Ciao Italy!

Andrew P., Master of Business Process Management
Politecnico Di Milano, Italy (Semester 1, 2016,)

Host University

I went on exchange at Politecnico di Milano (Polimi) in Semester 1, 2016 at the Leonardo campus. It is a widely respected university in Europe with a rich history in engineering.

Note in Europe, their semesters are reversed which means our 1st semester is their 2nd. Polimi semesters start around 3 weeks after the QUT equivalent so you might (will) miss the first few weeks of your next semester when you return.

Most units will consist of two 2hr lectures and one final exam during the exam period. You get 2 attempts to pass the exam. This all-or-nothing final examination approach threw me off compared to how it’s done in QUT so you’ll need to self-manage your own studies from day one (my lectures were not recorded). If you are going in your first semester (QUT), try extending your stay to include their September exam session which will allow you to have 2 extra attempts to pass the exam as a precaution.

I found an apartment before arriving using a website called Uniplaces. They provide an intermediary in case you find the apartment not to your liking. I paid for a single room in a 2-bedroom apartment which cost me 500euro per month. This is average price you should expect to pay. Luckily, I’ve had no problems with my accommodation (and I’ve heard stories).

Host Country

I enjoyed my time in Italy and you can survive speaking only English but I would definitely recommend learning Italian before and during exchange. It definitely makes the experience so much more rewarding. I had a lot of fun interacting with my fellow international students via Polimi’s free language classes.

Milan is an expensive city to live in, compared to Brisbane. Try and buy whatever you need at the street markets scattered throughout the city.

Highlights

  • I’m a football fan and it was great to watch (and attend) quality games within normal hours!
  • The sun doesn’t set until 9pm which allows you to make the most of the day. It’s definitely something I immediately miss upon returning.
  • Joining the ERASMUS group and making new friends. They do plenty of trips and social events. Great fun!
  • Italians have a tradition called Aperitivo. By purchasing a beverage, you have full access to the buffet they set out in the afternoon. It’s a social and financial lifeline for students!

Tips

Before Leaving

  • If you’re planning on taking a credit card (recommended) try getting one that gives you complementary travel insurance if you use the card to pay for your flights or accommodation. I knew a few students who went travelling after the study period.
  • Don’t forget your stationary
  • Pack light, you’ll be bringing back more than you can imagine.
  • A laptop is essential.
  • Try to get as many transfer units as possible. There may be circumstances in which you won’t be able to do some of the units that you applied for. Be prepared to have overlapping units.
  • I used a Citibank Plus account for cash withdrawals and a 28 Degrees account for credit card purchases and highly recommend both.

During Exchange

  • Apply for an ATM Transport Card. Renew every month for 22euro at the Metro Stations.
  • I signed on to Vodafone prepaid plan as it also allows cheap data roaming in other countries (5euro per day). The other big telecoms Wind and TIM do not provide this.
  • Applying for a Permesso di Sogiorno (Permit to stay) is a very daunting experience. I actually got my card a couple of weeks before I was set to leave!

Cheese and Baguettes? Oui Oui!

Relicia G., Bachelor of Fine Arts/ Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
Catholique Universitie de Lille, France (Semester 1, 2017)

Exchange is honestly going to be the best decision you ever
make. If you’re going to the Catholique Universitie de Lille,
then there are a few simple things that can help you adjust
to life in France.

Catholique Universitie de Lille

My suggestion, if you want to be close to campus, is to
definitely stay in the AEU student housing. We don’t really
have the opportunity to be completely immersed in student
life this way in Brisbane, so it’s a very unique experience.
More importantly, it’s also where you’ll make most of
your friends, go to fun events sponsored by the AEU
and be involved in a lot of school activities. Plus you
get free breakfast!

Free breaky!

The way the schooling system works is a lot like the
Australian high school, you’ll be at class 5 days a
week and you’ll have a lot of subjects to do. But
luckily, these subjects will not be as difficult as the four units we do at QUT.
So never fear, you’ll have plenty of time to have fun!
There are a lot of multicultural projects that you can be involved in such as
sport, dancing and photography. My favorite was the gastronomy project, where
you can get together with a group of French and
other exchange students, and essentially just eat!
You get to enjoy allot of foreign cuisines, and
learn about culture and traditions from other
nationalities.


There are also a lot of sport teams you can join,
such as basketball, handball and badminton. I
strongly suggest that you get involved in as many of
these projects and teams as possible because that’s
where you’ll get your best experiences!
It’s also a smart idea to familiarize yourself with the
public transport systems, as that is what you will be
primarily using to get around. The metro and bus
systems are pretty cheap, but the train gets very
expensive if you have to use it last minute.

