Dylan - Kyoto University

B Science
Semester 2, 2018
The bonds formed during this exchange is precious and is one that I will cherish. Accommodation

Academic experience

I took Introduction to evolution, practical computing for biologist, molecular and cell biology of reproduction, critical thinking and communication, introduction to behavioral neuroscience and lastly, culture and traditions in japan. Although Japanese is mainly spoken in the country and university, most of the staff, especially those involved in the enrollment for exchange students were able to speak English. Hence, everything went smoothly upon settling down and registering for classes. 

The classes in Japan is really unique as there is a fixed lunch timing between 12-1pm and no classes will be held in this time. As classes are held in 1.5 hours block, I really enjoyed how the lecturers were able to deliver and explain the content in details without rushing.

Personal experience

Being the ancient capital of Japan, there are a abundance of temples and shrines in Kyoto, I really enjoyed visiting each and every one of those shrines. I even got a book called "goshuin-cho" which you can bring to temples and get it "signed" for a small fee. This acts like a record to all the shines and temples that you have visited and is also very popular with the locals!

As I was staying in one of the university dormitory, I was able to form friendships with people all over the world! From New Zealand to China to America and even Europe! Close to my dormitory, there was a mountain called Mt. Hiei where my newly found friends and I went to hike shortly after knowing each other! The hiking experience had bonded us together and we became good friends after that. The bonds formed during this exchange is precious and is one that I will cherish.

Accommodation

The dormitory that I stayed in is called "Shugakuin International House" and it belonged to the university but it was off campus. It takes around 20 minutes by bike to the university but the rent is really cheap(~AUD200/month) and it is surrounded by supermarkets, convenience stores and bakery(all within 3 minutes walk). On the way to the university, there is a street nicknamed "ramen street" due to many ramen stores on both sides of the street. The ramen sold there is one of the most delicious ramen I have ever tasted. My personal advice? Go for Shugakuin International House if you are ever going to Kyoto University for an exchange!

Costs

It costs around AUD1.5k per month to live comfortably but you can pretty much get by with AUD1k per month if you do not splurge a lot on food.

Challenge

While skiing during the weekends in Hyogo prefecture, I dislocated my shoulder. and had to go to the hospital. It is a little difficult to explain my situation to the doctors and nurses and fill up the registration form(as it was in Japanese) when I was in the hospital as they do not speak much English and my Japanese is very poor. Luckily, my friend who is quite good in Japanese was able to help fill out the registration form and to talk to the staff. If I was alone, I would probably have taken twice the amount of time trying to get those things done.

Professional Development

In my critical thinking and communication class, I have picked up skills that were essential to writing better quality reports. With those skills, I am now more confident in my writing and it will also come in handy for my future assignments and scientific report writing in my career.

Highlight

I have always wanted to live in Kyoto as I am interested in Japanese culture and language. Being able to live in Kyoto like a local, attending cultural festivals and even picking up a traditional Japanese martial art(Kendo) is the best part of this exchange!

Top tips

Do not be shy to talk to the local students! Kyoto University students are able to converse in English but are often too shy to do so. So you should be the one to initiate the conversation and you will realize that it is really easy to befriend them!