my Japanese friends and my wonderfully patient tutor, I managed to make it through my exam blocks.

One of the best aspects of my year in Japan was the accommodation. With a monthly rent of approximately $70, there is really nothing that I can complain about. The dormitory was located on Toyonaka campus with classrooms only a 5-minute walk away and the grounds only a 3-minute walk away. Although the rent was ridiculously cheap, I still found it necessary to find a small amount of part-time work to fund my growing fondness for karaoke and all-you-can-eat dessert restaurants (do not expect to lose weight in Japan). Finding work in Osaka is quite easy as there are so many people who want to take private English conversation lessons, which is a great way to earn money, meet people and usually get a free lunch/dinner!

My tips for going on exchange in Osaka are:

  • When travelling around Japan, talk to and get to know the locals. They are usually extremely friendly and may unexpectedly give you boxes of biscuits/candy.
  • Eat 餃子 (gyoza) at the chain restaurant 餃子の王将 (Gyouza no Osho) but do not order a lunch set (despite how small it may appear on the menu) and expect to finish it by yourself.
  • Climb Mount Fuji.
  • Do not be afraid to try new and seemingly bizarre foods. Some examples are: raw fish, sweet potato ice cream, pickled plum, salad flavoured biscuits, corn chocolate and baked curry.
  • No matter how hard you try to avoid the Japanese style toilet, you will inevitably have to use one at some point.


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