Absolutely incredible snowy winter in Canada

Rick Somers, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), University of Calgary, Canada, Semester 1, 2019

It is difficult to put words; just how incredible the exchange experience was for me.

How does one begin to summarize the best semester of one’s life?

I went on exchange to the University of Calgary in Canada for the 2019 Winter semester. I’ll start by saying that you haven’t experienced Winter until you’ve been in a Canadian Winter. My definition of ‘cold’ definitely changed. You begin to feel very Canadian when you start to look at -10°C as “not that cold.” One of my most vivid memories of this climate was when Spring finally arrived and the temperature rose to a lovely 10°C. The normal attire across the city quickly became t-shirts and shorts, just like the summer wear of Brisbane.

Of course, there’s snow. Yes, it’s absolutely everywhere. Snow can fall in Calgary for 6 months of the year. Slipping and falling on icy pathways became somewhat of a regularity for me and my uncoordinated self, but this only added to the experience.

As for the Uni, it definitely has a very unique feel, atmosphere and culture. Buildings are connected via tunnels, so you don’t have to go out into the cold between classes. Since lectures aren’t recorded here, people actually show up to classes and the university is bustling with activity because of it. On top of this, there are heaps of awesome facilities on campus that are free to use for students. I made frequent use of the bouldering wall and rock-climbing gym, as well as the ice-skating ring and the gym. Skiing, sporting and other outdoor equipment can be rented for cheap at the uni as well!

The university provided plenty of opportunities to meet with other exchange students and I quickly found myself among a large group of friends from all around the world. Most exchange students stay on-campus in the Cascade hall. All the on-campus housing blocks are right on the university grounds and are connected via tunnels. I decided to stay off-campus, in a share house with some Canadian students.

I would recommend this route, only if you’re within walking distance of the uni; waiting in the freezing cold for public transport really isn’t fun. It was with these Canadian students that I really got to understand what being a Calgarian was all about. Lots of ice hockey was both watched and played, and I gained a real affinity for country music and poutine. Also, with Banff and the Rocky Mountains being an hour drive away, I found Calgary to be perfect for the outdoor loving, adventurous side of me. Nothing compares to the exchange experience, it was absolutely incredible!

My winter experience in Canada

Teagan Braysher, Bachelor of Justice, University of Calgary, Canada, Semester 1, 2019

Hi! I’m Teagan and I went on exchange for semester one this year to the University of Calgary, located in the city of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

I lived on campus in the university accommodation, I was staying in a four-bedroom apartment (pictured below) and had three roommates, two were other exchange students and the other was a Canadian student. The campus had a lot of facilities, like a gym that was free for all students, a dining centre, a library, and lots of common spaces for students. The only issue I had with the university itself was the lack of communication from them regarding the important exchange information- e.g. where to go on the first day, what was and was not provided in the accommodation, university cards and expenses.

I found the academics of the university very different to QUT, the biggest difference being that they did not record their lectures or make resources readily available online. Another difference was that their academic semester starts in September, so even though I was doing my first semester of the year as per QUT’s academic calendar, it was semester two at the University of Calgary.

I found Canada to have about the same cost of living as Australia but maybe slightly more expensive for meat and produce, the only real differences being that it is customary to tip and that the sales tax is added on rather than being included in the price.  I feel that culturally Canada was very similar to Australia as well and my biggest shock was the obviously weather difference. The lowest recorded temperature when I was there was -32◦C on February 12th and the highest temperature was 20◦C on May 5th. So it was a little bit colder than Australia.

I was surprised to experience severe home sickness during my time in Canada, while I tried to not let this disturb my experience, being so far away from home was difficult to manage. Luckily, I was able to video chat with my family and friends often and talk about it with other exchange students who were feeling the same. I found that I was also quite anxious about money as I was unable to get a job in Canada due to their rules and the time of year I went.

The best highlights of my exchange were making new friends from around the world and going to live sports- especially seeing hockey games and lacrosse games. Another highlight was when the university organised for the exchange students to go to Banff where we walked across a frozen lake, saw some Canadian wildlife and drove through the Canadian Rockies. I was also able to travel around Canada and see places like Drumheller, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, and how they compared to both Australia and Calgary.

