Studying at the Doshisha University has been a semi-dream that I aspired towards when entering the University of Sunshine Coast. I heard many stories from my brother and my friends about the lifestyle in Japan, and on arrival, I have to admit it is opposite from Australia. The first month, I was fascinated in exploring Tokyo and Kyoto before University started. I had a slight feeling that I would have a dozen overload of kanjis to study for, and in the end, I am glad that I did.
I spent ten days in Tokyo before arriving in Kyoto, and I was able to experience the modern city life and see Mt Fuji. It was fantastic! It is a whole different perspective from seeing it in the photo to the real life thing. I visited from Kamakura, Asakusa, Tokyo Tower, Mt Fuji to Shibuya. I was enjoying the food, visiting my friends and the holiday feeling. From there I travelled down via Shinkansen, called Nozomi, to Kyoto. If you do happen to go, I recommend travelling by Shinkansen at least once – as you can see a different side of Mt Fuji on the way.
A week prior I got into contact with Doshisha’s International Management Mori-san, and she was able to prepare a volunteer student to help me settle when I had arrived in Kyoto. The student volunteer was an amazing girl, she helped me move into my dormitory and register my address onto the resident card and helped apply for a required health care insurance in Kyoto. Not only that, she even gave me information to find the cheapest supermarket in Kyoto, how to pay many of my bills and so on.
From then, every week, I got the opportunity to explore the Kyoto city’s life. It is much greener than Tokyo and has many tourist spots near the University. I was happy to live in a location where I would walk at least 30 min down the road to the major street mall at Sanjo and Shijo. If you do have the opportunity, please do make plans to visit in March to Early April as the cherry blossom trees were such a beautiful sight to see every day. Truthfully, I had taken at least a dozen of photos of the same tree each day. I have been in love with the green tea, the food and ice-cream, as well as mochi, taiyaki, pancake, the Kyoto’s tofu and Kura Sushi. For those who enjoy buying clothes, I would suggest visiting Osaka, not only the Castle is enormous but the fashion in Osaka is cheaper than Kyoto and has more of variety in one street mall.
For the lifestyle at university, all the teachers are very friendly and understanding, I have met a lot of local Japanese university students to converse with inside and outside of college. And especially I found such great friends in the dormitory and the school, that had experience the same exchange student lifestyle. They had helped me settle and understand what to do in the university. We help each other out with studies, reading mail, and figuring out when the next test times are. Many of those times we had social lunches, dinners and just hang out in the kitchen. Without these friends, I don’t think I would have settled in as quickly than three weeks. Together, we struggled through the amount of homework and the kanji and readings. But when we had finished the week, we travel together to places around Kyoto, Osaka and Nara. I am hoping to go further out to Kobe, Mie, Okayama and Lake Biwako, as Kyoto and Osaka has a lot of local express trains to these locations.
I am thankful for the Study Overseas team and the University of Sunshine Coast teachers for arranging this opportunity for me to study here in Kyoto, Doshisha University.