Cameron - Keio University

B. Arts
Semester 2, 2015

Academic experience

During my exchange I mostly studied Japanese courses. I also had the opportunity to study courses about Japanese art, history, and anthropology. I mostly wanted to improve my Japanese and the Keio Japanese Program is great for that. I studied in the pre-designed course program which I can recommend if you would like to improve your Japanese intensively rather than choosing subjects from the main course list (this will all make sense when you get to Keio).

The workload could be stressful at times and I had a few bumps initially with the amount of tani (credits). I ended up dropping a few but overall it's still worth continuing your exchange and sticking it out.

Personal experience

Thanks to my exchange I was able to make a lot of friends from other countries and even other Australian students who I wouldn't have been able to meet otherwise. A lot of people say you should only try and make friends with the locals during your stay to get the most out of your time, but I think you also sometimes need to be able to speak with people who understand your own culture and share your experiences in terms you both understand. If you focus too much on constantly immersing yourself you can't reflect on your own positive/negative experiences and you will probably feel alienated in a foreign country. Basically, try not to restrict yourself to hanging out with one group of people, the Japanese people are lovely but your exchange student friends will support you too! I also learned a lot of skills during exchange like how to manage my time better and also getting into the habit of cooking and cleaning more!


I lived in a dormitory belonging to Keio called Motosumiyoshi Residence. Even though it's a bit far from Mita campus where most students study, I really liked it because the overall location is good and all of the rooms are self-contained so living there is really comfortable and convenient. If you'd like to stay here I would say you definitely need to make a reservation fast through the Keio Online Dormitory System (I was refreshing at the registration time). A lot of my friends said they missed out because they didn't register fast enough!


Japan is pretty cheap and the rent is made less expensive if you live in university dorms and affiliated accommodation because you're a student. In terms of transport, once you get your student ID you can get a teiki-ken which is roughly 30% cheaper than using your PASMO card on the train. A teiki-ken is a temporary commuter pass for students and workers which you can use as many times as you want so the more you travel the more you save. 3 months is about 20,000 yen ($240-250 assuming the exchange rate is around 80 yen to the dollar). Entertainment and such is also not expensive but if you go out a lot you will notice the money dwindling. Make sure you monitor your money!

Professional development and employability

Obviously improving my Japanese is one of the main skills I developed which will contribute to my professional development, but even really simple things like time management (i.e. not procrastinating) will really help me in the future.


The highlight of my experience was definitely all the people! Also stepping out of my comfort zone. I thought I knew a lot about Japan and Japanese but the truth is you don't really know anything until you've lived somewhere and used the language every day.

One of my highlights was also working as an assistant teacher in an English class at Keio. It was a really good opportunity to work part-time in Japan and earn some money, but I was able to meet and talk with a lot of Japanese students who I wouldn't normally have met in my Japanese language classes. I only went once a week but if you don't have to, I really recommend not getting a part-time job. You don't want to look back at your exchange and realise you didn't have fun because you were too busy earning the minimum wage!

Top tips

My advice to other students would be to come for 2 semesters and not 1! Also, make the most of it and travel if you can. Exchange is really what you make of it and there are sometimes difficulties but the amount of fun, positive experiences make it so worthwhile!

Cameron - Keio University