I had a fantastic time on exchange overall, it was well worth the money and time spent and I would definitely recommend going on exchange. I would advise anyone looking to go on exchange to carefully look at the host university to what they offer and possibly try to contact any current students for their opinions and feedback.

My incredible 6 months experience in Paris

Caitlin Watt.,  Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Laws (Honours)  Paris Dauphine University, France, Semester 1, 2019

I just finished my semester abroad where I studied at Université Paris-Dauphine in Paris! It was an incredible experience to be able to spend 6 months immersing myself in the French culture and I would highly recommend Paris as an exchange destination.

The University

Paris-Dauphine is quite a big university in the 16th arrondissement in Paris. I found it very easy to navigate and the facilities were pretty good (especially the cafeteria). I used my electives while on exchange so I was able to choose a range of subjects which I found it very interesting and I particularly enjoyed Marketing in the Luxury Sector and French. I found that the university was much more disorganized than QUT, which was frustrating at times and the classes were very different. For each subject, there was a 3 hour workshop which is held once a week and most of my classes had final exams which was worth 80-100% which was a little bit stressful.

The City

Paris is a beautiful city, fill with good food and amazing architecture. It is possible to spend hours walking around the city and admiring all of the amazing buildings, parks and the river. There is always something to do in Paris, be it going to a museum, sunbaking in the park with the locals (as soon as the temperature goes below 20 degrees) or enjoying the amazing food and nightlife. A highlight of my commute to uni each day was seeing the beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower as my metro line crossed the river. This is definitely something I have missed since coming home. If you don’t already know some basic French I would definitely recommend learning some before going to Paris, as often Parisian people are not very helpful or accommodating unless you at least try to speak French to them first! Paris is such a great exchange destination as it is amazing to explore but it is also very easy to travel to the rest of Europe and there are always cheap flights/trains from Paris.

Accommodation

I lived in a student residence in the 14th arrondisment while studying in Paris. The 14th is a very quiet arrondisement with a lot of residential buildings and I had a 45 minute commute to uni by 3 different metro lines which was a hassle, but there were other international students in the residence that I became very close with so overall I am very glad I stayed there. Paris is a very expensive city so the student accommodation is a very good option if you don’t want to spend all your money on rent!

A semester at Leeds

It was quite late in my degree by the time I decided to do a student exchange, but I’m so glad I did because it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I chose the University of Leeds due to its academic reputation and atmosphere.

Culture

Before arriving in Leeds, I didn’t think there would be much of a cultural difference between England and Australia. But after living there for six months, and immersing myself in the community, I definitely noticed a few stark cultural differences. From simple things like what’s available at supermarkets, to how the locals interact with you and each other – sometimes their English accents are so difficult to understand it sounds like they’re speaking another language!

The University

Within the university, there was such great community spirit with a seemingly endless number of clubs and societies for literally any activity you could imagine! In terms of study, I found Leeds to have a reasonably similar teaching style to QUT. However, Leeds was very strict and rule-abiding about a lot of things. Attendance for tutorials was compulsory and recorded, so if you missed more than two or three classes you were contacted by the unit coordinator. They also took down lecture attendance! Lectures were sometimes recorded (depending on the subject) but the slides were always available online.

Travel

The UK is a fantastic base for easy and cheap travel throughout Europe. There is a small airport at Leeds but I preferred to use Manchester airport (1 hour train away) because flights from there were usually cheaper and more regular. My main mode of transportation throughout the UK however was buses. Although they do take a bit longer, they’re so much cheaper and I didn’t find them too uncomfortable! Transportation is something to consider early on though, because if you’re planning on catching trains then it’s definitely worth investing in a discounted rail pass from the beginning.

Accommodation

I stayed in student-based accommodation at Mary Morris House – a student apartment block in a nearby suburb of Headingley. There were frequent buses to the city but I usually just walked for 30 mins. Headingley was a lovely suburb to live in though – it mostly consisted of students and the main street was primarily full of pubs and op-shops! In terms of cost of living, it was quite similar to Brisbane, slightly more expensive due to the exchange rate at the time but very doable to stick to a limited budget for day-to-day living.

