Program at UQ: Bachelor of Arts

2009 for me was spent at the University of Kitakyushu, with a view to improving my Japanese prior to graduating as a high school Japanese and English teacher.

I arrived in Kitakyushu in early April, just in time to enjoy the truly magical sight of the cherry blossoms surrounding Kokura Castle. The lead up to actually leaving for Japan had been intense to say the least, but after being in Kitakyushu for a few weeks, I realised that everything was going to be OK; more than OK in fact.

All classes at the university are conducted in Japanese. Admittedly, some classes were taught far, far better than others, but on the whole, the teaching staff at Kitakyushu are not only talented, but also very dedicated. Kitakyushu may not be the most cosmopolitan city on the Japanese archipelago, but for so many reasons, I would recommend it to all UQ students of Japanese, not only due to the very significant improvement you will notice in your language skills, but also due to the many unique cultural and travel experiences that can be afforded to you during your stay on Kyushu.  Some of the highlights of my year abroad included the extensive travel I was able to do within Japan, learning traditional Japanese dance, appearing on local television, teaching English to an elderly Japanese gentleman who became like a grandfather to me, and on a more day-to-day level, having those moments where I realised just how much my Japanese had improved.

Due to the lack of foreigners in Kitakyushu, you will no doubt be stared at in amazement (and occasionally asked some rather bizarre questions by these total strangers) on the monorail, at uni, in the supermarket and any other public place you can imagine, but this is just one of the many quirks that make student life in Kitakyushu one of the more distinctive locations in Japan. My year abroad threw me a lot of challenges, but I came to realise that these character building moments were, if not more valuable, definitely just as important as the set of truly amazing memories I will be taking back with me to Queensland.



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