Matthew - Kochi University

B. Law / B. Arts / Diploma of Language
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

During my exchange, I studied seven Japanese language courses. These courses were taught entirely in Japanese and, for the most part, were well beyond my abilities. However, through endless hours of study I was able to complete them with middling grades. The feeling was deeply unsatisfying and it underscored my ineptitude as a linguist and a student of foreign culture.

Personal experience

The rigorous academic schedule which unfortunately overlapped with that of UQ dramatically meant that I saw very little of Japan. On one weekend I did travel to Hiroshima, an experience which left me quite miserable thereafter. I did meet many new people, many of whom were eager to communicate with me. The Japanese people are generous and kind beyond conveyance. However, my sub-par Japanese often left me feeling frustrated after such encounters. As a whole, my Japanese certainly improved but not nearly as much as I would have hoped. All of this only further enhanced my desire to stay longer - though extensions are impossible during a UQ sponsored exchange

Accommodation

I lived off campus in a nearby apartment building. I very much appreciated the assistance in finding the accommodation (from the Kochi University staff) as doing so is a complicated process in Japan. The apartment itself was larger than I had expected and conveniently close to the campus and grocery store. However, I spent as little time there as possible - only returning home when the library closed in the evening.

Budget

During my stay, I had the pleasure of watching the Australian dollar fall to an almost comical equivalence. This coupled with banking difficulties led me to avoid expense wherever possible. Put simply, whatever you have budgeted will not be enough.

Professional development and employability

I would like to say language skills though I am now more aware than ever that fluency is fleeting. I'm sure that the particularity of my experiences here will be appealing to a particular set of employers.

Highlight

In my first week after arriving, I met a very interesting character who took me to see his student film in an art gallery across town. To this day I still have no idea what the film was about.

Top tips

Perhaps I was overconfident in my willingness to be unprepared for this trip. I can say that the experience would have been more valuable if I had been better able to comprehend what was happening. Regardless, the challenging and unromantic aspects of my exchange were the most valuable parts of it. While it was not the holiday most people look for, I believe I will look back on this as the most important formative experience of my time at university.

Matthew - Kochi University