Maddy - Tokai University

B. Arts
Semester 2, 2015

Academic experience

I'm not going to lie, classes at Tokai were challenging however they were still the best classes I have ever participated in. The teachers are amazing and their main focus is to assist you in improving your Japanese skills. Although classes were 5 days a week (very different to my 3 days at UQ), your class becomes a family as your language abilities grow together. Classes are from 9:20am-2:55pm so the days aren't so long and you still get a lot of time off in the afternoon to study/relax depending on your dedication. Only 10 people were in my class so it was very easy to become close to all the students. Some of them spoke English but many of us communicated only in Japanese. My biggest worry was my language ability. When I left Australia, I had very little Japanese and this really concerned me. However, within a month, I had already improved dramatically and was then able to spend my other 4 months enjoying Japan life and learning the language.

Personal experience

My 5 months abroad in Japan was the most exciting experience of my life. I'm not even over exaggerating. I made friends from all over the world and I still contact them frequently. As my love for the Japanese language increased, as did my love for the wonderful country. Because I had a wonderful group of friends, we tried to travel to a new place every weekend which is so easy to do with the public transport in Japan. Exploring was one of the best parts of exchange. It's very important to make sure you're seeing the country and its wonders as well as making sure you stay on top of your study.

Accommodation

When on exchange at Tokai University, I lived on campus in an 'international house' dormitory. I had an absolute ball, I highly suggest living on campus when on exchange in Japan if you get the chance. After only 2 months of classes, all the exchange students knew each other because of the close proximity we live in. Some of my fondest memories were of the Halloween Party, Christmas Party and Farewell parties held for the exchange students. This gave us a chance to mingle with people from all over the world. I was the only Australian at the university but getting to meet so many wonderful people made me feel right at home. Cooking for myself was interesting at first, trying to make sure what you were buying was what you thought you were buying. But as the semester went on, shopping got easier and the kitchens became a place to share food. We at Thai, Korean, Japanese, German, Scandinavian and many other dishes from around the world. An incredible experience! If you're a music lover, there is a piano at both the men's and women's dorms as well as a ping pong table!

Budget

Living in the dormitories was really cheap! It was only about $900 for the entire semester. The cost of groceries was quite similar to Australia, however, eating out is much cheaper. Ramen and Udon places around the university are super cheap, some meals only cost 300 yen. Public transport is fantastic but depending where you go, its usually fairly cheap considering the distances.

Professional development and employability

The language skills I have developed throughout my exchange has brought me so much closer to being able to work comfortably in Japan after university. I also have many friends in Japan and exchange has given me the ability to comfortably communicate with them and be able to hold my own in a conversation.

Highlight

The highlight of my experience was definitely the people. Through studying Japanese, I have made friends from all over the world who share my love for Japan and travel. My favourite adventures in Japan revolved around my mates. Two of my favourite places was Mt Tokao which was absolutely incredible (not too far from the uni and the sunset is something you'll never forget) and snow skiing in Niseko. Seeing so much snow was an experience all by itself as we know how much you see in Australia...zero. The metres and metres of snow around Japan amazed me, it was my first winter wonderland.

Top tips

  • DON'T BE LATE TO CLASS! Its okay on the rare occasion but 'miss I slept in' isn't really considered a good reason to be late to class in Japan, especially when the dorms are on campus. 
  • Buy a really good backpack. A backpack is essential in Japan, and will become your favourite possession whilst you're over there.
  • Don't back away from an adventure! You will have so many opportunities in Japan as well as within the university itself. If a trip is offered to you, no matter how tired or busy you are, don't say no! You only have a short time in the country so grab every opportunity you can!
  • SLEEP...If you're a person who loves to get their 8-10 hrs of sleep a night, good luck to you! As well as adventuring and enjoying life in Japan, you WILL have to study. Depending on your class, you may have up to 4 assessments per week ( its mainly just memorising things) so don't worry if you're only getting 5 hours sleep a night, it's not for very long and you can sleep on the weekends! And the teachers tell you EXACTLY what you need to study!
Maddy - Tokai University