Welcome to the first blog in which I will be recounting my preparations for my exchange to Japan and my expectations before leaving.
It has been a long time in the planning, I first started to look into the exchange program approximately a year ago. There has been a lot of preparation required to get to this point. The various workshops held by the UTS Global Exchange section have been of great help. Especially useful was the pre-departure workshop in which you could hear from past exchange student’s experiences.
Having been to all the workshops, applied for and received my visa, booked flights and done all my research I now find the day of my flight to Japan is rapidly approaching and I am very much looking forward to the experience of spending an entire semester studying at Hokkaido University of Education at the Hakodate campus.
The Japanese semesters start later than in Australia. The semester starts in early October 2017 with various orientations that I am required to attend in September. The semester then lasts all the way until February 2018. As such I will get the experience the Japanese seasons of autumn and winter.
The enrollment process has been smooth and straight forward. And on the accommodation front, for roughly $AUS 300 a month you can utilise the university provided apartments. From the details provided these have shared facilities with private bedrooms. As such these are very reasonably priced.
Hakodate is the southernmost city on the northern island of Hokkaido and as of 2015 is now serviced directly by the Japan Rail shinkansen (bullet trains, see image below).
As such it is possible to take a train from Tokyo (which is where I will be landing from my flight) direct to Hakodate, approximately 800km’s in a little over four hours. Previously it was necessary to stop at the city of Aomori and then swap to express trains to get to the northern island, this made the journey somewhat longer as a result (see image below).
Being on the northern island also means that the untouched wilderness of the region is also on your door step, along with very cold snowy winters. Locations like Onuma are but a short train ride away (see image below).
The focus of my studies will be a mix of Japanese language and cultural subjects. I cannot wait to spend the semester studying in Japan and being able to work with and share my experiences with the other students. My level of Japanese comprehension is fairly basic so this will be quite the challenge but one that I cannot wait to start.
It is this combination of location, along with a relatively smaller city environment and therefore its more intimate university setting and the subjects on offer that had me choose Hokkaido University of Education to be my home for the coming semester.
Daniel Chow (12593556)
UTS Degree: Bachelor in Photography and Situated Media
Host university: Hokkaido University of Education, Hakodate Campus
Exchange country: Japan