Some funky facts about France:
– There are entire isles dedicated to cheese and wines
– You have to eat the baguettes in one day or else they’ll go off
– Classes usually start at 8am
– It rains constantly (and for some reason only tourists use umbrellas)
– If you’re there during the winter, bring a coat because it’s going to get
REALLY cold
– Everything is closed on Sundays. EVERYTHING.
– You won’t need to buy books, everything is either
emailed to you or given in class (like
highschool)
– Familiarized yourself with bisous, I guarantee
your going to have strangers come up to you
expecting it
– If someone invites you over for lunch or dinner, expect it to take at
least 3 hours minimum
– If you need something done, by any French association, double the
time you’d expect it to take, then add an extra 2 weeks
– Be wary of the smelly cheese

But the most important thing to remember is:
HAVE FUN!

Hej from Sweden!

Jordan S., Bachelor of Engineering
Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden (Semester 2, 2016)

Hej jag heter Jordan Simpson! I undertook an exchange semester at Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg (Gothenburg) Sweden during the second semester of 2016!

Host University

Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg

I found that life on campus at Chalmers is quite different to QUT. A few of the main differences I found was the block scheduling of courses, the really cheap lunches they provide, and the amount of leisure activity rooms. I found the block scheduling of classes to be quite good; it meant not having to deal with class registration and ending up with a shocking timetable.  It even usually allowed for one or two free days a week! Chalmers also offered really cheap and decent quality/sized meals each day for 40kr (which is approx. $6.50). Chalmers also had heaps of buildings that could be used for all sorts of leisure activities (indoor soccer/basketball, rock climbing, even a billiard area!).

Accommodation can be quite hard to come by for the local university students of Gothenburg wishing to move out of their parent’s place. These students have to start queuing to find a place when they are in grade 9 or 10 in high school! However, being an international student, Chalmers and SGS Studentböstader (a student housing company) offers priority 1 when looking for accommodation during your stay in Gothenburg.

From an academics standpoint, Chalmers is very different to QUT. The main difference being that instead of taking 4 courses over a semester, the semester is broken up into two study periods. Each study period lasts 8 weeks, and during this time you take 2 courses. This means that the courses are a lot heavier, but leads to a much easier time during exam block period.

Host Country

City of Gothenburg

The cost of living is almost identical to Australia, only major difference being the alcohol prices in their bottle shops. Getting around in Gothenburg is very easy! The public transport system is phenomenal (well almost anything is compared to my hometown, Mackay).  There are many trams and busses running all the time to get you to where you need to go. If you want to see a bit more of Sweden there are also plenty of top quality trains to take!

I found the culture of Sweden to be quite similar to our own. With one notable difference being people keep to themselves at first so you have to really initiate conversation. But once you start to get them talking they are just as friendly and inviting as we are! If you are also wondering how the language barrier is, I can assure you that it is almost non-existent. Almost every Swedish person I met was able to speak English perfectly and switched to it as soon as they knew you only spoke English!

One of the cool things I really enjoyed about my time in Sweden was actually being able to experience the four seasons of the year! My favourite time of the year was Autumn as I found it cool to see everything go orange, and actually see the physical change from Summer.

Highlights/Tips

It’s hard to choose highlights from my exchange as the whole experience has been absolutely fantastic.  One of the many highlights was being able to meet so many people from different countries.  I got to experience bits and pieces of their cultures and share some from mine, while also learning about the Swedish culture with them.  However, one of my favourite times during this exchange was when my mates and I went for a weekend in Stockholm before going on a 3-day cruise to Talin, Estonia.

Northern lights in Lapland

The best tip I can give is get involved with CIRC (Chalmers’ International Student Society), and make sure to go to all of their events during the first few weeks so you can meet heaps of people that eventually make a good group of friends! Also, the one event I highly recommend (which I personally didn’t get to go to but all of my friends did) is the Lapland trip! During this you travel to the far north of Sweden and get to experience ridiculously cold temperatures, go dog sledging, and see the Northern Lights!

 

Make lifelong friendships in Canada!

