Skip to content

Japan: Continuous Surprises

Having visited Japan a few times before, I had a rough idea what Japanese culture was like before undertaking exchange. However, living here for just under two months has been filled with many surprises and it has been really exciting to be continuously exposed to new experiences!

I’ve only ever been exposed to the major cities in Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka) and had never heard of Mito, let alone Ibaraki prefecture before this exchange. Being around 2 hours north-east of Tokyo, it’s definitely a lot quieter than metropolitan areas, but the people are so welcoming and there is no shortage of things to do. The initial culture shock was really obvious here, because hardly anyone speaks fluent English, but within a few weeks of constantly using Japanese (and doing a lot of dictionary checking!) I can really feel it starting to pick up.

11008509_10152892803562984_7547643756436583721_n11150526_10152892803532984_1719996874292630035_n

11026192_10152892803937984_4623992031482403990_n1907523_10152892804017984_457641813237184661_n

Two places in Mito that are well-known are Senbako Lake and Kairakuen Park – one of the best things to do around here on a sunny day is to ride around the bicycle track at Senbako or go for a picnic at Kairakuen. If it’s not holiday season it’s usually not busy and in Spring most of the flowers were still in bloom.

11182179_10152892808257984_822833085720404536_n11150516_10152892803967984_2551650104818234418_n

11150704_10152892804117984_4803965402153539066_n

In comparison to Australia, most things are cheaper – a good meal out will cost around anything from 400-700 yen, or around $5-10. The kinds of foods available are also really diverse, with Japanese cuisine, western burger joints and even sri-lankan restaurants all being located in the university vicinity and choosing a place to eat out at is always difficult!

11058279_10152919777552984_3945595718092346532_n 11202623_10152892816422984_264818910327710265_n

Another really great place in Ibaraki prefecture is Hitachi Seaside Park, which is about 30 minutes away by car or around an hour by public transport. The flowers are different depending on the season and I’ve been lucky to see it during both daffodil season and the nemophilia/baby blue eyes season! Hopefully in summer and autumn I’ll get the chance to go back and see the cochia too, from what I’ve heard and seen it’s really impressive!

11146553_10152892808632984_4823443922573941945_n11150866_10152892808407984_7286508146154285427_n

11025166_10152899424912984_500028985816286852_n-211210452_10152899424862984_8228804386758379704_n-2

S_B812C7DB03AB4E2005938097DC29FB3D.15051106

2 hours mights seem far for a commute to Tokyo, but it’s close enough to make day trips, and far away enough to get away from the crowded city life. I’ve visited Tokyo a few times now, once to go to Kanagawa and visit the Kanama-Matsuri and another time to go to Design Festa – a huge convention where people have booths to sell anything from artwork to figures and jewellery/clothes.

11150935_10152917732232984_6223308949337806899_n 11014916_10152917731687984_4276059356930634203_n

11012990_10152892803377984_4175454568530344351_n

11017683_10152917731767984_7088005584635027761_n11267491_10152917732147984_1300773964829750945_n

Studying here has been a really good experience since the Japanese tertiary education system is slightly different from Australia. Apart from taking Japanese language classes, at Ibaraki University it is a requirement that you take an additional 2 classes minimum. The university offers a handful of classes taught in English, but in order to challenge myself and also cater to my interests (being a design major) the university also offers design/art classes. Understanding the classes has been a bit difficult, but also really rewarding in terms of doing the assignments and seeing the differences in they way the classes are taught.

11180318_10152892803597984_1893110109283855265_n 11255786_10152917731832984_4162665032090490442_n

A major difference between  visiting and living in Japan is definitely the paperwork – the first few weeks was filling out a lot of forms (most of which I couldn’t read) but everyone is so helpful and accommodating to making sure that you settle in just fine. The university provides accommodation for international students, and although it might seem a bit small by Australian standards, it’s low maintenance and has everything you need for everyday life. It’s also a 15 minute walk to the university (or a 5-10 minute bike ride) and close to a convenience store and 24-hour supermarket – even if it might be regarded as rural, Japan never fails on the convenience level!

 tumblr_nmdi985tSk1upzljpo1_500tumblr_nmu41mNNlE1upzljpo1_1280

tumblr_nmkvkiYhmS1upzljpo1_1280

Despite the language barriers, I’ve been able to learn about not only Japanese culture, but the cultures of all the other students doing exchange – many of which are also non-English speaking countries. Although I’ve only been here for around two months I’ve learnt so much, and I’m excited to see what the rest of my time here has to offer!

– Sarah Lim 11391012

Categories

Japan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: