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Sophia University, Japan

Finally, after a grueling few months of administrative work, filling in documents, subject approval and preparation, I set off and arrived in Japan on April 1st ready for my year of exchange.

Although I have previously been in Japan, it’s definitely hard to get used to the city, people and population. It’s crazy how just the city of Tokyo has more people than the entirety of Australia, the peak hour trains are just about the most squished you’ll ever feel. Most of the people are very systematic and rule following is stressed. But these are just minor issues that I adapted to very quickly.

But there are also many great things about Japan such as the abundance of vending machines which will spoil you with choice or the convenience stores which compared to Australia’s convenience stores, are actually “convenient” and can support someone through their daily life. When talking about the great things of Japan, I just can’t not mention that a lot of things are cheap! You can get good curry meal for $4, a hot bowl of ramen for $5 and even a can of beer for approximately $1.

I also arrived just in time to participate in 花見 (hanami) which is a Japanese Cultural Event for sakura tree and flower viewing.

My exchange university is 上智大学 which in English is called Sophia University and is a catholic university based within Tokyo. Sophia University’s facilities are quite similar to UTS, being a university with its campus spread out in a metropolitan area. You have all the basic facilities such as cafeterias, library, computer and printing access, global exchange and education support etc. Everything to make even an exchange student comfortable.

They even had a digital globe which contained the location of UTS.

The teaching style and education system is definitely different when compared to Australia. For instance, most Japanese classes will grade you on attendance very harshly, missing a few classes without a proper explanation can result you in failing the class. Japanese classes also differ in respects to grade allotment, where the final exam will make up for most of your grades, from a normal 30% to 40% all the way up to 80% of the total marks. In terms of teaching, one would expect about the same as UTS, where teachers will lecture at the front and provide individual support for students later in the class. It seems that most Japanese classes tend to only be lecture classes and emphasize rote learning.

I have enrolled in the Faculty of liberal arts at Sophia which is quite different to my IT degree at UTS as Sophia University does not provide IT subjects in English. These subjects include but are not limited to social sciences, anthropology and sociology, Japanese society and culture. This is quite different to what I learn at UTS and I believe will be quite interesting as studying social and cultural content may help me with the humanitarian side of IT.

Japanese Universities, and culture in general also provide “clubs” and “circles” which are officially supported student made groups and collectives that participate in things such as but not limited to: Martial arts, music, learning, volunteering, cooking, gaming and sports. Many of these clubs are taken seriously and when one joins, they must commit while other clubs are more casual and social and have no strict attendance requirements.

The clubs I’m looking into are the Karate club (strict attendance), Judo club (loose attendance), cooking club (loose attendance) and pop culture and gaming club (loose attendance).

Here is a picture of the karate club performing an act during a new student reception event.

Overall, I find Japan to be an extremely fast paced and exciting country (at least in the heart of Tokyo) as well as an extremely serene and beautiful place (while in the more rural areas). I highly recommend any students looking for a country to exchange to, to give Japan some thought.

Benson Zhang
Bachelor of Science in Games Development
Sophia University

Australian Government New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient.

For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit:

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