Sarah C., Bachelor of Business (Marketing)/Behavioural Science (Psychology)
University of Waterloo, Canada (Semester 1, 2018)

For my semester abroad, I attended the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada and completed subjects for my Bachelor of Psychology. Waterloo is a somewhat small town, largely populated by college students a few hours away from Toronto and Niagara Falls. I lived in an off-campus housing at the WCRI which is located just across the street from the university. Choosing to live at WCRI was the best decision I could have made as this is where I met most of my friends and it was a popular choice among other exchange students. As I was surrounded by other exchange students, there was always someone else who was trying to find the same building as me, wanted to make new friends or wanted to travel around Ontario.

Kayaking with five other exchange students at Algonquin Provincial Park

 

The university provided students with chances to travel around Ontario by making different trips available with the ICSN (International Canadian Student Network); these included trips to see the Toronto Blue Jays versus New York Yankees baseball game, a day at Niagara Falls and a hiking trip to see the leaves changing.

Niagara Falls

 

The cost of living in Waterloo is lower than in Brisbane, with my accommodation being especially cheap considering it was right next to campus as well as bus travel in the Waterloo-Kitchener Region being free for university students. Culturally, I would say that Canada is rather similar to Australia, however, their university culture is quite different from QUT. The University of Waterloo is highly focused on academics, with most students taking 5 or more subjects per semester.  For each of my psychology subjects, there were no assignments, and just 3-4 exams over the semester, which was a lot different than I was used to at QUT.

I would say that my semester on exchange was one of the best times in my life. I met many amazing people from countries all over the world such as Sweden, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and of course, Canada. I have learnt things about these countries that I probably would have never known otherwise, and taught them things about living in Australia and Brisbane.

I am so grateful to QUT for the opportunity to go on exchange and I’m very happy with myself that I chose the University of Waterloo. It was a lovely campus with friendly people and I can honestly say that I have made lifelong friends and made memories that I will always value.

Re-imagining India: Three Parts Exhilarating, One Part Exhausting

Alicia Shorey, Bachelor of Design

Short-term Program: Reimagining India Experiential Learning Program

India (December 2018)

What can I say other than it is an experience of a lifetime. The Re-imagining India program is 3 parts exhilarating and one-part exhausting, but amazing none the less.

Taj Mahal

Over the course of two weeks I was submerged into Indian culture and dipped into a world so full of vibrancy that it allowed me to open my eyes up to so many different ways of thinking. The photos showcase a glimpse of my journey through Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur which consisted of morning yoga and Bollywood classes, industry and NGO visits, cultural sites and beyond.

Vibrant Elephants in India

A highlight of mine was Jaipur Foot which is an organisation which provides free prosthetic limbs to those in need. While there, we were able to see how the organisation operated and see first-hand how this organisation is restoring faith in many people. Being able to watch a limb being fitted and its instant effect on a person’s life was indescribable and something I’ll never forget.

Jaipur Foot

The program overall was jam-packed with a variety of activities to fit all interests. Delicious meals were provided every day and the overall cost of the trip excluding flights is next to nothing. What are you waiting for?

The program had activities to suit all interests

Getting Creative in Glasgow

Anna Banszel, Bachelor of Design (Architecture) 

Short-term Program: University of Glasgow ‘Scottish Urban Landscapes in Film and Glass’

Scotland (July 2018)

While Brisbane shivered this winter I was over in sunny Britain studying Scottish Urban
Landscape in Film and Glass at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA). This intense
one-week course combined research with technical experience in the renowned
photography and glass workshops at the GSA.

Through my research I discovered that Glasgow has been settled since prehistoric
times and rapidly expanded during the 16th century when traders and craftspeople
converged in the city. Glasgow still maintains that legacy of quality of craftsmanship,
with the GSA being an exemplar of world-class art education.

On day one and two I learnt 35mm photography. With a camera provided by the
university I roamed the gritty streets of Glasgow capturing moments of urbanity in
one of the most beautiful and diverse cities I have ever experienced. Developing my
film in the dark rooms was both technically and creatively challenging. There is a lot of
scope for creative expression after the film is shot. In making my prints from my
negatives I experimented with exposure and filter to get the results I was after.

Photography lab.

For days three to five we moved into the glass studios to learn glass art. The
photographs I developed on my first two days informed the design of my bespoke
stained glass panel. In this studio I learnt how to design my panel, cut the glass,
solder the lead, apply the putty between the lead and glass and paint the glass.

Glass art studio.

On the last day all the international students were invited to a gathering were we
met other students and saw the work people had produced. All the staff at GSA
were really friendly and approachable. Though it’s part of huge university the vibe
at the GSA is more like a boutique studio run by artists who value collaboration and
push the creative boundaries.

Glass and photos.