Leeds

Yorkshire is such a beautiful part of England- from York itself to surrounding towns; the country is full of such rich history. As an architectural design student, I was just in love with the ancient buildings and gorgeous streetscapes as well as the landscape in the nearby moors. Leeds is such a massive student city and has so many international exchange students who are always looking to make friends and have a good time. The city is full of gorgeous old buildings and there are always activities on a daily basis!

Overall, this experience was even better than I’d hoped for! Meeting so many incredible friends and travelling so frequently, I loved every minute of it and would absolutely recommend doing an exchange!

Ljubljana: a City of Rich Culture and Traditions

Aside

Nadia L., Bachelor of Business / Mass Communication

University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (Semester 1, 2019)

 

In early February I left my job, my friends and my family behind to study for a semester in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Known as a ‘student city’ for its young population, lively events and student perks I am so glad for the time that I spent there. I made many lifelong friends from all over the world and was able to become more confident and independent.

Academic Life

When the semester first began, I felt overwhelmed with assessment. While QUT generally requires two or three key assessments per unit, many of my Slovenian subjects involved a presentation or essay each week. Although highly involved, these tasks only accounted for 50% of your grade in total, with a big exam making up the other half at the end. The curriculum had a big focus on group assignments, in-class participation and presentations. However, I quickly learned that despite the extra workload, a less rigorous marking process meant it was much easier to get a good grade. Once I learned this, my exchange became much less stressful and I was able to enjoy time at events and exploring the country with new friends.

Exchange Orientation Day at Faculty of Business and Economics

Leisure

Ljubljana at Sunset

 

Ljubljana is a city of rich culture and traditions. On a sunny day it’s common for people to hike to the Castle for a picnic overlooking the city, or to enjoy drinks and a meal along the river with friends. There were also regular events for exchange students organised by two student associations. These included trips to Prian, Lake Bled, skiing in the mountains, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and more. They also organised a student party every Tuesday and Thursday night – and karaoke Wednesdays. There was definitely never a dull moment!

 

Food

Exploring the City Centre

 

All students in Slovenia are eligible for BONI, a Government subsidy for 2 meals per day, or 30 meals per month. This meant students could get discounted meals from anywhere in the city, ranging from completely free to just 4 euros for an entire meal. Think a burger and chips, or a whole pizza, plus soup and salad! This was many of our exchange student’s favourite part of exchange and it was common for friends to eat out regularly for lunch or dinner.

 

Exercise

With such cheap food many of us were worried about gaining weight. The Faculty of Business and Economics offers a range of free athletic programs that you can join at the start of semester including basketball, boxing, football, volleyball and aerobics. These classes were quite far from my accommodation, so I didn’t end up participating. Instead, I joined a nearby gym.

All gyms in Ljubljana were considerably cheaper than in Brisbane. The two main ones near the business faculty are Alpha gym and Gym24. I went to the latter and would highly recommend it – the classes, equipment and facilities were all great. Free gyms are also available at the dorms.

Hiking mountains near Ljubljana

Travel

Ljubljana is quite small so almost everything is within walking distance. There is also a decent bus system which costs 1.20 euro for a one-way trip. You will need to use a machine to get the equivalent of a go-card first as they don’t accept cash on board. However, myself and many other students opted to purchase a second-hand bike for the duration of our stay. I highly recommend this option. Ljubljana is pretty flat across the whole city and has a great infrastructure for bikes – plus you don’t need to wear a helmet!

Given its central location it was easy to travel to other European countries from Slovenia. Flixbus was the cheapest, easiest and most popular way to travel. I got pretty lucky with my accommodation, which was super close to the central bus stop. From there I was able to travel to cities in Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia with ease. However, if you want to travel a bit further away, flights from the Slovenian airport were quite limited and expensive. In most cases I’d recommend taking a Flixbus to a bigger airport for cheaper flights!

