Liam – Kansai Gaidai University – Japan
Semester 2, 2022
Bachelor of Information Technology
The opportunity to study at Kansai Gaidai University (KGU), and complete an exchange semester in Japan, was both rewarding and challenging.
Exploring the cultures
I enjoyed the opportunity to interact with local Japanese students whilst also being able to connect with fellow students. By staying on-campus in KGU’s Global Commons, I had a unique experience to learn about cultures from across the world, not just Japan. By virtue of this living arrangement, I made life-long friendships that lead to some memorable in-country experiences. This included spending my mid-semester break exploring Hokkaido. My classes contained mostly exchange students, and I found myself often learning more from my peers than from my professors. The university’s location also allowed me to travel often to Kyoto and Osaka, where I was able to immerse myself in the culture of the Kansai region. KGU’s wide course offering gave me the ability to gain valuable insight into international business practice in Japan. There were very few things I did not enjoy about my exchange. The only drawbacks were the lack of flexibility in the timetabling which meant that I was in class every day. Additionally, it often felt that interactions with local students were transactional, with many Japanese students prompted by their English teachers to speak with us by assigning the interaction as a homework task.
Empowering personal growths
In addition to being an enjoyable exchange experience, I also gained valuable skills during my time in Japan. I greatly valued the opportunity to learn Japanese, a requirement for all exchange students studying at KGU. My Japanese class was my favourite course at KGU, as my teacher was extremely supportive, and I developed a good beginner grasp of Japanese by the end of my exchange. I also observed that I became more independent and self-reliant during my time in Japan. When travelling through the country, I often had to figure things out by myself and navigate difficult situations because of the language barrier. After seeing that through challenging situations, I was still able to have an enjoyable experience, I have greater confidence in my ability to travel solo. This skill was particularly important for the main challenge I faced abroad: managing my mental and emotional health. The transition from living at home with my family to living alone abroad resulted in extreme homesickness. I often felt lonely and distressed when having to manage complex situations without family support. However, I feel better able to handle my mental health going forward due to the skills I gained abroad.
Overall, I’m extremely grateful to have spent a semester abroad in Japan. It was a rewarding experience that saw me step outside my comfort zone and develop life-long friendships. I also have a deeper appreciation and understanding of Japan, its culture, and its language. I would not have developed this appreciation had I not studied abroad.
Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.