My name is Hannah Allum, I am in my 3rd year of the Bachelor of Management, Major in Tourism at the University of Technology Sydney. Before even starting my degree I always wanted to do an Exchange, the idea of living and studying in another country is one that excites me. There is not a better time to study overseas than the time at University, the University supports exchange, the Australian government supports you and the experience is credited towards your degree. I mean, why wouldn’t you?
The preparation for my exchange to Japan was not the easiest process, I found the systems and processes used in Japan for forms and applications very different to in Australia. My advice for anyone wanting to do their exchange in Japan is to be prepared for lengthy and bureaucratic form and application process. Be patient, organised and frequently check your email. Also, I only received my acceptance from the University about 4 weeks before the University started. So be prepared to wait a while for your acceptance, as hard as is be patient and if you do everything correctly, there is no reason why your application should be denied. The Visa was the easiest part, mine was completed within 3 days at the Japanese Consulate in Sydney.
I arrived a couple weeks earlier than my semester start date, I wanted to use the time to settle in and get my bearings. Japan so far has been a whirlwind of excitement, for me learning the language is a primary goal so listening and immersing myself in my surroundings has been key to picking up the language. This blog post is being written before I start my Semester, so I am going to focus on preparation for my exchange and life in Japan so far. The Japanese culture shock and language barrier are intense to say the least, it is normal to feel overwhelmed! It does feel strange starting fresh and being new again, just small things like going to the Bathroom, ordering at a restaurant, navigating the public transport all have been relatively difficult, which can be frustrating and a bit defeating, but I know this is the reason I wanted to embark on this experience. These challenging moments and that feeling of being ‘foreign’ are all part of the initial exchange experience. I also have found it surprising with the amount of people there are everywhere, all the time! It truly is the city that never sleeps, I think in Tokyo I am going to learn to become a very patient person because the number of queues there are for everything is everywhere.
The food has been a massive highlight for me so far, there are so many options and varieties of food everywhere, open all the time. I love trying new foods and Japan has so much to offer when it comes to food, all the places I have been to have extremely efficient and the Japanese hospitality is incredible. My advice is to be open and try the new things, ask the waiter what they recommend, if you are a foodie then Japan is definitely the place for you!
Moving into my accommodation at Izumi International house in Tokyo, was a very smooth process. The place is how I imagined it, and what I saw from pictures. So, there were no surprises there! I have my own room with a bathroom and shared kitchen facilities, I am excited to get to know all my neighbours. This week is settling in week/orientation, we are sorting out legal documents and picking our class timetables. For Meiji University, you only finalise your class timetable after orientation, so much later compared to UTS. So be prepared that your subjects may change and have some back up options researched, as the subjects you may have researched and wanted to take may not be offered for the semester you are attending. Again, the timetable process is very different to UTS and be prepared for a vast amount of information and forms. To get to the Nakano Campus which is my main campus for the Japanese Global Studies School (English Track program), is about 30 mins on the train from Izumi International House. The public transport system in Tokyo is insane, I find it so enjoyable to go new places and use the trains, it is like a maze figuring it all out and so satisfying when you get where you want to go. My advice for anyone wanting to do the English Track Program at Meiji, learn some basic Japanese before you go, practise Hiragana and basic Japanese and this will help you with the placement test. Life here so far has been very exciting, I am ready and enthused to start my classes, create connections and amazing memories!
Bachelor of Management
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