Bachelor of Arts/Secondary Education
Bachelor of Arts/Secondary Education

I am a third year UQ student studying a Bachelor of Arts/Secondary Education majoring in Japanese and English. Seeing as Japanese is the core focus of my future career aspirations, I knew how important an opportunity to study abroad would be in order to expand my language abilities and employability, but found that finance needed constantly hindered my decision to study in Japan. After receiving some valuable information on the OS-Help loan offered by UQ Abroad and the various scholarships that are implemented in the study abroad program, I finally made the decision to take the leap and apply for exchange to my favourite city in all of Japan, Kyoto. I am so glad that I made that decision as I was fortunate enough to receive the DIICSRTE Scholarship and also the OS-Help Loan that was on offer. The combination of the two made living in Kyoto a stress free experience as my rent and living expenses were entirely taken care of.

If you are studying a language at UQ I cannot recommend enough the importance and benefit of living in the country for a semester or two. What I learnt about the Japanese language and culture, and the fast pace in which I learnt it, while in Japan is something that I never thought was possible. Within one month I found that my Japanese was already drastically improving, and now after one semester I am far more confident within myself and my language abilities. Kyoto University of Foreign Studies offered a range of courses to foreign students, and even the opportunity to learn alongside Japanese students. I purely studied the Japanese language while at KUFS such as grammar, essay writing, and basic Japanese skills. I also had the opportunity to study Tea Ceremony weekly and ultimately host my own ceremony in the end. You could even study calligraphy and Kimono’s! I was thoroughly impressed with the abundance of courses on offer not only covering language but Japanese culture, which I believe is extremely important to experience whilst in a foreign country. It was also interesting to see the contrast with the Japanese academic system and Australian academic system. At first I was slightly shocked being put into a class where only Japanese was to be spoken which made me feel quite nervous in the first few weeks of the semester. Being thrown in the deep end, however, I found that I was able to increase my language abilities fast, and even surprised myself at times with the knowledge I already had.

Aside from study, Kyoto is an incredible city with amazing things to offer, with more than 2000 historic temples and shrines, an amazing mix of different styles of Japanese and western foods, and a prime location; meaning traveling around the country is as simple as getting onto a bus. I have forged strong friendships with foreign students from all around the globe who have the same passions as I do regarding Japan and Japanese, and also with Japanese students. KUFS also took us on school sight seeing excursions to places such as Awajishima Island and the Tottori Desert, and also had monthly experiences in which we were able to participate in, such as watching Japanese Noh theatre, participating in Tea Ceremonies, dressing in Kimono’s and making mochi (rice cakes). Some of these experiences would not have been possible if I were to come to Kyoto as a tourist, and they are memories that I will hold on to for a lifetime.

During my exchange, I lived off campus in a small one bedroom apartment about a 5 minute bike ride from the university. Although the size of the home was something I wasn’t used to in Australia, I quickly adapted and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. The only problem I had was getting used to sleeping on a futon, but it only took a couple of weeks. I enjoyed the location of my apartment in regards to the city center and my university, the space I had for myself, and the quietness of the area. When it comes to expenses, I agree entirely with UQ’s advice on around $10,000 per semester. Although, compared to Australia, Japan is reasonably cheap with living expenses; you have access to so many places and will find yourself traveling more than you may have thought.



When participating in a study exchange, particularly one in a country with a foreign language, I cannot express how important it is for you to forge friends with the local students, not just with international students. You need to take a step outside of your comfort zone and be confident within yourself to speak to strangers in their language and accept that you might make mistakes. You will soon realize that you are better at the language than you thought. I also suggest taking every opportunity possible when presented to you. Travel as much as you can (but ensuring you are also studying and learning!), eat all kinds of new, weird and wonderful foods (they might become your new favourites or staple foods), get outside your comfort zone and talk to people, you never know who you might meet on your journey. Make the most out of your experience in another country, because before you know it your semester will be over!


 

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