I have always wanted to do exchange in Japan, however I had a hard time choosing which university to go to. After much deliberation, I decided to pick Kwansei Gakuin University, which had just recently formed a partnership with UQ.

Studying at Kwansei Gakuin University (Kangaku for short) was a pleasure and made easy by the helpful staff and teachers with great facilities at hand. On the first day of orientation, everyone is required to take a placement test so I would definitely recommend you to be prepared so that you are placed in your appropriate proficiency level! I was in the intensive track, and classes were pretty challenging, plus there was so much homework and quizzes that I wasn’t really able to go around the rest of Japan as I had hoped to. We are mainly required to take Japanese language courses, and additional elective courses which are taught in English. The thing I liked about Kangaku is that they offer preparatory courses for students intending to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) Level N2, and if you stay for a year, there is a preparatory course for Level N1 as well. It is a pity that I could only do exchange for 1 semester. If I could have stayed for a year, I would definitely challenge myself to the N1 preparatory course, as they do not offer classes like these at UQ.

Kangaku is at a prime location, situated around the middle of Osaka and Kobe. It is very convenient to travel to nearby prefectures by train as well, such as Kyoto which is famous for temples and shrines, and Nara which is well known for the deer park.

I decided to try home stay while I was here, in order to experience the life of a typical Japanese family and to be able to speak Japanese outside of class as well. Kangaku is unique in that it helps exchange students look for host families and match them according to their preferences. Although I have friends who didn’t quite get along with their host families, I was really lucky with my host family as they were very easy to get along with and very flexible and understanding about cultural differences. Not only did I learn new things from my host parents, I also learnt a thing or two from my host kids! Living with a host family created wonderful memories that I would cherish for the rest of my life.

I would definitely recommend going for exchange; experiencing a different culture is essential, some things cannot be learnt from a textbook. You will be able to improve your language skills tremendously and have a blast while at it! It is a very valuable and fulfilling experience, as you will form many friendships and wonderful memories.

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