こんにちは皆, 私の名前はトゥです. (Hello everyone, my name is Tou). I am currently doing a bachelor of International Studies, majoring in Asian Studies and Japanese. It is now my third year here at UQ.

I took the opportunity to go and study abroad at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies (KUFS). During my semester stay, I mainly studied Japanese and chose four other electives, which were Japanese Society, Japanese Composition, Kanji and Japanese Grammar. The academic structure at KUFS reminded me of high school again, hence why I really enjoyed studying there. We would have set periods of classes and one lunch break between period 2 and 3. Being in a university that felt like high school again was awesome. It felt like being a teenager again but having lots of freedom to do what we wanted to do.

KUFS has given me the opportunity to meet such amazing people from all over the world and I am so glad I have developed such good friendships with them all. They are friends who’ve changed my life forever, friends who now give me a reason to travel to Italy, Spain, America, Mexico, Germany, Taiwan, Peru, and all other corners of the world. You never know how much a person can change your life until you meet them. I not only call them friends now but family also, family whom I will never forget. And who knows, falling in love could also strike your path along the way.

KUFS has two main dorms, Resident B (Res B) and Resident A (Res A), and then KUFS also allocated some students to Leopalace apartments located throughout the city. I was placed in Leopalace Saiin, one of the three Leopalace’s (Saiin, Luna, Meibu). I shared this apartment with one other girl who was my neighbor. We were a 10-minute bike ride away from the others and KUFS, however I enjoyed my peace and quiet plus we were also a 3 minute walk from the train station so that was a bonus. Don’t get me wrong, I do love to socialize 24/7, but living at Saiin was my little getaway from everybody when I needed time to relax. Res B is the closest to KUFS where most of the students were living at, and Res A was the furthest from KUFS.

Overall I loved my neighborhood. Strolling around the area on my bike on late afternoons was always interesting. One time I even discovered a temple hidden within my neighbourhood. This is what I loved about Japan the most, these temples inside the city center were like little hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

During the first month, I went crazy with my spending. Seeing that the exchange rate was $1AUS to ¥96JPY (0.96centsAUS) I was living like a King in Japan. Everything was just so cheap and affordable. Especially their discount store called Daiso, everything was ¥100JPY ($1AUS). I also found food (meals) in general very cheap, however fruit was extremely expensive. $600AUS or even LESS would have been more than enough to live on for one month (excluding rent and SHOPPING $$$). Though do not stress about the price of alcohol, if you are 20 and over, alcohol is extremely cheap. Drink responsibly!

Lastly my top 5 tips will be:

  • Get a BIKE ! Please, or else you will be a burden to your friends. Hahaha. There is a second hand bike store just outside KUFS main road heading towards Res B or one down your way towards Saiin station. They will range from $40-$100. I can guarantee everyone will be riding his or her bike everywhere. Plus it is a truly great way to explore the city and travel to Kamogawa River where all KUFS international students head to during Spring/Summer.
  • Do not open your door to NHK (Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai). They are a broadcasting company. YOU HAVE TO PAY to watch TV in JAPAN. All the teachers highly recommend you to not pay. I was one of the unfortunate ones who paid and signed their contract before being told about this. I had to get one of my teachers to cancel my contract before leaving. It can be very pricey especially if you are on a tight budget. So to avoid, do not open your door and if you do, pretend you are a visitor and the host is not home. Cancellation is also a hassle.
  • If you want a good feed, go to this Karaage (Deep friend Japanese chicken) restaurant hidden behind Saiin Station. It’s across from Pachinko (Casino) and a little down from Baskin and Robbins. Less than $10 could get you a huge serve of Karaage Chicken. Just ask for Set C and you will know what I mean.
  • If you by any chance come back to discover that your bike is not where you parked it anymore. Don’t stress, either the council has taken it or if you’re unfortunate someone has stolen it. However, if you know you locked your bike previously before leaving it, then council would have probably taken it because you were not allowed to park your bike there legally. Theft rarely occurs in Japan (however still be careful). So, what to do you may ask. Don’t panic or stress. It is very easy to get it back with a simply payment of ¥2500JPY ($25AUS). The station were all bikes are taken to is just on your way to Sanjo street, across from Nijo Station. Res A students should know. It has a towering green gate at the front entrance so you won’t miss it.
  • And lastly, just have fun. No matter where you are, no matter the temperature, just enjoy every moment in Kyoto. Definitely travel around the neighbourhood with your bike. It is such a safe city, (though with that being said still be responsible and be stranger danger alert). You are bound to meet the most interesting people of your life. These people will shape and change your life forever. This is a chance to start fresh with new people in a new place. Bad decisions make the best memories, so take advantage of your new surroundings and make the most of it.

KUFS is such a wonderful university and I am soo glad I chose to go there. There was so much diversity of cultures within the university however it still didn’t loose touch of its own Japanese culture. Everyone there was extremely friendly and helpful, the teachers were also very kind. The school even planned day and night trips for all international students. If I could do this all over again I would instantly without a doubt do it all over again. I don’t regret anything from this experience and I can honestly say I have now become a much better person than I was before. Thank you so much UQ Abroad for this AMAZING, PHENOMENAL experience, and I would highly recommend everyone who has the chance to go abroad to GO !



 

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