I have just hit Day-50 of my exchange here at Kansai Gaidai University, and I still don’t understand how the days are going by so quickly. I have already met so many friends from around the world, visited many of the go-to places in the Kansai region, as well as found some hidden gems in my own local town. Although everything was so confusing and a tad overwhelming at first, I was able to settle in just fine!
When I first arrived at KIX Airport, I was so nervous and didn’t really know what to do from there. However, Kansai Gaidai University (KGU) was very organised and integrated a pick-up service as part of the Orientation schedule. This was honestly a lifesaver because I got to the dorms safely and also ended up meeting a lot of my close friends at the airport itself! Overall, the orientation was very helpful as the university held sessions that explained important things like road signs, manners, experiences of other students etc.
At KGU, majority of the foreign exchange students enrol into the Asian Studies Program, where you are required to take a Japanese language class, as well as a minimum of three other cultural/language classes of your choice. There is a large range of interesting classes related to Japanese culture that you can take that are not usually offered in Australia. For example, some of my friends are taking a class about Japanese monsters and ghosts. In my opinion, classes here run similarly to an Australian high school system in which the classes are kind of a mix between a lecture and a tutorial, and where there are five periods per day. I generally have two classes per day but am lucky enough to have one weekday completely free, leaving me plenty of time to explore.
At KGU there are two campuses that classes run in. Both campuses have amazing facilities for students to use such as 3-4 storey libraries, student lounges, study areas, on-campus Seven-Elevens, cafeterias and close-by restaurants! The Gotenyama campus, also known as “Global Town”, is very new (around two years old) and is also the location of an on-campus Starbucks and the student dorms – where both exchange and Japanese students can live. I’m currently living in the dorms and really enjoy it. Although everyone has their own room, you can still hang out with all your friends in the communal lounges and kitchens.
Since Kansai Gaidai is in the city of Hirakata, it’s around 30 minutes – 1 hour away from Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Kobe. This makes it super easy to sight-see and check off a lot of things on my Japan bucket list. Even in Hirakata itself, there are plenty of things to do like arcades, Izakaya’s, 100-yen stores, parks etc, and many of the students and teachers recommend places to see!
Overall, I’ve been loving both my university and my exchange experience so far. My tips would be to try and utilise a lot of the free time you have (even on weekdays; before or after class) and go explore! I have also found that more local areas where there are less tourists have given me more enjoyable experiences and time to interact with locals.
So, if you are still on the fence about going on exchange, don’t overthink and just do it! I guarantee you will love every second of it 😊
Bachelor of Engineering, Diploma in Languages
Kansai Gaidai University
Australian Government New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient.
For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au