I’m booked, but not sorted…

28 06 2010

Well, it’s certainly been a while since I’ve had anything to blog about on this growingly dull blog of mine. First there was exams, and then there was the period after exams in which I do a whole lot of nothing but…well ye nothing. And now I’ve actually started making a move on things once more as the 2 month mark (until I leave) has just come past. So originally I had been looking into flights to leave on the 27th of August, but it seems I was stupid enough NOT to book and so the tickets soon became sold out. Instead now I’m leaving on the 26th of August, and heading in there with still no plan as of yet. Let me explain my current situation to you in the following paragraph with plain and boring facts, whether or not you choose to read thats up to you!

To begin with, I am allowed to stay in the dorms for Kansai Gaidai from the 28th of August (Saturday), and must at least book in by the 31st of August (Tuesday) and in between that is the Sunday in which we are not allowed to enter the dorms (I believe). Ok, so I arrive on the 27th which makes me a day early, and so now I have to find a place to stay before hand, and then find my own way to the dorms or go to Kyoto station to get the bus to the dorms from there (which only leaves at 3pm on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday). I am leaning in the direction of not going to the dorms until Monday, or Tuesday although I could go Saturday. I figure if I do go stay elsewhere I will contact friends in the area, or even stay with one and spend my first few days like that rather than trying to get to the dorms and surround myself with English speaking people as soon as possible. So I have to make a decision before the 10th of July for all this. But, none the less, the fact is I am booked and I will be going it seems! Although I’m still waiting on that seemingly illusive CoE (Certificate of Eligibility) for my visa.

And of course beyond that, there is the mental preparation that needs to be done for myself, because as much as I love spontaneous things, I prefer it be in a situation where all my plans have turned sour and then I can just wing it from there. If I can not make some half-solid plans to get me settled before I go I don’t imagine myself turning up in a very calm fashion.  Though other than that I can only start blabbing on about how I really should start immersing myself in Japanese again, with reading (websites, manga etc), listening (movies, music etc) and writing practice (can I get a ‘hooray’ for kanji?). So ye, lets end this post before it gets any worse.


Define acceptance…

13 05 2010

ヤッタ!I have been accepted by Kansai Gaidai University, and it seems that I will be going in August off to this land of vast language barriers and culture clashes. Yes, I’m not going to hype this up too much because the whole application has all become rather tiny in the long run as the real problems I will face will not involve “what shall I write as my motivation for studying in Japan”‘ etc etc, but rather much bigger and complex issues. At the moment I’m really trying to get my Japanese up to a speed that will allow me to communicate at least on a very basic level, whilst at the same time cover the points necessary to get past the level I want to in the JLPT (which would have originally been to pass 3, but now with the new system (that isn’t that new?) I’m a little confused as to what to aim for, and as such I am just いっしょけんめい勉強している for now). Perhaps I am expecting a little too much for someone at my level, I have either been achieving top mark or close to in my class’ tests, and am not by any means in the bottom section for my speaking. But having friends who are in a higher level I think has meant I’m comparing myself to what is for now the unachievable.

Digressing no further, point of this post being that from here on it is now another wait for my Certificate of Eligibility (CoE) from Kansai Gaidai University, so that I can apply for Visa. Apparently this comes towards the end of June or so, though  no certainty on that, could be July yet, no one knows (which apparently seems to be the fun of this entire process??). And on another note I did write “Define acceptance…” (with a negative nuance if you did pick up on it?) for a reaason, because it seems that all the spots for the JASSO scholarship have been taken, I have heard from numerous people around the globe that their exchange advisors have said the scholarship is not available to anyone this semester, or something along those lines. And continuing with the rumours, something to do with over-budgetting and now they have to cut back this semester. Perhaps I can still hope for a miracle, but at the moment it would seem in vain. The news is actually rather crushing knowing that I can’t get it at all, as opposed to never having had the chance in the first place, which now means I will have to look into other financial support options for sure. Gotta love money issues.


Well, either way main priority seems to be on my Japanese none the less, exams and such coming up at the moment so it’s not like I got the time to be worrying about “paper” issues, when I have many things to feed my brain! Anyone reading who is planning on applying, I give you this advice: Until you actually are IN Japan, you will remain in a state of “waiting”, whether it be for application results for your uni, the uni abroad, the consulate (visa) and anything else you decide to apply to during this period to add to the fun of it (such as summer/winter jobs etc). So learn to push things aside easily, no point sitting idle I guess…


