James - International Christian University

B. Arts
Semester 2, 2014; Semester 1, 2015

Academic experience

During my year abroad I studied courses from ICU's Japanese studies program. This structure has you not only taking language courses but also courses related to history, sociology and society. The clearest difference between ICU and UQ was the importance of class attendance. Not only do you have to attend the majority of classes to pass JLP but there is also a larger focus on in-class testing. In my JLP courses, there was normally a test each day in addition to weekly speeches, reading homework and essay writing. So the most important key to getting good grades in ICU is to attend the classes regularly because the grades for these small assessments build up quickly.

Personal experience

Going on an exchange will not only let you meet so many new people but it is also the perfect opportunity for travelling as well. ICU is split into three semesters and including the Christmas break, it gives you four periods where you can really get out to go see Japan. Also, Japan has four really distinct seasons and the timing of each break made each trip feel special and unique. From seeing the Snow Monkeys in the midst of winter to enjoying the Hanami in the spring, the year just never felt the same.


Dinner with roommates
Dinner with my roommates

I spent my three semesters in an on-campus dorm called Global House. Although the rent isn't cheap you get your own large room, internet and are only a couple minutes walk from class. The best part about Global House is that you really do get to meet people from all over Japan and the world. However, because there are a lot of English speaking people in the dorm you will have to make an effort to practice your Japanese. So to get closer to the regular Japanese students I would recommend for guys and girls to join the dorms soccer team and to just participate in the regular dorm events. I really think you should consider staying in on-campus accommodation if you can afford it because there is always someone around, something to do and I think it is the easiest way to feel at home in a foreign country.


The cost of living in Tokyo can stack up quite a bit if you are not careful. The round trip cost of going into to the city is around $10 and with so many places to see in the greater Tokyo region I really do recommend having some money saved to get out and explore. And although the cost of good quality Japanese food is much cheaper than a good restaurant in Australia, the food is amazing and I always wanted to go out to new restaurants to try new things. I know people will say that living in this city doesn't have to be expensive, but if you are living in Tokyo having some money saved will give you more opportunities to go out and really enjoy your time here.

Professional development and employability

There isn't really anything that beats living in Japan for Japanese language abilities. Always being forced to be surrounded by the language really does help you learn how to use it in a variety of formal and non-formal situations. I think there are many benefits to coming overseas if you ever plan to live and work in Japan after graduating.


One of the best experiences this year was when I went overseas during my spring break. You don't realize just how quickly it will be until life in Tokyo will start feeling normal. However, during spring break I found discounted flights to South Korea and Hong Kong and couldn't resist. The difference between all these countries was really amazing and I would really recommend not only using your exchange as a chance to experience Tokyo but also keep in mind that you are in a really good location for exploring all of Asia.

Top tips

My advice to students coming in future is to save as much money as you can to open up your opportunities while you are abroad. Also one year really does go fast when you are surrounded by new and exciting things. Make sure you never skip out on experiences because you think you have a lot of time, as when the time comes to leave you will only be wishing that you could stay longer.

James - International Christian University