Tam Hoang Tran

Date: SP2, 2017
Degree Program: Bachelor of Business (Logistics & Supply Chain Management)
Host University: Rikkyo University
Host Country: Japan

Why did you choose your host university?

Rikkyo University was at the heart of Tokyo, which enable myself to not only study in Tokyo but explored the beautiful city itself. In addition, Rikkyo University’s business subjects aligned with my UniSA’s subjects, and this made the process of receiving credits for the business subjects much easier.

What was the university like?

Tam TranThe overall look of the campus was extremely beautiful and had a very prestigious atmosphere. The minimum requirements of classes were at least seven different subjects per week. However, I did eight subjects in order to match UniSA credit requirements. The subjects were chosen from a given student handbook and a timetable schedule. I found that small subject adjustments had to be made with UniSA for credits due to subject clashes and limited spaces for classes at Rikkyo. Although eight subjects might sound daunting, the subjects were taught at a much slower pace and was quite manageable.

The classes are split into 90 minutes period per subject with an hour break per day across the week. However, Japanese language courses had 3-5 classes per week depending on the individual Japanese level of proficiency. The university also utilised a bell system to signify the start and end of lessons as well as for taking attendance. They were quite strict on attendance as it contributed to a significance proportion of your grade.

Furthermore, the international student staff were extremely helpful with any arising problems. The library had ample space to study, but the computers, printers and photocopiers were difficult or confusing to use. The resources required understanding Japanese, but help from the librarian is available to all international students.

What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?

This exchange experience has given me the maturity and social poise to confront challenges outside a familiar support network and comfort zone. I gained an improvement to self-confidence, self-esteem, being able to develop independent opinions, the ability to make informed decisions and the strive to attain new goals. This experience has also given me the opportunity to make life-long friendships globally and a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

What accommodation options were available to you?  How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?

Dormitories and individual apartments were made available to myself. I had chosen to share an apartment with a friend doing the same exchange. The apartment was in a very convenient location in terms of it being close to the university as well as other areas of Tokyo. It was affordable, but I recommend staying at the dormitories. Although the dormitories are a bit further away from the university, it had many benefits. These includes being able to make friends easier in the dorm, numerous events held with both international students and local Japanese students, cheaper accommodation with scholarships and ease of access to Japanese students for assistance (which will be extremely helpful for filling in paperworks and translating!).

Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries? 

Whilst there is an endless amount of activities to do in Tokyo, I was able to travel to other parts of Japan during my free time. Exploring other areas of Japan was an enjoyable experience. Being able to try different delicious food and drinks popular to the region, exploring the beautiful shrines and experiencing the bustling night life was in fact one of the highlight of the travel. Being able to travel to other areas of Japan definitely made it worthwhile to be on the study exchange.

Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.

Taking Japanese language and cultural classes gave me the necessary skills and knowledge to adjust to the lifestyle. At first it was extremely difficult due to language barriers, because you weren’t able to express what you mean and understand the other person. It made it difficult to communicate in restaurants, supermarkets and at train stations. However, learning the language and culture made it easier to adjust to the lifestyle and to meet Japanese people.

The Japanese classes gave me the opportunity to make close friends with the international student cohort, and in the Japanese cultural classes I was able to develop a close relationship with the Japanese students. Rikkyo university also have a huge club culture, and joining one of the sports or other areas of interest clubs was a great way to meet new people and experience Japanese culture.

Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your  future career?

The experienced gained while living overseas and the knowledge obtained of another language and culture will have immense benefits. Completing the exchange program depicts an excellent level of personal flexibility, the ability to reach compromise, and the display of succeeding through challenging situations. Moreover, the increase pressure to communicate and relate to others would help in developing an awareness for group dynamics.

What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?

Go with it! You will have one of the most fun experience that you will never regret! Overcome your worries and sign up asap!

Top Tips:
Learning the language, taking the time to explore and attending student events will make your time on the exchange a greater experience.

Areas of study and research

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