I am already half way through my six month stay in Japan and I don’t want to leave! I originally applied to go to Tokyo and was a little disappointed when I found out there were no places available in a Tokyo university but now I could not be happier that I’m living Kyoto. Kyoto is a really beautiful city there is so much to see. I was lucky enough to be here throughout November when the autumn leaves were out and it was so amazing, something I had never seen before in Australia.
I have also learnt so much Japanese since coming here; it is so different studying a language in-country than studying at home, so much better! Uni in Japan is quite a lot of work but fun, we have language classes from 9 to 12 Monday to Friday then each afternoon off. We also have a different teacher everyday and they are all lovely. And the classes are completely in Japanese which is really good.
Also there are so many exciting places to visit, public transport is really convenient and easy in Japan so you can go to a different city every weekend or do road trips with Japanese friends, which I have been lucky enough to do, Japanese people are so friendly!
After yesterday the 4th of November, the International day at Ajou University, I cannot recommend strongly enough that Ajou is the place to study over the Fall Semester.
Yesterday was such an excellent day that makes me thankful and privileged to be on the GO Program. Over 500 or so students representing 30-40 countries yesterday had the chance to display food, wear traditional costumes, showcasing traditional dances and just being able to enjoy a day full of diversity.
It is a day where you get to taste, see and enjoy the company of wonderful friends and just have world experience. It was a beautiful autumn day here in Suwon in South Korea and I tell you, you just have to be here to experience the love, fun; excitement and being amongst diverse people and cultures.
I had the opportunity to represent Australia and Vanuatu. Since I was the only one from the Oceania region, I was allocated two student volunteers from Ajou and we managed to rig up some sausage sizzle and burgers as Aussie food and cooked prawns in Coconut milk as Vanuatu food. Before I came here, I also gathered a lot of souvenirs, books, photos and practically anything from the two countries that I thought would be of help in telling everyone about these two beautiful countries. There were so many many people interested to know about the two countries and I was a proud to be an Ambassador for both!!
It was wonderful experience as all your new friends are interested to know more about where you come from. Visiting each others booths, tasting the country’s food, heated wines, vodka shots and dancing to different countries music J. The day ended with performances from different countries and partying. It has been such a wonderful day that contributes to making this GO experience an unforgettable one. This is a reason why the GO program is an experience of a lifetime and I cannot stress enough that Ajou University International day is a day you would never want to miss so apply and come and study in Ajou next Fall!
Taj, a Faculty of Business student is currently studying at our partner Ajou University in the Republic of Korea. He has some great advice for all students travelling on the GO Program:
- Make soft copies of your passport, visa, medical tests, airline tickets, invitation letters and any other documents that will be of importance. Anything could happen so just be prepared
- Talk to your Bank about services they can be able to offer while you are overseas. Make sure your cards are valid for the whole duration of your stay overseas. Get all their help numbers that you can access while overseas. Register to online banking and make sure to keep the passwords in a safe place and are in working status
- Make sure you find out a lot of information about the weather in the host country and pack sufficient clothes. Its good to pack a few days before you leave, that way you know what you have forgotten in the days leading to your departure
- Arrange your transport to the airport
- Double check on everything you need to have the night before your departure
- You are now ready to begin the actual journey
- Plan to arrive at the airport 3hrs prior to departure that way you can check in early and relax before your flight and also to say your goodbyes to friends and families
- Change some money to use at the airport in the host country to make calls, pay for taxi/bus or drink/food etc
- When you arrive, find the representatives from your host university or carefully follow the instructions they have given you on how to get to your accommodation
- Check in at your accommodation and settle in
- Go through your arrival information of the activities that the office of international affairs (OIA) in your host university are hosting over the week of your arrival
- Find your way around the student halls and university and meet your roommate/housemate
- Attend the orientation day and participate in the activities that they have set out. This will help you know what is required of you during the semester
- Regularly check your e-mail for information about enrolments and any other information
- Make sure to keep in regular contact with the GO program and the contact in the office of international affairs in the host university
- There may be additional requirements such as medical insurance and other government requirements that must be arranged. Ask as much information and make sure to arrange for the required. For example in Korea, you need to have a D2 study visa and should be valid for the duration of your stay. You are also required to apply for an alien registration card which determines that you are in Korea temporarily
- Bare in mind that it is normal that the courses that you originally applied for may not be available therefore be ready to make choices of subjects other than the ones that you originally wanted to take. Regular contact between USC and OIA in host university is important
Joel studied in Japan on the In country language program for a year and during that time wrote of his experiences in his own blog. For a detailed and insightful look at an exchange student’s experience in Japan have a read of Joel’s blog:
The views expressed in the blog are solely those of the author.