Bachelor of International Studies, 3rd year
Bachelor of International Studies, 3rd year

Academic experiences

During my time in Japan, I decided to focus on improving my Japanese skills because I strongly believed that language acquisition is best achieved through practical immersion.
Hitotsubashi offers a wide range of Japanese language subjects under the Hitotsubashi Global Program (HGP).
In order to take these subjects, you are first required to take a placement test and this test will determine which level of Japanese class you should enrol in - ranging from beginners to advanced levels.
Don't be too worried about the results of this test, if you believe that you should be in a higher or lower level, simply ask the teachers and they will assist you in moving into a more easy or difficult level!
Of course, if you don’t plan on taking Japanese language subjects, HGP offers a variety of subjects taught in English.
From experience it feels like most of the HGP courses are equivalent to first-year courses at UQ. 
Hitotsubashi Uni has a very different academic system to UQ.
Classes were run on a period system and there were 5 periods each day (one period being 90minutes).
If you can, try and avoid the first period classes (8:50am start), especially if you are planning to take the train, because the peak hour trains can get really crowded.
Even worse is during summer, with the scorching heat and humidity.
Hitotsubashi has a different credit system that can, at times, be very confusing.
You are required to take 12 tani for a full time study load and that is equivalent to 8 credits at UQ. Since most of the courses are worth 2 tani each, you are required to take 6 courses.
As for the challenges I faced at Hitotsubashi, the strict attendance policy was at times a little frustrating.
For most of the classes I took, absence or late arrival of more than four classes (without earlier notice) was classified as a fail overall.
For those who are going to Hitotsubashi, once again, I definitely recommend you not to take first period classes because there is a big chance that you will be late to class.

Peace with my fellow exchange buddies

Personal experiences

Throughout my time abroad, I was able to make friends from not just Japan, but from people all around the world, including England, Belgium, Germany, Hong Kong, China and Korea.
Despite being raised in a multicultural country, actually being with people that lived on the other side of the globe was truly an eye opening experience and led me to think about how little I knew about the world.
These kinds of insights into people, cultures, languages and world affairs are priceless and have changed the course of my life for the better.

Accommodation

I decided to live in a dormitory because living in Tokyo can get pretty expensive.
Hitotsubashi has two dorms, in Kodaira and Kunitachi.
When you apply for the dorms, you cannot select which dormitory you will be placed in.
I was placed in the dorm in Kodaira and its about 20 minutes bike ride or a 30 minute train ride to campus.
In each flat, it contains six individual rooms and amongst these six people, toilets, showers, laundry and kitchen facilities are shared.
At first, I was worried whether I was emotionally capable of living with five other girls.
I was worried if I was able to get along with people that I barely know and who were from different cultural backgrounds, especially because it was my first time living out of home.
My advice for future exchange students is that there is no need to worry!
From my personal experience, and from what I've seen and heard from other students, everyone gets along great with their flatmates.
I feel so blessed with the best possible flatmates I could have ever asked for and without a doubt, I definitely have no regrets in choosing to live in a dorm!!

Watching Sumo

Budget

The rent for the dormitory is relatively cheap because it is located in the outskirts of Tokyo.
The major money consumer was transportation.
In Japan, trains are the most convenient transportation option and if you decide to take the train to uni, it costs around 600 yen ($6) per day.
If you are unfortunate enough to have uni for five days, you will end up spending about 3000 yen ($30) per week.
Combined with trips to the city and other places, a lot of money is used to just get you to your destination.
To save you some money, I definitely recommend borrowing a bike.
During orientation week, the university will provide you with information about where you can borrow bikes, some ranging from as little as 1000 yen ($10) for the whole semester.
It's hard to recommend a budget, simply because it depends on how much you like traveling, shopping, whether you like to eat out a lot or not, and if you are going to cycle or train it to university.
Shopping wise, there are a lot of temptations wherever you go and it gets worse in regards to food.
There are convenient stores, vending machines and cheap family restaurants all over the place that you end up buying and eating so much food.
I would think that $5000-6000 would be enough, but I would definitely recommend that you keep track of your money.

Kimono with my flatmate

Academic development and employability

I believe that my exchange experience has been incredibly beneficial.
Being able to live in Japan definitely increased my Japanese proficiency and enabled me to understand a lot more about not only Japan, but also about Australia and other countries around the globe.
I feel that I acquired a greater cultural awareness and developed further sensitivity to cultural differences throughout my time living and studying in Japan.
Furthermore, I feel that my self-confidence has grown immensely and I have become more independent.
Of my own volition, I decided to attend multiple career forums for Japanese companies.
I came to realize how fortunate and advantaged I was, being able to speak both English and Japanese and it opened up many future opportunities.

Highlight

In one of my classes, I was able to try on the traditional Japanese garment, Kimono.
It was an incredible experience, and I felt so affiliated with Japanese culture when I wore it.
In addition, being with all your friends made the experience a whole lot more enjoyable.
This is definitely an experience that I will cherish and treasure.
If you're ever in Japan, definitely have a go at wearing a Kimono!

Top tips

- When you live in Kodaira dorm: There is no curfew but always keep in mind that the dorm is located in the rural areas of Tokyo, and therefore, the last trains do not run as late as those in the city.
If you miss the last train, you will either desperately have to find a place to stay or you have to taxi it home, and that can get really expensive.

- For those who enjoy Karaoke!
Karaoke Ban Ban offers very cheap karaoke for students.
There is one near the Kodaira dorm, about 10 minutes walk and if you have your friends that have a members card it is pretty cheap!

- If you want to engage with more Japanese students, join a club/society during orientation week!

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