Time Of My Life In Nagoya

Christina Z., Bachelor of Creative Industries / Bachelor of Law (Honours)
Meijo University, Japan (Semester 2, 2018)

I never thought in my entire life that I would ever do karaoke. Before my exchange I was quite shy; a little quiet around people I didn’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I love singing, just not in front of other people. I was afraid that people might judge me and that I wasn’t good at it. However in Japan I found my voice, literally and figuratively. If it is one thing that Japanese people do well it is karaoke. It doesn’t matter if you are bad, average, or sound like Whitney Houston. It just matters that you put yourself out there and that you enjoyed the experience.

Meeting new friends!

Life on campus was fairly good for the most part, however being one of three Caucasian students in the whole school definitely made you stand out. It was a bit strange at first but you get used to the staring and such. Meijo University also set me up with a job in an area of the university that they call Global Plaza. This area was where students could come to study English and practice conversation. Through being a conversation partner I was able to make a lot of friends and get more involved with university life. The facilities were quite well kept, there were even tennis courts, a gymnasium and computer labs. Accommodation wise the room I stayed in comes with everything you will need – bathroom, kitchen, mini fridge, desk, and bed and storage space. It was small but honestly you don’t need that much space, and an added benefit was that you got to live alone too. It was great being so close to the university (a three minute walk), the train station, bank, restaurants and convenience stores. The study aspect of my exchange was surprisingly quite simple and definitely not as busy as QUT. I only had to go in once a week for one class and the assessments were generally not stressful.

Nagoya and surrounds

Placing myself in a completely new environment with different customs and a completely different culture was very eye-opening. People would always tell me that going on exchange changed their lives, and I would always nod along even if I didn’t quite believe them. Well, I should have. Now I can truly say that going to Japan and studying abroad has definitely changed me forever. I have met so many different people while I was over there. They came from places such as France, Austria, Turkey, America and even Korea. I have a lot of friends in different places now, and being away from them has taught me about how important making connections is. With them I got to experience the wonders of Japan; from New Year’s shrine visits, autumn leaves and hot springs, all the way to snowboarding, all you can drink izakaya’s, and the infamous 24 hour convenience stores. Japan is very big on their nightlife. Even in Nagoya people stay out quite late to socialise and drink. There is a reason why those convenience stores are open at all hours.

Friends at a local Pub

Another fantastic thing that happened was that I got to see snow for the very first time. I felt like a child when I woke up that morning and looked out my window. I didn’t even take time out to have a shower before I dressed and left my room. I spent two hours outside that day playing in the snow with my friend Stone. We made snowwomen, threw snow balls off the rooftop of our apartment building and overall just had a great time being 5 years old again.

First time seeing snow

Despite the big cultural differences I didn’t have the huge culture shock that everyone was expecting me to when I first arrived. However as I spent more time integrating into the culture there were a few things that surprised me. In my case, Japan had such a lack of cultural diversity that I found it hard to blend in. I would stand out wherever I went and people did treat you differently because they knew you weren’t from there. However that is not always a bad thing. Another thing I did not expect was the separation of sexes at a university level. Usually, that happens in primary school and sometimes high school but it dissipates as you get into university. In Japan, however, there are no co-ed sports teams, friends sit apart in class (boys with boys and girls with girls) and no one really hugs over here. Finally, Christmas is another occasion that has a completely different meaning in Japan than it does in Australia. Everyone still goes to work and school on Christmas Day, in fact, it is seen as a day for couples. However New Years is when everyone has time off and goes to be with their family.

Exploring Nagoya with friends

For anyone looking to go overseas and study, I would say to go without expectations and keep an open mind. That way you can really be involved in things you might not have thought you would be. I loved my life there and I was very sad to leave it behind, but I am so grateful I got to experience Japan.

 

 

 

 

 

Always things to do

I budgeted around $4000 of my own money, my youth allowance and the $4000 QUT scholarship. However NUCB required prepayment of rent for one semester students before I received the scholarship. I had to actually borrow money from my parents to cover the shortfall as it was $4000 and I had already purchased my airfare.

