Samantha gazing at fish kites

Program at UQ: BA

During the first month of my exchange in Japan, I realized that I understood very little Japanese when spoken by natives, and that my recognition of kanji was relatively limited. However, at the end of my trip, I really felt comfortable living in Japan, and a casual conversation in Japanese had transgressed from nonsensical gibberish on my behalf to something that resembled a decent conversation amongst friends.

The lessons I enjoyed at Tokai University, Japan, were taught completely in Japanese, and daily immersion in the language provided me with the knowledge to speak more confidently with others. What’s more, the friendships I formed with not only native Japanese speakers, but also other exchange students from countries such as Korea, Germany, Finland, Iceland, and Hawaii, are ones that will surely last a lifetime.

The cultural experiences I was exposed to also granted me a greater feel for the country and the Japanese language itself. Experiences such as attending Kabuki at the National Japanese Theatre, strolling through Ueno Park during cherry blossom season, attending a giant kite festival in Kanagawa prefecture, becoming a member of a university club and so forth. In fact, simply living in the country exposed me to a series of customs and traditions that were so wondrous and foreign to me. Even now, I miss Japan’s flawless customer service, its’ busy streets so brightly lit with neon lights, and the sound of rowdy Japanese high school boys. But more so, I miss campus living, and the opportunity to speak and study intensely a language I hold such a great interest in.

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