Onto the final lap…

15 04 2010

And so I make the turn into my final lap(-se in time, i.e. my last wait I have to endure before finding out for sure if I get to go to Kansai Gaidai or not). So what you may ask? Yeh, I have to say at this point I agree. I’m not getting cocky as such, but the fact is its so out of my hands now I just have to get on with the job in front of me, that is my studies! And the fact that I know its not even the final wait if I do get accepted is kind of a real ‘buzz-kill’ also, because even once I do get accepted I’ll still be waiting on forms for my visa, and then goes the mad rush getting everything organised in time to leave. I’m really not sure about the timing for this time of year (i.e. starting in the “Fall Semester”), but I know from others that things can end up being left very late, so whether or not that is due to their academic calendar for us international students or if it happens every semester I don’t know. And what I mean by ‘academic calendar for international students’ is exactly that, stupidly enough the Japanese students at the university apparently have a very different academic calendar, one which is more conventional by Japan’s standards. I can’t say that overly thrills me knowing that the place will be ruled by International students for a period of time, because that wouldn’t be much of a ‘cultural experience’. Well mostly it bugs me because if it is true then club activities I’m guessing would not be running as per normal for that first bit we are there, which would seriously kill my best opportunity for getting involved, and not to mention my only way of getting some sport time in. Either way, thinking of all this stuff is getting a little ahead of myself, the fact remains exchange is still no certainty despite how probable some may say it is.


Language issues for the win...

So in other news, language ability, ever feel like its on a day to day basis? Lately I have, it seems  despite how much I study or practice I can quite easily come across a day which is rather crushing to my hopes of achieving highly in my Japanese skills (and I’m not just talking about scores on paper, to me success lies in my ability to communicate with a person in the language and nothing else, after all thats what language is there for, as a medium for communication). It doesn’t take me long find my motivation again considering its all I seem to surround myself in, but still a momentary feeling of being overwhelmed certainly can set you back in the long run. Well I’ll cut this short here, otherwise I’ll end up writing down the thoughts I go through everyday relating to my language struggle haha (not that I haven’t already let some slip…)!


ピース! Peacee.

Application, or fabrication…

1 04 2010

At last the next set of papers to fill has arrived, in the form of userID and password to grant me access to the online application system which Kansai Gaidai has running. Though everything you fill in online gets printed out and sent by hand anyway, so I’m guessing the “online system” was created as a method of being able to read people’s applications better more than anything else. Looking at all these sort of application questions again, I see how rediculously subjective these questions are. From “how often do you consume alcohol?” to ‘are you interested in the exchange program for language and/or cultural reasons?’ It’s certainly an open opportunity to lie about your position, and one would only hope this would be corrected by the letter of recommendations from tutors, but one has to wonder if they themselves want to be brutally honest, or be nice and try get you a position to study abroad (considering they were nice enough from the start to take the time to write a letter about you for your application). So application or fabrication? Well I know which I’m choosing, I want them to accept ME to study over their, not some ideal student that I managed to write down on paper. Besides, I’m a hopeless liar as is..



Then again on a seperate pattern of thought, lying would eventually catch up with the person as they go through various testing and so on by outside sources who, one would hope, would be less willing to lie for them. I only think of all this anyway because I hear stories of people travelling over their for no other reasons other than to be able to party it up in a new country like an extended holiday with a bit of study on the side. I’ve met with these sort of people, and it really makes you wonder how they can get there (to Japan) to study, when their mindset is ‘like that’.

And now back to the starting point of this post; I have now begun my application to Kansai Gaidai. It is a little less work in terms of writing on my end but it certainly will be bothersome to collect all the necessary items for the application in the 2 weeks i have left to do so (we only were given a little over 2 weeks to do this anyway…). So looks like I’ll be running around frantically getting past tutors to write letters of recommendation, getting my Japanese teacher to fill out a form of recommendation (in Japanese), getting passport size ID photos (apparently these are not so cheap? considering I need 10 or 11 I believe…), having a physical exam (健康診断) and so on. All this in the name of showing my ‘fitness’ to be able to cope with exchange. One would only hope these long lists of requirements would deter those with the wrong reasons (I know, I always go back to this…but the thought does frustrate me…).

Anyway, point of reflection for me for now seems to be:

As much as I do think an experience like this would transcend ‘a language learning curve’ and go beyond that, I still am stuck on this one point; will my language skill be enough to get me involved from the start? Because as much as I study, learn outside of my current courses and take part in the consumption of Japanese popular culture for both entertainment and learning purposes…I still feel insufficient in terms of skill in so many ways. Fortunately having some friends who I can use plain form with and have them correct me and teach me new things has made the process of learning a little easier, but none the less it still seems like it is a long way to go…’Dear Fluency, I know you’re out there somewhere, I just haven’t found you yet…or is your existence merely a subjective figment of my own imagination?’


