My name is Jackson de Laat and I am a third year student currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts/Law. Thanks to UQ abroad, I was able to study at Shimonoseki City University from 2nd Semester 2011 for a year. The experience was nothing short of phenomenal, however summarising it all in one short testimonial is next to impossible.

Firstly SCU was completely different to UQ, being home to around 2000 students and specialising in Economics courses. Since I had studied nothing but Japanese and Law at UQ, it was an exciting change of pace to study psychology, communication and economics, among other things.

Shimonoseki is located just short of the border between the Chugoku and Kitakyushu regions. Despite this, it is a far cry from big cities such as Tokyo or Osaka. I think I was truly lucky to be able to catch a glimpse into what life is really like for your everyday Japanese person. Of course, this meant when I was working part-time at the fish market I got a couple of odd looks here and there. Nonetheless, the Karato fish market has arguably the best sushi on this side of the world, it is a must see! (You can see me working away in the yellow there)

For me, the greatest thing about Shimonoseki was the people I have met in my year abroad. I joined the karate club and was even given special permission to participate in a match with another member of the team, something I will not be forgetting anytime soon. On top of that, just walking around campus I knew almost everyone and most people knew me. It was a small town in itself and I mean that in the best way possible. Some people say it is not the destination but the journey. In my case it was the people I met on the journey.

At Shimonoseki City University you are assigned a Japanese student as a tutor, sort of like a buddy. Michael (another UQ student at SCU with me) and I came to Shimonoseki in the wake of the earthquake, slightly disheartened and unsure what to expect. However, we forged friendships that would last a lifetime. The photo on the right is of the four of us at Haeundae Beach in Busan where we went for a weekend away. South Korea is a very affordable boat ride away and if you have time I would highly recommend checking it out.

Alas, there is so much more to say but not enough pages to do justice to the adventure that was my exchange. Regardless of where you go, if you study abroad in Japan, I can guarantee that you are going to have an amazing time. For me, Shimonoseki is like my second hometown and it will always have a place in my heart. If you can, study abroad, you will not regret it. I know I won’t.

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