Exchange Study in Japan
Are you a student who’s going to go on an exchange to a new environment, one that is completely different from your home country? Are you going on an exchange to study a new language or to continue studying a language? If so, I understand that right now you’re probably experiencing some anxieties – or excitement – prior to boarding that plane and fly to the country you’ll be living in.
If you’re currently nervous or anxious about going on your exchange, I want you to take a deep breath and clear your mind. Let me tell you what, no matter how scary it seems to be in the beginning, at the end of the day there’s no point in freaking out over it (duh).
A lot of people cope by watching many youtube videos on how to prepare for your exchange, I’m included. Some other people turn to reading other people’s blogs about their exchange testimonials; which is exactly why I’m currently writing this for you.
I’m a Bachelor of Arts degree student at the University of Queensland, studying Japanese as my extended major. In order to finish my degree, I decided to go on an exchange – because what better way to finish your degree than going on a study-holiday trip that is exchange program, am I right?
I studied at Kwansei Gakuin University (関西学院大学) in Osaka, Japan. Kwansei Gakuin University, colloquially known as Kangaku, is a non-denominational Christian private and coeducational university in Japan. The university has a central campus in the city of Nishinomiya, and also has satellite campuses in Nishinomiya, Sanda, Osaka, and Tokyo.
My campus is the Nishinomiya Uegahara branch, around 40 minutes away from central Osaka. The area is very suburban, quiet and overall just a very nice place to live in; not too crowded and not too noisy.
Prior to applying for this exchange, I wasn’t entirely sure that this program would benefit me much, but now that I’ve gone through it, I assure you that this exchange would definitely benefit you in so many different ways.
I have to admit, before coming to Japan I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t get to improve my target language very much. I mean, let’s be honest, I’m an exchange student and it will definitely be hard for me to get any native friends because a lot of people are shy to talk to foreigners. I expected to fall into the exchange students group and not having the opportunity to improve my target language skills. But I was proven wrong!
Most Japanese students want to practice their English or have someone to check their English assignments for them, in return you can ask them to speak Japanese and check your Japanese submissions! I was scared that they’d always want to talk to you in English and so I wouldn’t have any chance to practice my Japanese, but it turned out that, I ended up speaking more Japanese anyway! Why? Because in the classes I took, I ended up with people from overseas who did not understand English very well, and so I could only communicate with them in Japanese. Before I knew it, I was already comfortable speaking in Japanese to the point where I even talked to my other exchange student friends in Japanese.
This brings me to my next point, going on exchange will leave you with so many friends. Which is a good thing, by the way. When you’re on the other side of the world, away from friends, family, and home, you’re going to end up feeling lonelier than ever. This is where you need to make the effort to go out there and be sociable, it’s not easy, I know I’m an awkward introvert myself, I get anxious and nervous during social meetings, but I really do recommend you to try and make as many friends as you can. Because it is worth it. When you have no one in a country you barely know, having an anchor is important and will be very healthy for your state of mind. You’re also going to have a lot of connections worldwide, and I don’t know about you, but personally that’s a good thing. Why? Because I now have a place to stay in and a friend to travel with if I ever visit Nebraska, Malaysia, and New Zealand! Sometimes, friendships that you made on a short amount of time will be the ones that worth a lifetime.
As mentioned before, I’m shy and very awkward. I feel like through the exchange program, I’ve changed slowly but surely to be a person who’s more comfortable at social meetings and open to the idea of socializing. I’m also a very clumsy and uncoordinated person, but after going to this exchange I realize I’ve been more independent and organized than before. I realize that I’ve always kept my work on track and get them done before their deadlines so that I would have time to travel over the weekend and not stay at home doing my work.
Meeting new people and building long-lasting relationships are the highlight of my experience. I was quite the introvert prior going on this exchange, but after meeting a lot of new people and build a connection with them, I was able to break free of my shell and learn to be the new me that I’ve always wanted to be. Going on the exchange helped me a lot and changed me to be a better person, I’m glad that I went.
Some of important things to remember when going on an exchange is: always reach out to other people no matter how shy or how anxious you are in social occasions. Always try out new things that you’ve never tried before and don’t limit yourself, because otherwise you’re bound to miss out on so many new things that are there for the taking and accessible for you to experience.
Not wanting to get out of your comfort zone defeats the whole purpose of going on an exchange. You might as well just stay at home and don’t waste your money.
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