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USC student Luke Booker studying overseas at Akita International University in Japan

received_1426472970850174Hi! My name’s Luke and I’m a third-year student studying a Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management). Having just experienced a semester abroad in Japan, there are lots of amazing things to share!

I remember hearing about the Study Overseas program and instantly deciding it was an opportunity too good to miss. I chose Japan because the culture is intriguing, and I knew it would be a beneficial step outside of my comfort zone. The possibility of future career paths also interested me, as Japan and Australia share increasingly strong foreign relations.

I decided to study at Akita International University (AIU), which is located in the countryside of Akita prefecture. Away from the neon lights and bustle of Tokyo, this seemed like an unlikely choice for me. However, I thought it might be nice to experience a quaint slice of Japanese life – and save Tokyo for the weekend trips. I’m happy I made this choice, because little did I know, I was about to fall in love with a side of Japan that I had never really thought about. And besides, it took only 30 minutes to get to Akita City which was good for getting my city fix. Akita Prefecture is renowned for its natural beauty, and if you like the outdoors, then there is a lot for you to do and see! It was lovely to see the landscape change with the seasons, and also to have my first snowy winter.

IMG_20190824_132013Studying at AIU was really a unique once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it’d be very hard to find something else like it. There is always a large number of international students studying there, making the campus a wonderful cultural melting pot. It’s compulsory to live in an on-campus dorm, and international students are paired with a Japanese roommate – this helped a lot with making friends. The campus is similar in size to USC Sippy Downs, so you’re always seeing familiar faces. Most students also eat together in the cafeteria, and this quickly became one of my favourite things. AIU also offers a variety of clubs, social events and common spaces, and I can guarantee you will make lifelong friends and connections. The fact that you are always seeing and experiencing this new life with other students really builds a strong community atmosphere. I made some of my best friends through hiking, playing badminton and jamming in the music room. I will never forget the peaceful (and sometimes quite demanding) mountain hikes we did and the stunning views that Akita had to offer. After each hike we would eagerly make our way to an onsen (a natural hot spring) and ease our aching legs in the steaming volcanic water… aahhh!

IMG_20190920_151948I was also lucky enough to be invited to the Australia-Japan Youth Dialogue reception hosted at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo. I met some other Australian students and also some professionals who play a key role in managing the foreign relations between our countries. It was an inspirational night!

This has been one of the best and most fulfilling things I’ve done so far. If you decide to study abroad, I do have a piece of advice. You should be willing to adapt to all cultural aspects and approach it as a personal challenge. In doing so, you will get a lot more out of the experience. If studying abroad is something you’re unsure about, I would love to help out – feel free to get in touch via my student email: L_B132@student.usc.edu.au

Thank you for reading my post.

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