 

My time in Ljubljana was really special. I made so many fun memories and lifelong friends from around the world that are already planning their trips to Australia! Despite the difficulties of being away from home I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I really recommend that everyone takes advantage of the opportunity to study abroad!

 

Ljubljana City Centre

Ljubljana City Centre

 

 

 

 

 

My Learning Experiences in Tainan, Taiwan

Sean W., Bachelor of Industrial Design (Honours)

National Cheng Kung University Taiwan, Semester 1 2019

Coming from Australia, and not speaking any Chinese before arriving in Taiwan, I found the process quite easy to get the accommodation and basic university things sorted out. Class registration and department registration is a tedious paper-based process where you run around to every department giving copies of the same form and collecting stamps no one seems to understand! This is something that I hope they will be improving in the coming semesters.

Once settled into NCKU, I was offered some really amazing academic opportunities from the weekly College of Planning and Design lectures, the Industrial Design and Architecture final presentation/graduation exhibitions and the Aerospace research pathways lecture weekly series. At the same time there were also fun activities: attending the dragon boat festival, going to all-you-can-eat barbeque (its near the canal in the West District – you must go!) and experiencing the local alleys and markets scattered throughout Tainan.

As part of the ICID (Creative Industries) department, I joined two team projects with local and international students, organised and hosted the POINTS Data Visualisation Exhibition in April 2019 (http://news-en.secr.ncku.edu.tw/p/404-1038-193895.php?Lang=en), attended the International Conference of Planning and Design (https://2019icpd.com/about) at NCKU and was part of the Hong Kong-Tainan Design Thinking Workshop as part of Professor Yang’s annual university study tour (https://www.comp.hkbu.edu.hk/designworkshop/index.php).

Finally, the student societies at NCKU are numerous and so interesting! While many of them will be in Chinese, they all seemed willing to find someone who could Chinese-English as their way through to teaching you how to join in. Some really memorable clubs for me were the Architecture Society (C-Hub café!!! <3), the MAGI CLUB – NCKU’s maker club for students who want to build stuff for fun and the NCKU Pottery Club who were all so generous letting us get involved and helping us out when we were struggling.

Societies:

MAGI Club – NCKU Maker’s Club:

https://www.facebook.com/MagiTaiwan/?ref=br_rs

NCKU Pottery Club:

https://www.facebook.com/NCKU.pottery/

C-Hub Café:

https://www.facebook.com/chub.cafe/?__tn__=%2Cd%3C-R&eid=ARDXYOEDDrUX96pQ4pF2PfYR_-Ge-dW58emSqinGwzlNa7C69KjfKiKEDKVAeUhvxdszCHKJlvI1me6h

Thank you Tainan and thank you NCKU for giving me such an awesome exchange journey, I hope to see you soon!

Cheers,

Sean Wanna

Spain Student Exchange Summary

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Kirra Sodhi

Universidad Carlos III Madrid, Madrid

Host Country

Deciding on a host country was one of the most difficult parts of my application process. I was comparing countries like Ireland to Norway to Singapore. However, I decided to go to Spain for several different reasons. Firstly, I had always wanted to visit the country, I was so intrigued with there fun and chilled out way of life (which eventually became quite annoying as nothing was ever open). Then there was the weather, now I know that we get a lot of sun, but Madrid is always sunny, in fact I could probably count only 5 days during my semester where there was grey skies. The people of Spain are also so welcoming, even if you know nothing about the language. I originally wanted to study in Barcelona because I though it was an amazing city, which was so multicultural and consisted of many aspects including arts, sports and most importantly beautiful beaches. However, as my business program was only offered in Madrid, I ended up going there instead (which was still a win). As the capital of Spain, Madrid was lively at all hours of the day, filled with amazing food, shops, festivals and lots of street performance. I was really into this traditional Spanish city and all its little quirks.

University and Campus

The university I went to was Universidad Carlos III Madrid, which located outside the city a bit, in a suburb called Getafe and took about 20 – 40min by train from Madrid’s central station (Sol). Compared to QUT’s modern facilities, the school seemed surprisingly quite old with chalk boards in the classrooms. I also found the education system to be dysfunctional and very unorganized, which most exchange students I met there agreed with. All the classes were pretty easy to pass, and the assessment pieces were not too hard. Also, I found that group assignments are very popular. All the classes were done in English which was fortunate since I knew zero Spanish.

