Host University

Kwansei Gakuin University

Host Country



SP5, 2018


Bachelor of Arts (Languages)

Why did you choose your host university?

I chose KGU for two reasons. Firstly, I had a look at the different Universities that Uni SA offers for exchange in Japan. Upon researching, I found KGU to be exactly what I was looking for in terms of location, programs, and subjects. Secondly, Jonathon Chrichton, my program director, highly recommended this university to me, after hearing a lot of great feedback from previous students. Therefore, I chose to study at this university, and I am glad I did, people from all over south of Japan regard this university very highly, as I found out through various interactions.

What was the university like?Amelia

Not only was the campus incredibly stunning, the classes were very helpful. Depending on the student’s desired path, there are two options for exchange students. Either the Modern Japan track, which focuses on the study of Japan (culture, arts, etc.) primarily studied in English, or the Japanese Language Track, which of course focused on learning the Japanese language. I chose the language track, as the purpose of my exchange was to improve my language skills. This track included general Japanese language classes everyday with choices of either more focused language classes (speaking, writing, reading etc.) or Japan studies classes as previously mentioned.

Both tracks are very beneficial in gaining better understanding of Japanese history and culture, however the language is especially helpful for language learning with many different activities engaging with other class members and sometimes even regular Japanese students volunteering in the university. Assessments included essays, tests, exams, speeches, interviews and such. Many subjects offered fieldtrips, which was also very helpful, putting what we had been learning in class into practice.

The university had many great resources including a MASSIVE library, Japanese language learning ‘partners’ and ‘buddy groups’, extra-curricular activities and ‘coffee hours’ which allows interaction between exchange students and regular students. There are many cafeterias, restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores. They even have a 7eleven, KFC and Starbucks on campus.

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

My exchange experience definitely altered my approach to life. Not only did I gain a much better understanding on Japan and the Japanese language, but I also learned a lot about the cultures and places of the other exchange students. I met people from countries I never even knew existed before. I now have a much more cultured and valued look on the world and have come to appreciate the many great things we have here in Australia too, through being able to teach the other exchange students and my professors about where I come from.

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

There were a few different accommodation options, varying international residences and also homestay. I stayed in Residence 5 and this was perfect for me. It was one of the cheaper options as it was about 45 minutes travel time to university and kitchens and bathrooms were shared. There were 4 students to a ‘unit’ with individual bedrooms but sharing a bathroom and kitchen, and there were also two common areas with televisions, a bigger kitchen, and dining areas. Other residence options included closer distance from university, and rooms with their own bathrooms and kitchens. Prices then varied depending on whether utilities were shared etc. I was very happy with the residence I stayed in, I made very good friends with my ‘housemates’ and also the other people staying in that residence, as there was plenty of time to bond in the common areas. This was a great way to make new friends and find help in students going through the same process.

Homestay was the other option. Many friends that I made during the exchange did homestay and absolutely loved it. They said their families were so warm and welcoming and the food that was made was delicious. This would be a great way to experience a true Japanese life, being really immersed in the culture, and be able practice Japanese everyday, in everyday situations. Initially the homestay option is more expensive than the residences however being provided with dinner and not having to pay any bills, it would eventually even out.

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

I travelled both within Japan and to South Korea with the friends I made at University. A lot of the time I would travel with my housemates within the Kansai area of Japan using trains. This was great as we got to explore the area we were living and see many great things including Osaka City, Kyoto City, Kobe City and many other great surrounding areas. I was also fortunate enough to make good friends with a Japanese girl who had a car and was able to drive; we went on many different road trips to places like Hiroshima, Himeji, Wakayama Prefecture and Lake Biwa. I was very fortunate to have this opportunity to go to places I otherwise wouldn't have been able to see.

With other exchange students I also travelled to South Korea for a few days, flights to South Korea are about the same price and distance from Adelaide to Melbourne, so it was very easy and turned out to be a great experience. One of my friends actually knew a local from Seoul, so even there, we were able to be showed around by her and explore many different places.

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

I adjusted to life in Japan quite well. At first it was hard to get used to simple things such as trains, simple expressions at restaurants and even things like what to buy in the supermarket when everything is foreign and having limited to no reading abilities. After a couple of weeks, with help from other exchange students, we soon got used to living in the Japanese community. After a few months it all seemed to be quite normal and I feel like I ended up having more culture shock coming back home, than what I did when I went to Japan in the first place.

Meeting friends while living in the residence is quite easy, even if you don't kick it off with your roommates or housemates that you see everyday, there are always people hanging out in the common area playing games, watching movies, cooking food and sometimes even throwing parties. Even for those not living in the residences and doing homestay, making friends at school is very easy. Firstly, those who choose the language track, have the same class everyday, so you quickly make friends with those people. The university also has many buddy programs and clubs that you can get involved in, also making it easy to make friends.

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

My future career will definitely involve me working in Japan so it has definitely benefited me in that regard. I now have an idea about what living in Japan is like and can use the skills that I learnt during my exchange, in relation to language and culture, to help with my future career pathway.

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

Honestly, just go and do it. It's really daunting at first, being away from home, in a place where you don't know anyone, and can’t even speak the local language, but I guarantee 99% of the other exchange students you will meet are in the exact same position. It is scary, I’ve been there, but you will make friends in the first orientation day and from then on it's easy breezy. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I had so much fun along the way. Also, the university is really helpful; they will even pick you up from the airport and make sure you’re in the right place from the moment you land in Japan.

Top tips

My top tip is to make friends with the Japanese students, they will show you best places to eat, drink, hang out, and teach you things that you otherwise wouldn’t know just by hanging out with other exchange students.

Oh also, bring a towel, for some reason I didn't, and it was a bit of an issue the first night/day in the residence.