Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts

If you've clicked on my testimonial that probably means you're interested in studying at Kobe University or in Kansai – which is awesome! Everything about Kobe is brilliant!!

I'm currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts 3rd year, which just goes to show it's never too late to apply for exchange if you decide it's something you really wanna do!

Kobe University was initially recommended to me by a Japanese lecturer at UQ, and I have to say that it was the best advice I have received. Kobe is a beautiful city that is built between the mountains and the sea. Consequently the views are beautiful, the weather is great, and you get a nice cool sea breeze in the summer. It's located close to many other cities, so there were many days after class where I'd take a train and spend the afternoon in Kyoto, Osaka or Nara. It's a fun city but also quiet enough that it doesn't become overwhelming in the same way that Tokyo can (and it's cheaper too!). In short, Kobe, for me, felt like the perfect city to live in.

I stayed in one of Kobe University's dormitories, and I recommend anyone else studying there to do the same. Kokui Dormitory, where I stayed, is up on the mountain and the night view is spectacular. On a clear night you can see all the way across to Osaka. Plus, it's walking distance from the Kobe University Rokkodai campus so I was able to save a lot of money that way.

One of the things I liked most about Kobe University was the huge range of courses on offer. I took an intensive morning course that was tough work but really REALLY improved my Japanese, but the University also offers more specific Japanese courses from absolute beginner to JLPT N1, including Japanese for Sciences, JLPT preparation, Essay Writing and Kanji. However, what was a real draw card for me was being able to take regular classes in your home university major as well. This was a great opportunity to make Japanese friends, gain new perspectives on my studies, and put my language skills to the test.

The campus also offered a lot of clubs and circles to join, and if you have time I really recommend you try joining one. For me it was a great way to make friends, but also improve my fitness and learn a lot of vocabulary and expressions related to my interests that you don't really find in textbooks. I was in the karate club, and it was so exciting getting the chance to train in a beautiful old dojo that was on campus.

If I could give one piece of advice it would be to take every opportunity, even if you aren't totally comfortable with it. Because I jumped into so many different things, I was able to experience sides of Japan I otherwise never would have. For example, I went away for a weekend to rural Japan and spent the night sleeping in an old primary school and having a BBQ with some local farmers and other students from all over the world. Another afternoon I was walking home from school and this huge float was blocking the road – turns out there was a festival on for the local shrine! I ended up pulling the float around all evening and then having dinner with the festival staff. I also had the opportunity to stay in a very fancy Ryokan with hot springs. It was so SO beautiful and relaxing, and it helped me to forge some really great friendships. And then there was a friday night where some friends and I missed the last train back from Osaka and spent the night singing karaoke in a love hotel because no other hotels were open. These are memories I'll never forget, and this kind of spontaneity really helped build confidence in myself and my language ability.

Oh! And don't forget that while study is important, you only get to do this exchange once! Don't be afraid to be dorky and touristy sometimes. See and do everything you possibly can! And eat EVERYTHING!

Since the Japanese school year starts later than the Australian one I'm still over here, and unfortunately can't post any photos from my planned trip to Mount Fuji or the World Cosplay summit, but I still wanted to use it as an example of the variety of things there are to do over here. Especially in Kansai, there are SO many things to see whether you are interested in traditional culture and architecture, Cool Japan, futuristic technology, or anything nerdy.

Good luck on your big adventure :D

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