Well good morning! Or should I say konichiwa!
Yes, that’s right, I am going on exchange at APU Japan! Yippee!!
Wow that was a lot of exclamation marks but you must excuse me, I have been up since 03:50 this morning and I am running on the power of two very decent sized coffees already. Ahhh coffee.. supporter of early flights, sponsor of university degrees; it has been getting me up to adult since 2002. True story: Coffee loves you for the wonderful person you can be. Decaf hates you and wants you to die sleepy.
At the time of writing, it’s 5am and I’m in the departures lounge at Newcastle Airport, drinking a giant cappuccino that I accidentally stole from a fellow passenger when I picked up the wrong sized beverage off the counter. Given that less than five hours ago, I was dancing to eighties disco in my AirBnB, I probably need the larger cup more than him. Sorry my friend, it’s a dog drink coffee world out there.
Anyhoo, I should probably introduce myself. At the risk of sounding like an AA member…Hi I’m Sian, I’m a distance-ed student of Emergency Management and based in Melbourne. I’m twenty-eight so I guess you could call me a ‘mature student’. Gosh that makes me sound so… mature? Yikes, not sure I’m ready for that title yet. I already felt old this morning when I saw that Buffy the Vampire Slayer started twenty years ago today. I actually used the sentence “back in the day” last weekend without a tinge of irony. The horror! Okay so I’m joking… well kind of. I’m in my second year of my bachelor but I actually study part time which means I have spent the majority of this degree moving from text book to work desk to coffee cup and back, thoroughly confused about what time it is, what I’ve done already and what I am supposed to be doing right at that moment. This exchange is the first time I will be studying full time and also the first time I will be living in student accommodation. As a fairly seasoned traveller, I suspect this will probably be where my own personal challenges lie but I am looking forward to making some new friends and experiencing university life in a brand new way.
So the trip! Or as I am now referring to it ‘Operation Alpaca’ (as in Alpaca my bags.. Yes… thank you thank you, I’m here all week…) on the basis that I have to keep rejigging my backpack and hand luggage for the differing airline weight allowances. Always great when half your carry-on is made up of books about terrorism and air crashes. Yeah.. airport security really loved that. Anyways, I started off in Newcastle three days ago. My little brother has just completed his rifleman training at Singleton so the family and I flew up from Melbourne to see him march out. Since he is being stationed in Darwin, I am unsure when we will next all be together so the weekend was the perfect opportunity to have a good old family send off for both of us departing Taylor kids… and boy did we celebrate!
(My poor mother’s ongoing attempt to get a nice picture of us)
Now I am on my way to Wellington, New Zealand to take part in the Massey University Emergency Management Summer Institute Program through CSU Global for a week. On completion, I will fly back to the GC overnight and then straight on to Tokyo. After two nights in a extremely Japanese capsule hotel, I’m flying down to Oita to make my way to the APU student exchange house in Beppu where I will be living for the next five months.
The fab thing about this process so far, besides how great you become filling in forms (trust me, Australian Immigration was a cakewalk in comparison!), is all the amazing people I have connected with so far just in the planning process. APU have a really great online community that you can get involved and meet people through even before you arrive. I am also looking forward to a few beers with the NZ crew tonight thanks to CSU connecting us on a Facebook group. Locally, I have made new friends through people I know who have been so happy to share advice about the country they love. I also joined a Japanese language class and was lucky to meet a lovely bunch of people who loved mumbling their way through suspect Japanese phrases over an Asahi as much as I did. I can’t recommend enough that you start connecting early. It really wets your appetite for the journey ahead and makes you feel so much more supported from the get go.
(My new friend Ai-Chan who is giving me Japan advice and some Jagua ink over lunch. The right wrist says Tabibito (traveller) and the left says Sian)
(The Japaneasy language class taking lessons on the road for some post-class beers and delicious Japanese food in Melbourne.)
Right well, I better leave it there for now. I have rambled at you enough for one day. We are about to board and I am planning on spending the next three hours crammed in a fetal position, learning how to type an assignment with the arm movement range of a T-Rex. You have to love domestic air travel. At least I have a cold beer with some new friends waiting on the other side. As Yazz once sang on the year of my birth (aaaaall those years ago), the only way is up!