Before I took this course, I’ll admit Glasgow was never on my list of places to see. I
had been to Edinburgh and the Scottish highlands and considered Scotland ticked
off my travel list. Big mistake – Glasgow is brilliant! If you’re after culture it’s home
to fine institutions like the Scottish Ballet, if you want a social atmosphere head to
the West End and explore the bars. If you want history there are loads of museums
and if fancy gardens the Glasgow Botanic Gardens can take a whole day to
explore. It doesn’t get dark till after 10pm either, so you can take your time. One of
my favourite nights out was seeing Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in the
Botanic Gardens for five pounds.

Glasgow skyline.

Glasgow university.

I stayed at the GSA accommodation where I had my own ensuite room. It was
modern and clean with a shared kitchen with all the facilities needed to cook meals.
With so many places to eat out I only really used the kitchen for breakfasts but if I’d
been there for longer I would have been cooking up a storm. Washing machines
were also available for laundry, it was five minutes walk from the studios and
staffed until 7pm every day. Price of living is similar to Australia. For lunch I usually
went to a convenience store and got a sandwich or salad for about $5 AUD. Once I
was in Glasgow I walked everywhere, or took a black cab if it was late at night.
Getting to Glasgow from London or Edinburgh is easiest by rail and prices are
lower if you book online in advance.

My experience at GSA differed from my experience at QUT in that GSA was all
studio based. Other than that it was similar – we learnt the techniques, studied the
context and worked from a design brief under the guidance of our tutors.

If I could offer advice to anyone considering taking this course is to go with an open
mind and willingness to push yourself creatively. I’d also recommend you give
yourself a few days either side of your course to explore the city and meet some
locals. I extended my trip to three weeks to visit London and Copenhagen. It was
great to have that down time to balance the trip with work and play.
My only complaint about this course was that it wasn’t long enough!

Me in London.

A Guide to Life at Aarsus University

Mathew Verwater, Bachelor of Business/laws

Short-term program: “Experience Summer at Aarhus University”

Denmark (July/August 2018)

Host University

  1. Academics

Aarhus University similarities with QUT:

–          Summer course classes are similar to workshops (where lectures and tutorials are combined into one class and where the lecturer asks students question and discusses the topic and thoughts on news relating to a topic),

–          Summer courses required students (in law) to read the articles and textbook readings,

–          No mandatory class attendance

Aarhus University differences with QUT:

–          Classes are not recorded and thus, not attending lectures is disadvantageous as some important information id discussed in the subject,

–          Students are required to complete out-of-class work (I completed 3 or 4 different out-of-class work throughout the course)

Attending the summer course classes at Aarhus University, I think, felt very similar to high school classes as the lecturer would ask the students questions and to discuss a topic and thoughts on news

  1. Accommodation

When I was in Denmark, I stayed in the Snogebæksvej dormitory. The dormitory, I think, is like most Australian dormitories.

List of facilities in the Snogebæksvej dormitory:

–          It had a communal kitchen (residents were expected to prepare their own meals),

–          Kitchen, you share your mini fridge with one other person, thus, if you cook a lot it may be difficult to fit both your food and the other’s

–          14 rooms per floor (two floors),

–          Toilet, shower and bedroom with two tables, one cupboard, a desk lamp, and bed (without sheets, blankets, and pillow protector.

–          There was also an apple tree outside the kitchen, so you can get apples for free.

  1. Life on Campus

Aarhus University is a very large university and has buildings located throughout Aarhus. Similar to QUT giving each building a letter, each building at Aarhus University is numbered (for example, mine was number 1451). Each building has about three floors and access to the roof. Classes were three to four times a week (from 9am – 1pm) Each campus, unlike QUT, has its own self-serve cafeteria serving breakfast and lunch. Similar to a buffet. Each plate of food costs approximately $8 and coffee costs approximately $5.50. Once, during each summer semester, the university hands out ice cream to everyone at the university. Life on the campus is similar to life at QUT. So, it’s not that different from what you usually would do at QUT.

It is a large university with buildings throughout Aarhus.

A beautiful Country

Host Country

Denmark is a beautiful country, Aarhus is similar to Brisbane in terms of a mix between nature and city. There are a lot more brick houses and apartments compared to Brisbane. Aarhus also has a lot of places to visit such as the deer park, Moesgaard museum, and the beach. Also, everyone besides senior citizens can speak English so it’s very easy to get around or buy things. However, I do warn that Denmark is quite expensive, so make sure you bring a lot of cash.