Generally about Y15,000 easily covered my weekly expenses and left me a little to go out with. I was lucky and received a Y25,000 monthly scholarship which covered the shortfall from my youth allowance for my weekly expenses. I found it sometimes difficult to stick to my budget as there were always things to do, places to visit or new foods to try. So I often broke my budget a little when I was sightseeing outside of Nagoya.

I think the cost of living is lower than Brisbane, excluding rent (I don’t know what Brisbane’s rent is since I still live with my parents), as you can eat and travel cheaper.  There were lots of relatively cheap restaurants near the dorm and the convenience stores sold cheap bento. I got a prepaid travel card that saved my money for my uni travel but also let me ride for free between certain stations. NUCB also had half price bus tickets which was brilliant.

I generally used a travel money card and net banking instead of using an Australian card as it tend to charge extra overseas. Getting a bank account in Japan was fairly difficult and NUCB did not recommend getting one unless you were working while studying or staying there for a year. However it was annoying that I could only withdraw money at 7-11 and post office. ATMs and many businesses would not accept a foreign card. You are required to pay Japanese health insurance but it’s not expensive at about $20 per month and worth it if you visit the dentist or need to visit a doctor.

Studying Business from a different perspective

I studied only business and culture courses while at NUCB. Studying business from the perspective of a different culture as well as learning more about that culture and its history was very interesting. English not being the native language was not a problem due to how all the teachers and exchange staff spoke English. Although sometimes some of the teachers had trouble understanding and answering questions.

I think the academic intensity was higher due to more classes, but the actual assessment was a bit easier. Unlike QUT, lectures were more common, with less classroom work and interaction except for in culture class and innovation management. Presentations were used as assessment in every class, and were generally 20-30min or full period presentations long. This was a great opportunity to work with other students. Every class has a final exam, unlike QUT, this was a bit more stressful as exam period was over 5 days and you had to do around 7-10 exams, sometimes 3-4 per day depending on your courses.

Accommodation at NUCB

Accommodation at NUCB

My accommodation was a private dorm room. It came with furniture, bedding, a pan, dishes and cutlery and also had air-conditioning, a washing machine and a private bathroom. However the kitchen was rather small and only had one burner which made cooking somewhat difficult. But the large range of relatively cheap food available nearby meant I didn’t have to cook every night. It was located close to transport and NUCB while being walking distance vicinity of downtown Nagoya which was great. NUCB also had a share house and another dorm building in different areas; and are currently building a new dorm near Sakae.

Fourth best Business School in Japan

Nagoya University of Commerce & Business (NUCB) is the 4th best Business school in Japan according to Eduniversal and its business courses are consistently ranked highly within Japan and Asia. Nagoya also has lower living costs compared to Tokyo and is more centrally located. I had also heard that NUCB ten to organise field trips for its exchange students. As it turned out, the trips and events organised by NUCB were very fun and educational.

I got the opportunity to hike a world heritage pilgrim trail, attend the NUCB school festival, and visit the Toyota factory. I would also not have been able to visit the Kii mountain range or experience a school festival without NUCB organising them.

Toyota Factory Visit

Toyota Factory Visit

Japan is a country with a long history and an amazing culture. It’s almost hard to believe sometimes that you are visiting a 15th century castle or a city that is over a millennia old. Nagoya is located near the middle of Japan’s main island. It’s under an hour from Kyoto and two hours from Tokyo by bullet train. So it was very convenient for trips to Kyoto, Takayama and Shirakawa-go.

The undergrad campus is actually located outside Nagoya in Nisshin city, about 45 min away by train and bus. Nisshin campus has lots of sports facilities and clubs to join; for example: archery, snowboarding, baseball and comedy clubs. But unlike QUT it is not located near a city so it is not easy to leave campus to grab lunch due the 15-20 min bus trip and irregular bus times. They do have a good and cheap cafeteria that serves ramen, curry and set meals as well as a Mos Burger and 7-11 on campus.