I thought I ought to make a post about who I am and what is motivating me to study in Japan. So I am 20 years old and studying abroad in Japan. During the university year I live in Albury, NSW and over Christmas I live with my Mum, Dad, brother and two sisters in Tumbarumba, NSW. I have never been overseas before and this year has meant big things for me. A year and a half ago I moved out of the small town I called home and ventured an hour and a half to go to university. This was a major turning point in my life and even though so close to home I felt so far away. Jumping ahead a little, now I am a nine hour flight away from home in a country I have never been before with people who speak a language I barely know and yet I LOVE IT! So far I have been here for six weeks and i have loved every moment of it and I can’t wait to share it all with you. But first let me tell you a bit about me…
I have lived in the small town of Tumbarumba for my entire life. During this time have been involved in various school and community activities. I was the School Captain at Tumbarumba High School in 2012, have taken the position of President, Vice President and Secretary of the Tumbarumba Youth Council and have been a member of the Tumbarumba Rotary Interact Club during my high school years. After graduating from Tumbarumba High School in 2012 I took a gap year and worked at a cafe/ nursery/ gift shop called Gone Barny in the small town of Rosewood, NSW. In 2014 I moved to Albury to undertake university studies at Charles Sturt University where I am studying a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management. This is a four year course which I hope will lead me into a career working with native Australian threatened species with the National Parks and Wildlife Service. In July 2014 I was nominated by Charles Sturt University to apply for a prestigious New Colombo Plan Scholarship which is only awarded to a select few of Australia’s most dedicated university students each year. After an online application process I was selected by the Australian Government from the Australian university nominations to engage in an interview at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra. During this interview I was allocated 30 minutes and was given a list of questions to expect in the interview by a panel of five highly distinguished members of the Australian and Japanese communities. Due to my performance in the interview I was chosen as one of 69 New Colombo Plan Scholarship recipients for study in 2015.
The New Colombo Plan is an initiative by the Australian Government to increase knowledge of the Indo- Pacific region in Australia and strengthen the relationship Australia has with other countries in the Indo-Pacific region. The 2014 round of New Colombo Plan Scholarships (for study in 2015) were awarded to 69 Australian students including myself. The scholarship supports Australian students to study in a number of countries across the Asia Pacific region and is valued at $23,000. This scholarship entitles continual support from the Australian Government in the form of an allocated case manager, insurance cover, up to $1,000 for regional language training, up to $15,000 paid tuition fees at a foreign university, $2,500 travel allowance to cover the cost of flights, $2,500 establishment allowance upon arrival in my host location and a $2,500 monthly stipend to support me whilst overseas. Aided by the scholarship I will be residing in Japan for a total of eight months.
Upon my arrival to Japan’s cultural city of Kyoto, I participated in the Ritsumeikan Summer Japanese Program from the 7th of July until the 7th of August, 2015. This opportunity involved intensive language training, Japanese culture classes and fieldwork excursions. The classes provided a thorough introduction to the Japanese language whilst maintaining a balance between reading and writing. Afternoon classes focused on business, sociology, history and traditional culture in Japan as well as proactive activities such as making sushi, creating traditional fans and participating in taiko. On the 8th of August 2015, I relocated from my accommodation at the Palace Side Hotel in central Kyoto to the Avocado Share House on the outskirts of Kyoto where I am interacting with other international students and practicing my Japanese in a relaxed environment. On the 16th of September 2015, I will move to university residences in Beppu. Beppu is a small, mountainous town in Japan with only 122,000 people. It is highly regarded for its natural hot springs and beautiful scenery. Formal university studies will commence on the 21st of September 2015 and conclude on the 8th of February 2016.
The main reason that I chose to study in Japan is to bridge the gap between Australia and the Asia Pacific region and to gain an understanding of Japan’s approach to environmental issues. Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Beppu offers an intensive language program and ongoing language training; a buddy system to ensure I settle into university life; subjects in both English and Japanese and; engages its students in a multicultural environment supported by a number of multicultural festivals. During October I will participate in the Tenku Campus Festival which is rich in cultural performances, tea ceremonies and international cuisine. This festival will allow me to settle into university life at Beppu and deepen my cultural connection with the area. From December to January I will also have the opportunity to participate in the Multicultural Weeks Festival. This festival will expose me to vibrant cultures from all over the world. I will return to Australia on the 26th of February 2016 after a few weeks of sightseeing and travel throughout Japan. In March 2016 I will recommence my studies at Charles Sturt University in Albury.
I hope that was a bit of an introduction to who I am and the reasons I am studying abroad. In the next couple of days I will hopefully make some detailed posts about what I’ve been up to in the last six weeks so stay tuned!