The opportunity to go on exchange is one that despite only starting 2 weeks prior to now, has already presented its unique challenges and opportunities. Such opportunities include that of language learning and cultural immersion. The Hakodate campus of the Hokkaido University of Education is very small compared to my home university in Australia (University of Technology Sydney). There are fewer students and classrooms, however I have noticed that this has resulted in higher levels of support being able to be provided to students. This is through wonderful programs such as student and tutor mentor programs. It also includes the presence of multiple teachers’ aides to assist those students whose first language isn’t Japanese. At first, the prospect of selecting classes seemed rather daunting (considering that the timetables provided were different and written in a different language), however the kindness and support provided by others diminished the perceived magnitude of such a task.
Living in a share house is another wonderful experience that exchange has introduced me to. My housemates are all from different countries around the world and so the only common language for most of us is Japanese. I have greatly enjoyed this challenge and have been trying to speak only in Japanese when talking to my housemates. It has enabled me to learn many new words and increase my listening skills despite being only 2 weeks into exchange.
Before coming on exchange, I was aware that a big aspect of Japanese Culture is dedication in relation to both study and work. However, since coming to Japan and experiencing the Club (or ‘circle’) Orientation Day, I have realised that similar emphasis is placed on extra-curricular activities. Everyone at my university seems to be a member of at least one club or society and at yesterday’s Orientation Day, each club presented to the first years and exchange students with videos, performances and demonstrations, showcasing their passion for their particular club or society. Dedication is a value that I have realised permeates every aspect of Japanese life. To fully immerse myself in university life I have decided to enter two ‘circles’, the Children’s Volunteer circle and the Basketball circle. The Children’s Volunteer circle engages with local children in various activities, games and events. I thought this would not only be very enjoyable but beneficial for me as I would like to become a primary school teacher.
In addition, I am greatly enjoying being able to focus solely on learning Japanese and studying it as my major this semester. In Australia, my major is Primary Education and I study Japanese as a concurrent Diploma and so I am greatly enjoying this opportunity to fully immerse myself in Japanese life, language and culture!
Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education
Hokkaido University of Education
Australian Government New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient.