My name is Tim, I am currently studying at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. Studying overseas has been an eye-opening experience, and I have been able to delve into the language and culture in a way I couldn’t experience anywhere else. A simple bike ride or walk to the university allows me to see various temples and shrines that define the history and identity of Kyoto city. Studying at Ritsumeikan has been a brilliant (and difficult) experience, where the study layout shows the commitment Ritsumeikan places on academic attributes, and how this leads to a rewarding and valuable study experience. During April, the campus itself was drowning in Sakura, transforming the Uni into something out a Ghibli film (my description doesn’t even do it justice).
My experience with Japan has been one of mixed feelings, predominantly due to the fact I could not continue my studies throughout another semester. This semester studying in Kyoto has granted me a much-needed boost in my language ability and my personal study commitments, yet there have been moments where I regret studying instead of seeing events and hidden areas of Kyoto. I’ve been to Fushimi inari Shrine, the Golden temple, the Gion, kiyomizu dera, the imperial grounds, Nijo Castle, etc etc, and I have still barely scratched the surface. Kyoto is also a great middle ground to see other key places in Japan, and a busy train ride into Osaka can open your eyes to a whole new side of Japan. Hiroshima, Tokyo, Nara, Lake Biwa, all these places are easily accessible from Kyoto. However, if you hold an Australia driver license and are a decent driver, applying for an international driver’s permit is highly recommended for the holidays within the semesters.
I strongly advise you to attend for a year rather than a single semester (especially if you’re studying overseas for language). My advice would be to immerse yourself as much as possible, as the last thing you want is your experience of Japan to be one of a dusty room covered in empty coffee cups and stained textbooks, instead of experiencing the beauty and hospitality this city has to offer. Study hard (you’ll need it), but climb the mountains, see the rivers, be social, live in Kyoto, and don’t just simply study in it.
– Timothy Gill