Over the winter I went on exchange to Senshu University in Japan and it’s a trip that I’ll never forget! From the friends that I made, to all the new challenges and experiences I faced, I learned so much from this opportunity to study abroad.
The first thing that struck me when I arrived alone in Tokyo, was how foreign everything was and how alienated I felt. Having never been overseas alone before, I’m not gonna lie, I definitely wanted to go home in the first couple of days. It was hard adjusting to not being able to understand or read anything, to not have anyone by my side that I could rely on, from being pushed so far out of my comfort zone.
However, the students at the dorm I was staying at were friendly and encouraging and I’d made some friends within the first few days. The way the dorm was structured was that an international student would room with a local student to encourage us to converse in Japanese and get to know the local students better.
The program that I attended was a 7-week intensive language course at Senshu University, Ikuta Campus in Kawasaki – about a 20-minute train trip from Shinjuku, Tokyo. The first thing I did was take a placement test, then we were placed into the appropriate class level and began our classes! With a small class of 5 people, we had classes every weekday from 9am-1pm with a 10-minute break every hour. In the afternoon, we were left to our own devices, to explore, eat, or study. It was challenging and fast-paced, however I enjoyed the teaching style and learnt so much in that immersive environment. At the end of the 7 weeks, we had to make a 6-minute presentation on a theme that we’d chosen ourselves, and I felt that my confidence and fluency in Japanese speaking had improved significantly.
I enjoyed the lessons we had and the field trips that they took us to – to the Ghibli Museum, to Kamakura, to a tea ceremony and Kabuki performance, it was incredibly fun and eye-opening! These experiences furthered my understanding of Japanese culture and society, as well as exploring nearby neighbourhoods, night trips to Shinjuku, Shibuya, Kawasaki and so many other places, visiting temples and parks, riding public transport – it was all so overwhelming (in a positive way), and I wish I could have stayed longer. I gained so much more confidence from this experience abroad, from learning how to overcome challenges using my own initiative, communicating with a diverse range of people and continuing to challenge myself to venture outside of my comfort zone. It was a dream come true to have studied in Tokyo for those 7 weeks and I would recommend every student to take the opportunity to study abroad 🙂