Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts

I am a Bachelor of Arts, now in my third year at UQ while studying at Kobe University in Japan.

Since I had previously come to Japan on a gap-year exchange, I wasn’t starting from scratch with the language. That being said, I decided to take Japanese language courses at Kobe University’s Exchange Student Centre (留学生センター, or 留セン for short). In addition, I also took classes at the International Culture Faculty, which mostly consisted of linguistic related courses. Japanese people often say the hardest part of the Japanese education system is high school and once you get into university it is the “spring vacation of life”. While there certainly are people who study hard, many take it as a chance to relax and just study what they want rather than focus on careers for the future.

What surprised me the most was people just sleeping in class as if it doesn’t matter – and university professors also seemed to turn a blind eye to it! As far as challenges go, certainly nothing can compare you for university-level Japanese and you’re going to have to accept you don’t know everything. Also accept that this isn’t your “spring vacation of life” and while you’re there to have plenty of fun, you’d be wasting your time if you didn’t put in effort to learning Japanese while soaking in a new culture.

I have made some of the best friends in my five months here. In my time here, I have also been to Awaji Island just off Kobe, Gifu, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. I still definitely consider Gifu my second home since I lived there during 2011 so it was great to be able to go back for New Years.

As far as other experiences, I am currently participating in an internship at a politician’s office, helping out with day-to-day related activities in his office and also attending budget briefings and study events. While I certainly feel out of my depth sometimes (for example, I’ll forgive myself for not knowing “coal-fire power” in my second language), it has been a great learning experience that I am trying to soak up as much as I can.

Image of student and friends with light feature in background

I live off-campus but at one Kokui Campus, which is about a twenty minute walk to the campus gates and thirty to the International Culture faculty. The fact it’s such a short work to campus in addition to various train stations (not only Hankyuu, but also JR) make it a great spot to live. It also have a very countryside vibe to it (well, at least by Japanese standards), which makes me more comfortable than the big city. If I had to name a con, it would be the hills! You’ll have to get used to those!

My expenses rounded out to about 13,000 yen a week, which has left room for a few luxury purchases (like a manga or book I’m interested in, a game etc.) The money goes surprisingly quick and if you don’t want to be as stingy as I, it is probably a better idea to budget 15,000 yen a week, if your budget can afford it.

Tips time!

  • Joining a university club (or a サークル, as they say) is a great way to make new friends. Just do it!
  • Try and limit your English interactions. With the friends you make, try and do it in Japanese. You didn’t come here to speak English!
  • Following along from the previous point, try and do everything you can in Japanese. It is the only way you’re going to grow in the language!
  • Be social! Take all the socializing opportunities you can, even if you feel tired.

Well, that’s it from me! I hope all of you who come here have a blast and hope not to come home (just like me!)

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