There are a lot more brick houses in Aarhus compared to Brisbane.

Aarhus has a lot of places to visit, but it is quite expensive.

Highlights

Visiting Copenhagen and the Viking moot were definitely the highlights of the trip. Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and has many beautiful sights and places to visit, such as Nyhavn, the Opera House, Christiansborg Palace, and the National Museum of Denmark. The Viking moot was an amazing social program. The Viking moot consisted of watching re-enactments of battles and horse riding. There was also a lot of cool things to buy for friends and yourself at the Viking moot.

Nyhavn in Copenhagen.

A Dream Experience in Denmark

Ellie Lawler, Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology)/Social Work

Short-term program: “Experience Summer at Aarhus University”

Denmark (July 2018)

For my short study program, I chose to study at Aarhus University in Denmark. Studying abroad has been on my bucket list for years, but I always thought I’d never be able to do it. Then, I found out about the short study programs that QUT offered. I didn’t even think about it, I instantly told my parents I was going to study overseas and began searching for which country I would go to. Not long after I began my search, I found the AU summer program at Aarhus University in Denmark.

The beautiful city of Aarhus. The view from the ARoS museum.

 

View of Aarhus from the Tivoli Friheden.

 

I studied an intensive class about youth, alcohol and drugs. At QUT, I study psychology and social work, so this subject fit in nicely with my degree’s units.  I had so many expectations in my mind about what the class would be and it beat them all. My class consisted of around 30 students from all different countries. There were at least 10 different nationalities in the classroom. The different cultures made the subjects content even better. Everyone had their own experiences and laws regarding alcohol and drug use in their universities. The atmosphere was open and people weren’t afraid to share their thoughts.  Nearly every day, we had a new guest lecturer come in and present us with new information. Of course, the methods were quite different from QUT so I had to adjust a lot but I appreciated seeing new learning techniques.

A Danish norm… riding bikes everywhere

The array of perspectives was probably the most interesting part of the class. There was never a boring day.  As a short program, the work load could sometimes be intense. Luckily, the staff and other students were supportive and I got through it all.  During my study, I stayed in a University run apartment building near the beautiful harbour of Aarhus. It was a modern building, equipped with everything I needed. The campus had one of Denmark’s biggest libraries, so there was never a lack of study materials. And when studying got too hard, us students just went to play games (like foosball or ping pong) or even do some boxing in the libraries chill out level. Great idea for QUT hey?…

Aarhus university buildings – One of Denmark’s largest library’s, 8 stories.

The summer staff at Aarhus University were amazing. They had created the best social program for everyone enrolled in summer uni. This included events like concerts, day trips to theme parks, food nights and so much more. Basically, anything there was to do in Aarhus, we did it. And there was a lot to do. My favourite day by far was my final day in Aarhus… the Viking Moot! Who wouldn’t love to pretend to be Vikings right? I rode Icelandic horses, shopped in the old-fashioned markets, took some turns at archery and got to witness the ‘Vikings’ battle. And of course, at the end of the day, I had my daily dose of education…. A trip to the history museum.

A shot of the ‘Vikings’ practising for battle during Aarhus’s 2018 Viking Moot.

 Through my class and the social activities, I made so many friends from different countries. I was fortunate enough to have a great group of friends over there. We attended the social programs together, cooked together and tried to figure out the language together. We even travelled to some more of Europe together on our days off. In total, I travelled to four other countries during my holiday (I mean ‘study experience’…). I went to Germany, Sweden, Hungary and Czech Republic. Being in Europe was great. Instead of an hour taking me from Brisbane to the Gold Coast, it could take me to a whole new country. The cultures that I experienced on my travels were so interesting, I tried to immerse myself into every new experience. This mostly means that I ate a lot of food, but also that I became the biggest cliché tourist.

A Danish picnic to celebrate my birthday

Denmark can be a pricey country, but studying abroad is a once in a life time opportunity so I never limited myself to experiencing things. The University made it all as cheap as possible for the students. This included cheap rent and great student deals. Overall, my experience in Denmark was a dream. Aarhus University was an amazing host University and I got to experience so many things. I only wish that it was longer. I know that I’ll be travelling back to Denmark for a reunion one day.

Nyhavn, Copenhagen.

A Summer Spent in the City of Smiles

Madison Brittain, Bachelor of Creative Industries

Short-term program: “Experience Summer at Aarhus University”

Denmark (July 2018)

During July 2018, I participated in a summer semester at Aarhus University in Denmark. Where I studied Social Marketing as an intensive 2-week course. Aarhus is the largest and second oldest university in Denmark, the city is known for its young demographic and happy people. Aarhus, also known as Smilets (City of Smiles), was voted as the European Capital of Culture for 2017 where it’s legacy still lives on.

