Bachelor of International Studies, 3rd year
Bachelor of International Studies, 3rd year

Academic Experience

All courses offered at Shimonoseki are taught in Japanese and are aimed at students with an intermediate-advanced level of Japanese. If you're looking to really develop your Japanese skills, Shimonoseki is a great university. As many before me have said, the structure of classes is more similar to high school than any classes I've experienced at UQ. Also most of your classes will be quite small (no more than 10 people) and with other exchange students. But as a full-time load equivalent is about 10+ classes there are opportunities to take other classes and meet Japanese students. Because of the small class sizes the teachers are very hands on and more than willing to give you extra help if you need it, and if you ask for it. Something that I wasn't used to and took a bit of time to get used to was receiving weekly homework tasks for almost every course. Also, class attendance rules are quite strict.

Personal Experience

My exchange experience has given me so much. Of course, my Japanese skills improved but I was able to experience and appreciate a culture so different from what I know in Australia. I was also able to make friends with people from many different countries. Even though we all come from different places and different native languages, as our Japanese improved we were able to create even stronger friendships. Studying abroad in Japan has helped me to always stay positive and given me the confidence to believe that if you're prepared to work hard, it will all work out in the end.

Accommodation

While studying in Shimonoseki I lived in student accommodation for international students. I found this to be really straightforward as the university's International Exchange Centre organises this for students. The room has everything you need with your own toilet/shower and kitchen. Rent and utilities were quite cheap and the dorm is close to the university, convenience stores and bus/train stations. If you're looking to save some money you can ask for a standard room instead of one of the larger rooms that the Australian exchange students always seem to be automatically assigned to.

Professional Development & Employability

I think the most important skill I have learnt while studying at Shimonoseki is persistence and the ability to creatively communicate my thoughts and opinions. When I first arrived my Japanese skills were quite poor and although I still have a lot more to learn, I feel like my understanding has improved enormously. Living in a 'rural' city meant that a good understanding of Japanese was absolutely essential. There were many times where I just didn't know how express something. Not being able to fall back on using English meant that I had to keep trying and learn how to think outside the box about how to express myself and make my point, and taking JLPT N1/N2 level classes meant that using Japanese was absolutely essential.

The content of the courses I took at Shimonoseki was more difficult than anything I'd studied previously in Australia, it was definitely a leap. Despite the fact that the exchange program classes are suited for students with a of Japanese. 

Highlights

The highlight of my exchange semester in Shimonoseki was participating in a worship ceremony at a local shrine during Golden Week. Four exchange students from universities all around Shimonoseki participate each year. The ceremony commemorates the Emperor Antoku that died at 8 years old due to clashes between clans in the area. As a part of this ceremony we all got to wear a kimono and participate in a procession into the shrine. The ceremony is important in Shimonoseki with many locals participating be re-enacting scenes from the battle, all while wearing period clothing. It was an amazing event to witness, even more amazing to be able to be a part of it as few people get to experience it.

Top Tips

For anyone considering Shimonoseki City University I would say that it is a wonderful university and I had many amazing experiences during my time there. I feel like I might have taken more from my classes if my level of knowledge was higher - I think intermediate/advanced students would benefit the most from a university like Shimonoseki but if you're willing to work hard, you can make anything work. Take every opportunity you get to meet people. I learnt so many new things in my classes but conversations with Japanese friends, home-visit families and lovely old ladies on the bus were where I felt like I learnt the most. If you want to travel while you're studying, definitely do it before or after your exchange semester. Apart from a few public holidays there are no days off and it's likely that you'll have at least one class every day.

 

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