Hey, my name is Kurt and I’m a linguistics student currently studying abroad for a year at Osaka Kyoiku University since March. Just at the end of my first semester, I’ve already had some of the most amazing experiences I could dream of. It’s my first time living out of the country long term, and I don’t regret it a single bit.
Moving to a country where the language is different is an equal mixture of excitement and terror. I have to say it was more daunting when I arrived then what I thought it would be. I may have just finished third year Japanese back home, but upon arrival quickly realized how little I knew and how much there was to learn. It was hard to come to terms with the fact that I was nowhere near as fluent as I wanted to be, but then again that’s all apart of the challenge, and I can happily say after a few months of being emerged in a language, everyday life becomes your classroom like no language lecture could ever be.
I guess when I came to Japan, like many people who go abroad, I was looking for change. Sometimes I think that the people who go overseas looking for change are the ones most likely to enjoy being somewhere different, and those that aren’t willing to give up the comfort of their home countries lifestyle are the ones who struggle. Having said that, it’s weird how much comfort I’ve found in the things I liked about my home area of the Northern Rivers in Australia. I’ve visited waterfalls, gone on beach trips, and enjoyed the nightlife of Osaka that seems to never sleep, even on weekdays. Sometimes Australians come with a cruisy attitude that’s not easily recognised in other countries, but being yourself in a new country is totally possible, and I’ve certainly found my taste of “homelife” amongst everything Japanese.
As for my thoughts on Japan, I guess as Australians we often get so comfortable in our sense of multiculturalism and acceptance that we forget that being different in other countries is, well, different. Japan may be a homogenous society, but the kinds of people are varied beyond anything. You’ll have the old woman on the train who stares at you until she’s so scared of the foreigner that she moves carriages, and at the next stop you’ll have the old woman who wants to have a chat with you and invites you to her home for dinner!
It still feels surreal being overseas, and I can’t understand how normal it’s become to wake up everyday in this country, just on the edge of a gigantic city. But I still have 7 months left, and I’m sure to learn a lot more.
If you’d like to know more about studying abroad as part of your Griffith University degree check out our Global Mobility website – there’s heaps of options to choose from including full semesters and short term programs.