Aarhus University is a very dispersed university, with many of the classrooms and faculties spread across the city. Many of the buildings are architecturally different from what we see at QUT, the university’s design has followed the same principle since the 1930’s of characteristic yellow-brick buildings. The university is internationally renowned for this design and has received cultural excellence awards for it. The university also boasts the tallest library in all of Denmark!

University buildings displaying the yellow-brick characteristics.

The University boasts the tallest library in Denmark.

My accommodation was on campus and only a five-minute walk from classes. The accommodation was dorm-room style with a bed, night stand, wardrobe, desk, chair, sink and mirror all provided. The kitchen and bathroom were shared with 9 other full-time study students, but they had plenty of facilities so waiting was never an issue.

I was enrolled in a course called Social Marketing where I attended class for 3 hours a day for 2 weeks straight; with 2 assignments and 1 exam as my assessment. The subject was broad but gave an insight into all the workings of social marketing. The class was made up of both local and international students which helped to give a world perspective on ways in which social marketing is used in different countries. The classes are very informal, with students and teachers being of equal ground.

An art installation of a cat pouring water into a bowl on the grounds of the university.

The university offered an amazing social program including activities like canoeing, visit’s to the Old Town, ARoS museum (which is a must), and many more activities. While I was there, the World Cup was being played out in Russia and the local community set up a massive screen by the water front for the locals to come down and watch the games. It was a great atmosphere and a great way to end the day (even If the sun didn’t set until 11pm some days).

Part of the rainbow 360 art feature at the ARoS museum.

A glimpse of the houses along the banks of the river from the canoeing trip.

The cost of living in Denmark is very similar to Australia, with drink and food prices on a similar budget. Some super-markets charge more than what you would find in Coles or Woolworths, but with the variety of supermarkets they offer, it is easy to find a cheaper price. Public transport in Aarhus is quite expensive to, as the Danes are very much a bike culture. Bikes are easy to rent out around Aarhus and a great form of exercise. Taxis are ridiculously expensive in Denmark and cost you approximately $20 to go 750m.

Danes are the nicest people around and are always willing to help you; they aren’t loud or rowdy, they do not litter or act out in public. Aarhus is an incredibly beautiful, small city with friendly locals who can all speak English amazingly. I’m grateful for my time their and would highly recommend it to anyone!

Studying and Travelling in Japan

Hello again,

Instead of discussing general things about Japan this entry I thought I would detail specifically what studying and travelling within Japan is like. So, this entry will be more interesting to those who want to know more about these two aspects of Japan.

I must admit that studying Japanese has been very difficult. It’s a far more complicated language than I first expected. For example: symbols known as ‘kanji’ can have multiple meanings depending upon the context that they are used within and words that are pronounced the same can have different meanings depending on context and intonations. But, as an exchange student, I have found that work loads are not particularly strenuous and I have very few major assessments. However, this does depend on how good you are at Japanese as friends of mine studying at higher levels seem to have quite intense work loads.

Furthermore, a typical university week will generally involve 5 days of classes. You may get lucky and only receive 4 days, but this is a rare occurrence. Also, you must attend the majority of these classes (at least at my university, Ritsumeikan) otherwise you will fail; but don’t worry, you would have to skip a lot of classes for this situation to become a reality.

Unfortunately, as a result of this, opportunities to travel are limited and can often only be done on weekends. This is what I have done through out my stay here and it has worked out fairly well and has undoubtedly been worth the hassle. However, this means that in order to see all the places I wish to see I have to be as economical as possible with my travel and, unfortunately, travelling in Japan can be very expensive. In particular, the Shinkansens (or bullet trains) are outrageously expensive (but I must say, very convenient). So, for travel, I have been taking overnight buses to all locations. Although these are admittedly very uncomfortable they are cheap (the most important factor of all), especially when you buy a Willer Bus Pass, which is available for all foreigners entering Japan. This link provides all the information you need about the pass: willerexpress.com/st/3/en/e3/buspass/.

I hope that this information will prove to be important to those who are considering an exchange to Japan and if anyone who reads this has any questions about studying and travelling in Japan please leave a comment and I’ll answer it as soon as I can.

Till then, Sayoonara.

P.S. make sure you visit Japan in Autumn so that you can see sights such as this: