I just finished the final year of my three- year Bachelor of Arts degree in Tokyo, Japan. At UQ I was undertaking an extended major in Japanese. Therefore during my time at ICU I was able to focus on the Japanese language courses offered. ICU’s ‘JLP’ (Japanese language program) is (based on what I have heard) world-class, and I was very impressed with the progress with the language made not only by myself, but every student in the program thanks to the structure and intensity of the courses. In addition to this I had to take a limited number of electives to satisfy credit requirements. These were in English and very easy.

I lived on campus at the dormitory called ‘Global House’, which had about sixty residents in total (thirty girls and thirty boys). There was roughly an even number of foreigners and Japanese in global house. Within the dorm, I shared a unit with three other guys including two Japanese and a German. I was close with my flat mates and managed to make friends from all over the world thanks to living in global house. It’s a truly open and international atmosphere so I think that wherever you come from and whatever language you speak, you’ll be very comfortable in Global house.

Outside of university life, I had a range of fun and varied experiences. Tokyo is a city of endless opportunities (including opportunities for fun!). I enjoyed going to Tokyo’s bars, nightclubs (Tokyo’s ‘Ageha’ is the biggest club in asia I heard) and restaurants. I think the food in Japan is awesome and I’m sure there’s something for just about everyone. I had the chance to earn some money doing some part-time work as well, teaching English to Japanese kids at a language school.

I also got a chance to do some modeling (By far the easiest money I’ve ever made in my life!). A friend I made in Tokyo with connections in the modeling industry happened to be looking for foreign guys to do a few photo shoots and I was fortunate enough to be selected. So in the end I got to see my own face on pages of magazines in convenience stores throughout Tokyo! Why did I include this story here? Because apparently I’m cool enough to be a model in Tokyo and I just wanted to tell the whole world how amazing that feels… Just kidding (not entirely kidding, it does actually feel pretty good). But the main reason I included this story is to make the point that when you’re in a city as big as Tokyo the opportunities are limitless! I’ve never done any modeling in Brisbane and doubt I ever will be able to, but in Tokyo I was lucky enough to have that fun and random experience. So be open- minded and make the most of what Tokyo has to offer!

 

 


5 Top Tips

  • Learn to cook for yourself and shop around to find the cheapest ingredients. Tokyo is expensive and buying cheaper items adds up to a lot of savings in the long-term (even thousands of dollars over the course of a whole year).
  • Study, but don’t just limit yourself to studying. You can study in Brisbane, but you’ll only be in Tokyo for the one year, so try everything Tokyo has to offer!
  • Use Japanese as much as possible, immersion is a great way to learn a language, and since you’ll be living in Japan every day for a year you therefore have the opportunity to use Japanese every day for a year. Don’t be shy or worried about making mistakes with the language. USE YOUR JAPANESE. There’s no excuse not to.
  • Make as many Japanese friends and friends from other countries that you can. Having contacts in Japan is great, you’ll have people to stay with and hang out with when you come back, and you can chat to them when you’re back in Australia so it will create opportunities to practice your Japanese even after you return. It’s also useful making friends from other countries, because you’ll have contacts all over the world. People to visit everywhere, not just in Japan. And you’ll learn so much about so many different cultures by talking to them, and be a better, more open-minded person for it. I made friends from America, England, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and of course Japan. Not a bad haul!
  • Last but definitely not least: Guys, approach lots of Japanese girls!!! They love foreign guys so make the most of it. (I’m serious. Dating Japanese girls is a great way to improve your Japanese speaking skills as well, so it’s a win-win.)

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