I spent my 11 months on exchange at Kobe University. Kobe is a pretty city that’s quiet enough to get around easily, but also close enough to other tourist areas like the cosmopolitan Osaka and traditional Kyoto.

I took a mix of Japanese language classes at the International Student Centre, as well as classes at the Intercultural Studies Faculty. Some of the Faculty classes were taught in English for Japanese and international students, and some were taught in Japanese for Japanese students.

I found the amount of contact hours a bit of a shock at first. In my first semester at Kobe, I took 12 courses, each with 90 minutes of contact hours. This meant classes every day, usually from 10:40am to 4:40pm (with breaks).

I had lots of opportunities to travel while I was on exchange, particularly during the two month summer break. Travelling overseas from Japan to places like Korea and Taiwan is very easy. It’s cheap to get there on a ferry or on budget airlines like Peach, and its cheaper to travel around these countries than Japan.

There are various options available including staying at a Kobe University dorm, a private dorm, homestay or a private apartment. I stayed at the Kobe University International Residence at Port Island, which is a Kobe University dorm. The rent is cheap and the parties are fun, but it's about 50 minutes away from the university.

I really enjoyed my time at Kobe, and would highly recommend it to anyone else who wants to go on exchange to Japan.

3 Top tips:

  • I would suggest spending time in the Intercultural Café, in the Intercultural Studies Faculty building. Despite the name, this is like a study room, where Japanese students and international students hang out. It’s a good way to meet friendly Japanese students who can be willing to help you out with assignments, and to socialise.
  • Jetstar and Peach Airlines are the two cheapest airlines for flights in Japan, as well as to neighbouring countries such as Korea and Taiwan. If you want a cheaper option for travelling long distances within Japan, try the night buses.
  • Get a part time job (baito). It’s a good opportunity to meet Japanese people outside of the university.


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