I chose to apply to Kwansei Gakuin University because of the excellent foreign student exchange program. As Kwansei Gakuin has many affiliate universities from different parts of the world, my cultural awareness will not be restricted to only Japanese culture, but traditions and customs all over the world. This will give my mind the flexibility to accept and understand the viewpoint of many different people from different backgrounds. The program is appeal to many peoples interests, including mine, regarding Japan and Japanese culture, and on top of that, the Japanese language track mandatory courses are varied and focused making sure all elements of Japanese language skills are being covered and developed.
After my study abroad program I hope to find a way to use both my Japanese skills and my conservation skills from my other major, Conservation and Wildlife Biology. If there is the option to further my studies in Japan, either for the Japanese language or conservation sciences, I would highly consider taking the chance. I also hope to make long-lasting connections with my peers, both international students and Japanese students to broaden my horizons and give me new perspectives and inspiration. The connections I make may enable me to continue with my studies, home or abroad in Japan, or to find a job placement where my skills can be utilized.
I began my journey as an exchange student at Kwansei Gakuin University on the 11th of September 2018 and throughout my study abroad experience in Japan, I have changed and grown into a different person than I was when I left Australia. I have made so many new friends, reunited with those I knew from my previous trip to Japan, and met those who took the opportunity to study abroad at my university. I am so thankful to have met so many interesting people and I know that many of us will meet again in the future.
My language ability has also greatly improved since beginning my study at KGU. My speaking ability in particular has improved so much from using it in my classes and from experiencing daily life. I no longer feel anxious or worried about my spoken Japanese and am more willing to try my best to communicate, even when I make mistakes. In the classroom, the variety of topics and useful Japanese expressions makes the classes interesting and engaging. The classes I have taken outside of my language course have been varied in subjects but all interesting and have allowed me to broaden my thoughts and understanding to become more aware of differences between people and countries and to be accepting of those differences without judgement.
My life at my dorm is something I am immensely grateful for. Everyone living here supports each other and the resident assistants and managers are always willing to help with any troubles or celebrate your achievements.
Outside of my study I have had many opportunities to participate in events and travel around Kansai and other parts of Japan. I decided to join many of the events, like a performance of shakuhachi and koto as well as the spring festival held at Heirinji Temple, held by the Takarazuka International Friendship Association. Through a close acquaintance I had the opportunity to take part in mochitsuki at New Years, was invited to watch a fashion show, and try all kinds of delicious food. In March I visited Hokkaido and met two friends who explored Sapporo with me, visiting different areas, learning about differences between Sapporo and Osaka, and eating good food only found in Hokkaido. During the holidays, my parents came to visit me, which allowed me show them different areas of Kansai, and some areas further south like Okayama and Hiroshima. I really enjoyed being able to share Japan with them.
Though my exchange cannot continue forever, I will always look back at this point of time in my life as something that helped me grow into a more independent, self-confident person. All the people I meet and the places I travel help me grow into a different person. I will use my remaining time in Japan to continue to grow and make the most of the experience I am so lucky to have had.