Audrey - Kobe University

B. Arts
Semester 2, 2014

Academic experience

I took mostly Japanese language course because let's face it, you go to the country not only to experience the culture but also to learn more about the language. One thing that I had to get used to as compared to back when I was in Australia was the attendance system. It was the one thing that I found hard to adjust from my Australia lifestyle because we had to keep a 70% attendance or else we will fail the subject, there was no emailing the teacher when you are not feeling well, it was either showing up for class or being marked absent. Unlike the periods in UQ, there were only 4 lessons a day at Kobe University, excluding a lunch break in between. There were no contacts and lectures, each lesson was 90 minutes long and everyone from different faculty had the same break. Hence, the crowded cafeteria every day. 

However, there are some similarities to the education in UQ. We had assignments every day, presentation, group activities etc. Teachers were friendly and approachable, they were helpful to the extent of even staying behind after class just to answer any questions the students had. It was oddly different, yet similar.

Personal experience

As cliche as it sounds, I have developed friendships that would last a lifetime. Staying at the dormitory gave me the chance to interact with people from all over the world. They are people from all walks of life, but we shared the same goal, that is, to improve our Japanese language. Despite our busy schedules, we made an effort of travelling to at least one new place every month, and with each trip, we deepened our friendship as well as broaden our knowledge on Japan culture. 

Aside from the usual, proper Japanese that are taught in class, I also learned different dialects with the help of all the Japanese friends I have made. They were more than happy to teach me because compared to Kantou, the Japanese people from Kansai areas are proud of their dialects. 

Cooking was never a problem for me because as an international student living in Australia, I do that quite often. One thing that I have greatly improve when I am in Japan is my stamina. Walking used to be a problem for me because I used to be lazy and heavily relied on having a car to drive. In Japan, however, most of the people here either walk or take public transport. From where I lived, the bus ride to the city took about 40 minutes, whereas the closest grocery shop is around 20 minutes by foot.


I lived in Kokui Dormitory, an international dormitory provided by Kobe University, it is roughly around 30 minutes by foot to campus. Living in the dorm gave me the opportunity to mix around with people, unlike in Australia where I rent an apartment unit.

Although I got a whole room to myself, I still had to pay for the common room separately, even when it was locked most of the time. The only way to get into the room was to get permission from the on-site manager. We were not only expected to pay for our bills, which are excluded from the room rent, but we also had to pay at 100yen ($1) each time we did our laundry. 

One of the good things about the dormitory was the night view. Since it was so high up the hill, very much close to Mount Maya, our view stretched out till the vast ocean where we could see the building lights shimmering on the surface of the water. It was breathtaking.


The following is the estimated expenses:

Rent: 18,000yen + 3,400yen (Common area)
Electricity: 5,000yen
Water (every 3 months): 4,000yen
Insurance: 1,800yen
Food: 15,000yen
Transport: 2,500yen
Entertainment: 8,000yen
Travel: 5,000yen

Recommended budget would be around 80,000yen/month

Professional development and employability

I used to not be able to speak Japanese language fluently although I have been studying it for 4 years. I did not have the confidence to speak up because I had to construct the proper sentence in my head before making a fool out of myself. Participating in the exchange had made me realise that I can not learn if I don't make mistake. Depending on the people I met, some corrected my grammar, some did not, either way, I was still building my confidence from just speaking what was on my mind. 

Employers always look for students who had experience life in Japan because even if the student did not interact much with other people, they still had to go through their day-to-day life like grocery shopping etc and they would have no choice but to speak Japanese. I am very sure that with my experience from this exchange, I will be able to increase my chance of employability in the real world.


When I first came to my dormitory. The tutors from Kobe University helped me out a lot because they split us into groups with different tutors, and helped us out with insurance issue as well as the residence card. Without them, I would not be able to have done all these things; I would not have had the courage to speak Japanese; and last but not least, I would not have been able to meet the awesome friends that I have now.

Top tips

Keep an open heart, it's okay to make mistakes because everyone around you are there to guide you.

Audrey - Kobe University