Jessica Harper

Date: SP2, 2014
Degree Program: Master of Teaching (MMET)
Host University: Nagoya University
Host Country: Japan

Why did you choose your host university?

Previously I had spent a semester at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies in Nagoya Japan, so was quite familiar with the city. The opportunity to undertake the NUPACE program in the same city I had previously been, alongside their vast selection of courses and Japanese program, was very attractive to me.

What was the university like?

University in Japan is much like High School in Australia, classes started at 8.45 in the morning, if you undertake the Japanese Language program – particularly at the intensive level, with some classes running until 6.15-7.45pm, being the latest for Academic and Business Japanese classes. Classes run at 1hour 35 minute intervals throughout the day. Lunch is at 12pm, and everyone in the entire university has lunch at the same time, there are quite a few on campus dining halls, a convenience store and other close options for lunch available.

The university itself is quite big, facilities in some areas are very modern. International students for the NUPACE program have a building where most of their classes will be, with the lower half dedicated to the offices of the NUPACE program, as well as a lobby/lounge area where students can interact with one another.

The range of classes at NUPACE was quite diverse, as an education major I found more than enough classes to fulfil my requirements. We also had the option of undertaking G30 classes if we wanted, and if our Japanese level was high enough, we could take standard university classes (in Japanese).

 The office staff were very very helpful, no question was ever to difficult and they were committed to making your time in the NUPACE program as enjoyable as possible, further, during your time, you are allocated with a tutor (a Japanese student) who is there to assist with any queries or concerns you may have in your everyday life as well as assist you with Japanese language and or culture.. 

Student Jessica HarperWhat did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?

During my time in Japan, although this wasn’t my first time there, I think I changed a lot and definitely more than the first time I went on exchange. The way I think about things now is very different, particularly the way in which I communicate. Japanese is very subtle, and as such, learning to communicate in a way that was much more subtle was a very interesting experience. 

 I also got to see a lot more of Japanese life, and meet a lot of people, I had a part time job (it’s important to have a work permit) which was a fantastic experience and I got to meet a lot of people from an expansive age range. After this experience it made me realise I want to live in Japan for a longer period of time, so now I am working towards that. I made friends from all over the world, so I think, as is usual you begin to understand that there is no one right way of doing things, or thinking about things or seeing the world. It was a very very beneficial experience.

What accommodation options were available to you?  How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?

I lived on campus, at Higashiyama Residence and for me this was perfect, because I wasn’t too keen to live in a dorm sharing a kitchen with others, which was also available. Higashiyama was very cheap, the room has a bathroom, bed, desk, kitchenette, cupboard, a lot of shelves and a balcony. My expenses for the room at Higashiyama for one month would be around 200.00 at a maximum, this included linen rental, water fees and electricity. Gas was separate, but not too expensive – around 4000yen a month.
I would definitely recommend Higashiyama to anyone going to Meidai, it’s also good because you live in a building with other students, so you’re definitely not alone. 

Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries? 

I went on a few trips to Tokyo to visit friends and the university organises day trips to Kyoto and Nara for a very reasonable price, I think maybe it was around 2000Yen (20ish Australian Dollars).  I went to Kyoto for a few days, and with another group of friends I finally went to Shirakawago, which was breathtaking. I had spent a lot of time previously travelling in Japan, so travelled less this time.

 It’s very reasonable to get to Korea, Peach has very well priced air fares (to other parts of Asia as well) from Kansai Airport in Osaka otherwise Jeju Air flies to Korea from Chubu (Nagoya’s main ) Airport. Jetstar also flies to other regions of Japan from Chubu. 

Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.

I had previously been in Japan and knew the basics, so perhaps it wasn’t so difficult to adjust for me this time around, some things can be quite strange or frustrating at times though, and it’s important to remember that it’s just a different way of doing things, not necessarily wrong. The most frustrating thing was language, which once you start to get better, definitely makes life much easier. In general in Japan, even if your Japanese is not so great, people, particularly in official positions, try very hard to understand you, and make it so you can understand them. I was constantly pleasantly surprised by how kind and helpful people were.

The NUPACE program offers a lot of events, there were welcome parties right up until it was the end of the first semester, so if you’re sociable, its quite easy to meet other people, both international and Japanese students. There is a group of students called ACE who also hold events, as well as Help Desk who are situated in the IEEC lobby/lounge area. I think the best tip I could give, is just to talk to people, even if you’re embarrassed at your language ability or lack thereof, or shy, don’t worry and definitely do not let that stop you. Most, if not all, other students are really receptive and keen to get to know other people and make lasting connections. 

Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?

Being an Education Major, I had the opportunity to visit schools, do practical experience at an afterschool class at the universities in house child care facility, experience and learn about Japanese education, so that was very helpful, because it gave a very different perspective to what I had experienced in Australia.

I also undertook the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) and attained a level up during my time in Japan, which will definitely be useful. I also gained experience to work in Japan, which again was very beneficial, as I plan to return to Japan in the future. 

What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?

Just go. It’s been an incredible experience, something that everyone should have the chance to experience at least once in their life. You meet people from everywhere, form amazing connections, experience things that you could never experience in Australia and grow so much as a person. .

Top Tips:
Don’t let your language ability stop you. Some of the best relationships came about not because we spoke the same language, but because we took the time to understand each other.

Also, Japan is a cash based society, which is strange to get used to at the beginning, but even stranger to come back to Australia where it’s very card based!

Areas of study and research

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