Accommodation

This was very different to organize and caused myself I lot of stress when preparing for exchange. On campus accommodation was full and honestly, I would not recommend it as it is located in Getafe which is a very small and basic town. Madrid’s student rental services were various and helpful. For me, I often used be roomers, spotahome and uniplaces to search for apartments. The apartment which I lived in was owned by HELP MADRID they offered good accommodation but definitely ripped you off. I was constantly being charged extra for services like water and gas and each month the charges would increase by sometimes 50 euros which blew my budget out. Apart from this I did enjoy the accommodation, I lived with 11 people all exchange students mostly from the USA. Plus the best thing about the apartment was our location, basically in the middle of Sol, the main plaza was right around the corner.

Conclusion

Spain is an amazing place to go on exchange, especially as it is a large and central European city with something to explore every day. Compared to other European countries, I found it to be relatively cheap, which was definitely a big bonus. Having the ability to travel every weekend was amazing and I was able to see so many countries that I could not imagine.

My advice any future global student is that exchange can challenge you in more ways than you would expect, but the great thing is that you will grow as a person, make amazing friends and have the craziest lifelong memories along the way.

 

Stand Out Go North

Nikoletta Spathis

BI Norwegian Business School, Norway

Between its world-class mountain scapes, Northern Lights and ancient history, Norway has become a popular destination, not only for travel but for education and employment. I was fortunate enough to study in its capital, Oslo, a cosmopolitan city set amongst the fjords and forests where breath-taking nature is just one step outside the door.

University Life

BI Norwegian Business School is the largest business school in Norway and the second largest in all of Europe. Located in the urban area of Nydalen, BI can be visually described as a modern architectural masterpiece, with four main buildings connected by a glass pavilion. This design was highly beneficial during the colder seasons as it made it easy for students to move around the buildings without having to embrace the negative twelve or if lucky, negative fifteen temperatures.

BI has a strong focus on keeping close ties with the business world which enables all students to partake in various opportunities. Undertaking the specialization in Shipping Management, I was able to attend a number of industry related excursions and seminars which were extremely insightful and beneficial. In addition, the university ran professional networking events. One such event was ‘Coffee Hour’ where a ‘hot topic’ was discussed by an industry professional (e.g. politicians, CEOs, researchers, etc.). During my exchange, I attended a discussion on gender equality and the economy. This discussion was presented by eminent speakers including former U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The approach to learning at university is somewhat different to what we are used to at QUT. For example, there is no distinction between lectures and tutorials which means classes run for three hour blocks. Although attendance is not compulsory, it is highly recommended as there are no recordings. The workload during the semester is relatively relaxed as there are hardly any assignments! However, it is important to keep studying as most units only have ONE 100 percent end of semester exam. Although the academic structure is different, it is relatively easy to adapt as all the teaching staff are extremely helpful and understanding.

Everyday Life

Norway is a very advanced nation with high wages and living standards which means that everything is expensive, especially for students. The Norwegian currency can be a little confusing at first as they work in large numeric values, for example, AUD$17.00 is equal to NOK100.

Within the first two days of arriving in Oslo a trip to IKEA is a must for all those items that did not fit within the luggage limit from Australia! Located 15 minutes from the city centre, a free IKEA shuttle bus operates daily. There are other homeware stores, like Clas Ohlson and Europris which are relatively inexpensive with stores across the city. On average, grocery shopping can add up pretty quickly, therefore it is wise to look at the weekly promotions of the various supermarkets (e.g. Meny, Coop, Joker, Extra). Unfortunately, it is not economically viable to constantly eat out as it is very expensive. Even fast food chains, like McDonalds, are considerably more expensive when compared to prices in Australia. A must have app to download is ‘TooGood ToGo.’ On this app you purchase a mystery bag, filled with various food items, from your chosen store. For example, I once received two loafs of bread, three sandwiches, two pastries, and a smoothie for only NOK35 – roughly AUD$5.80. The main thing to understand is that Norway is expensive, however, there are ways to minimize costs.

