It’s that time where you reflect on the memorable moments of the year and in 2016, it has been an incredible year. An exchange experience is more than just your average holiday. You learn so many things every day, without even trying. It’s a life-changer for me and I 100% recommend people to go on exchange. Time to look back at the year and my personal growth.
JANUARY, FEBRUARY, MARCH
I was in Sydney for the first 3 months of 2016 and this was the time where I had to prepare myself for the exchange to Japan. Attended a few farewell parties for my Japanese friends and several meetups with my senpais, who have given me a lot of advice. Most people, especially my relatives are very supportive of me. I even did volunteering for the Chinese New Year to gain some form of experience.
The transition to Japan was relatively smooth, probably because I can already communicate in Japanese with little problem. Though the biggest obstacle was being able to interact with other people. I was very, VERY shy and felt lonely at the very beginning as I didn’t get to see many people in the Kaikan (most of them went to different places cause it was holiday). Being the only UTS student to go to the University of Yamanashi, I felt pressure to behave appropriately as well, but that quickly faded away over time.
Shingen-Ko Festival was the highlight in April. It’s considered to be the most popular festival in Kofu and I got a chance to meet new people and understand the history behind Takeda Shingen.
- Saw major landmarks in Yamanashi
- went to a local cafe called iira, which I’m now a regular visitor.
- Somehow attended a seminar on Cultural Business and Local (Regional) Promotions, which I understood about 60% of the time.
- Hiking, Izakayas with friends and a Wine Festival
- Watched a soccer match where Ventforet Kofu has one Australian player.
- Bought some clothes for summer
- Did an interview in Japanese for a language school in Kofu
- Went to Tokyo to do the compulsory voting at the Australian Embassy and to meetup with friends
- Did a homestay for the weekend. Was a very nice experience and got to see traditional temples and learn the history behind it.
- Ate a bunch of shaved-ice cause the month was a scorcher
- Watched 君の名は , which was the best film I’ve seen in a long time
- Climbed Mt. Fuji
- Went to Disneysea
- Summer Comiket
- Bought a yukata and attended two popular 花火大会in Yamanashi.
- Osaka, USJ and the Aquarium with friends
- Tokyo with my mum for a week
- Watched 四月は君の嘘 and 聲の形
- Shizuoka and Yamanashi field trip which was organised by the University
- Watched 君の名は for the second time
- Welcome Party for the new exchange students
- Tried Yamanashi’s speciality food, Houtou.
- Attended a seminar which focused on self-development
- FREE FOOD when I attended a meeting with all the other exchange students in Yamanashi
- Ate more ramen than I thought at the ramen festival near Kofu Station
- Halloween Party at iira
- 昇仙峡 with friends
- Did 生け花
- Went to the school festival and saw a band called TOTAL FAT (not even kidding).
- Got Pokemon Sun and Moon and playing it in Japanese for the first time
- SNOW IN KOFU!!
- Stayed up until 3 in the morning to watch Yuri!!! on Ice on TV
- Celebrate my birthday and asked a Japanese girl out.
- Took the JLPT N2 at the University of Tokyo
- A social gathering where I got to see the university president in person and talk to many professors
- Went to Tokyo again to meet up with my senpai, while also buying Xmas presents for my girlfriend.
- Participated in a Speech Contest for Exchange students in Yamanashi
- Did a police patrol and got freebies!!
- Xmas Party with KFC Chickens as dinner!
- Went on a date to see illumination at Sagamiko during Xmas Day.
- Started learning Japanese Phonetics.
PHEW! That was a lot of things I did in 2016. The main takeaway from this exchange experience is that I changed myself from being a very shy person, to someone who is willing to interact with others, even in a different language. I just hope that I’ll continue to grow as a better person next year when I return to my home country.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!