Chen Lang (Joyce) Yu
Bachelor of Design (Architectural Studies) (Honours)
Host university: Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan
So it’s a bit of a childhood dream to go on exchange in Japan and study Japanese. Using the elective credits that I had with my architectural course, I was grateful to have been given the opportunity to go to Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. Kyoto is pretty much on every tourist’s list to visit if they came to Japan, the city is scattered with temples, shrines, museums and historical places that reminisce of a time when Kyoto was the country’s imperial capital. Living here only served to reinforce that. There are endless little niches of culture, old and new, traditional and modern, living side by side each other and it’s quite incredible.
I applied to Ritsumeikan University for the SKP (Study in Kyoto) program that they offer for international students, specifically the IJL (Intensive Japanese Learning track). Coming here in late March, I was able to catch the cherry blossom season and it was quite spectacular. Unfortunately, these flowers don’t last long, about a week or two at most, so during this time we made the most going around places and enjoying the flower viewing (or Hanami).
For the semester, I undertook Japanese lessons every day and each week there would be so much language content to be learned – grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation etc. I must admit, it was somewhat stressful, but at the same time I have learned a lot. Going from almost no Japanese language experience to being able to hold simple conversation with local Japanese students, the progress was slow but rewarding.
Luckily, Ritsumeikan University offers dormitory housing for international students, which saved me the hassle of looking for my own accommodation. By far the dorm life was one of the most rewarding experiences for me and my stay in Kyoto. I was able to meet and make friends with people from all over the world who also shared my enthusiasm for studying Japanese and learning its culture. These people have become some lifelong friends that I hope to be able to visit them in their part of the world.