Navigating around Oslo is relatively easy as it has one of the most sophisticated and on-time transport systems in the world. As a student, discounted transport fares apply for all major transport (bus, train and ferry). However, this discount only applies when a 30-day ticket is purchased (around NOK550 which is equal to AUD$90- this may seem expensive, but it works out the cheapest). Even if you are not certain that you will use public transport daily, it is still worth purchasing the 30-day ticket as single tickets are costly.

Travelling is a must both within Norway and beyond. Nature abounds in Norway so making the most of it by travelling to explore the far South to the far North is a must. The only negative about travelling within Norway is the expense. However, planning ahead helps. It is often possible to pick up cheaper flights when you are flexible about your travel plans and staying in an Airbnb are a must. My most memorable visit, within Norway, was to the Telemark region where I was lucky enough to witness nature’s winter magic, the aurora borealis. Once you have explored every inch of Norway, travelling around Europe will seem incredibly inexpensive.

Whether it be for one or two semesters, going abroad may be a daunting thought, however, you will not regret your decision.

Stand out! Take the leap and embrace all the extremes that going North has to offer.

Studying in Milan AKA the fashion capital of the world

My semester at the Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi located in Milan, Italy, was one of the most difficult, yet life-changing, semesters of my university career thus far. I arrived in Milan a few days prior to the start of classes and was immediately thrown into an exciting week of meeting other exchange students and learning my way around the campus. Bocconi’s International Student Desk was immensely helpful at this time, providing tours and networking events throughout the first two weeks. Also, during this time, I engaged in a two-week, Italian language course. I would thoroughly recommend this course to future exchange students at Bocconi. Not only was it helpful in receiving an introduction to the Italian language, but it also allowed me to meet a class full of other exchange students who were keen to make friends. The friends I made during the language course have become some of my greatest friends and, despite all being from different countries, I am confident I will continue to treasure these friendships for the rest of my life.

The Bocconi Erasmus Club was also incredibly helpful at the beginning of my time in Milan, as well as throughout the entire semester. From group dinners to nights out and even sporting competitions, the Erasmus club was an amazing way to make friends and feel fully immersed in the exchange experience. The events hosted by the Erasmus group during my exchange were definitely some of the highlights of my time abroad.

My biggest surprise after first arriving in Milan was how expensive the city was compared to Brisbane, particularly with regards to rent. As one of the most expensive cities to live in Europe, my bank account was in for a shock. I would highly advise future exchange students to do a thorough budget for their time abroad before arriving at their host city.

When classes began at Bocconi I learnt very quickly that academic life would be far more demanding than what I was used to at QUT. Lessons were structured very differently, and far more traditionally, at Bocconi with very little online content and no tutorial style classes. On top of this, majority of students in my classes were Italian and, despite the classes being taught in English, would talk together or clarify information in Italian.

A highlight of my time in Italy was certainly Milan Fashion Week, when the city really came alive with so much to do and see during that time. I was even lucky enough to attend a number of fashion shows, including some at Bocconi University.

My biggest piece of advice for future exchange students is to remember that exchange isn’t going to be amazing all the time and it’s not meant to be. There will be times where you will miss having your family and friends close by or struggle with academics. I can say for certain you will have several near misses when crossing the road on your way to class because Italian drivers are absolutely crazy. There will be days when you just want a cup of coffee without half your order getting lost in translation. I promise you that the times where you think “why on earth am I doing this” are going to be the moments you look back on as the most important and valued times on your exchange.

I cannot put into words how incredible, fun and life-changing my time on exchange was. I believe without a doubt every student should consider an overseas exchange during their time at university. I am so grateful to QUT and Bocconi University for such an invaluable opportunity.

Spring time in Kyoto, Japan

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.

Heian Jingu Shrine

The beautiful Kamogawa that runs through the heart of Kyoto’s city centre

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).

Cherry blossom trees out in front of the university dorm

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.

Wonderful people from wonderful places around the world