But mere stepping stones…

18 03 2010

So it is now 4 weeks into semester 1 at UWA for 2010, and at last the first of my anxious waits is all but over. I have received confirmation that UWA will recommend me for exchange to my first preference of university (i.e. Kansai Gaidai University). What awaits me ahead is still slightly unknown, besides more lengthy applications and waits, however that is not what worries me in the slightest…

At the moment my major concern and priority is my language proficiency in Japanese. Because of the time of year I’m going I actually will end up either repeating what I’ve learnt and not gaining as much out of it, or will have to study and cram like I never have before in order to jump up that extra step and be able to achieve so much more. At the end of it all, it would have been wasteful to have not given it my all and challenge myself to the fullest. I somewhat feel that my efforts at the moment are being made futile almost as the pace things are going at. Doing both Japanese Intermediate Bridging (2201) and the unit that its supposed to bridge to (Japanese Intermediate I (2203)) is somewhat difficult. I mean I don’t believe I’m struggling the most out of everyone, but I feel the pressure on myself (probably from myself) to achieve at a level of those who have probably had exchange experience and so forth after years of learning Japanese in highschool. Slightly unrealistic I realise, however in the bigger picture it is a level that I believe I need to attain in order to be able to “survive” in Japanese society, and break down the language barrier to a level that brings me much greater opportunity.


And on a side note, it appears I have run into a slight patch of trouble in terms of my chances of succeeding in my application. Though I have yet to do some research of my own into the matter, the word on the street seems to be that the number of people applying for Kansai Gaidai has reached a slightly rediculous level, further more considering the number of people that were sent from UWA to Kansai Gaidai last semester. I maybe mistaken but even the Head of Japanese Language as university has made the suggestion of applying to other universities. Whether or not thats just his way of helping me out though is yet to be known (please note the sarcasm in this sentence…). None the less it appears I may have to do the whole “weigh up my options” thing all over again, and see what I have available to me. At this point in time though, in my head its all just hit a brick wall and I’m being rather stubborn, because I don’t want to change my plan now. Even if this means waiting until the next period to apply again then so be it because the other offers to me didn’t seem very attractive before, so I’m not so sure that will change anytime soon. Well, I will talk to some people and see what gets said and take my next step from there. I never expected things to go down smoothly, so I can’t complain too much…


Beyond the dream…

19 02 2010

Today, for pretty much the first time since I’ve really started to drive myself forwards on this “road to Japan”, I took a step back. Well, technically it would be more of a metaphorical ‘step to the side’ if the road to Japan was one long straight one…but I’m going to stick with a step back because goodness knows this road will never be direct, but rather winding and all over the place, one with forks and so forth that will tempt me to get lost along the way. And to me this road is not just for the lead up to exchange (if I succeed), but rather the entire exchange experience itself is all apart of the same road because there will be challenges that I will face as a direct effect of the exchange program in Perth, as well as the many expected and unexpected challenges I will no doubt have to face if I do end up going to Japan. And to me the greatest challenge or decision I think I would find on this road is the decision for which path to take if everything doesn’t go to plan, and if I get rejected from exchange. I know it sounds all a little pesimistic and possibly unlikely to some people, but none the less it probably is something I should consider…


unrelated - completely...

And in all honesty, at this point of thought I got stuck. What would I do if I don’t succeed? Would it really take that much out of me knowing the effort I would have put in with structuring my units around going on exchange? Putting extra effort into my Japanese, taking on extra responsibility with being a peer leader amongst other things I’ve done in the belief it will help me when on my way to exchange will no doubt influence my reaction to the all ending rejection from the exchange program. Though there is not a chance that the things I do in preperation for exchange with the expectation of going will have gone to waste. But when motivation is lost I see things becoming a little more difficult. Would I really be mentally prepared to take on another semester as if things weren’t as I had dreamed them to be? Though a selfish thought I know, I can’t help but ponder further about dropping out, deferring, finding a full time job and moving out perhaps, as I will likely try search for another angle to attack from and persevere once more to try get back to where I want to be. This may either say not a lot for my commitment, or speak loudly for the sort of expectations I have in exchange, not even for the experience it will grant, but more so a ticket out of life here, something to completely break the circle and clear a new horizon to drift towards.

Its a little testing I think to try think about where I may end up in the next to years, when my next 6 months more so than any other year has the probability of many twists and turns. But none the less, rejection from exchange will never be failure to succeed in persueing the dream, only but a small test of my persistence.

“The determination to win is the best part of winning.” – Daisaku Ikeda.

I will end this here, its probably a little negative and not something I should dwell on too much. Either way, the dream lives on into tomorrow and beyond…明日へ!


Another one bites the dust…

19 12 2009

Yazzah! I have finished the application to my home University and have done the math! My answers to the answers in total are more than 6000 words, oh what a relief that I can forget about those questions. Though I will not submit it until just before the deadline as I continue to read it through and make sure it really is what I want the application processing staff to read (because I love doing this application THAT much!). None the less I will still say; so has ended what only seems to be the introductory chapter to a whole novel about student exchange to Kansai Gaidai. And so now the waiting games begin. Based on the experiences of others I doubt this will be a pleasant 3~month wait for further information regarding the application process, with such uncertainty hovering over my head as to just what the future will hold for me! But yes until I actually get any more news on the topic (which won’t be for 3~months! *look of horror*) this will leave me topic-less for blog posts for quite some time , and I will probably resort to posting some fun findings as I further look into my plans for exchange (I’m obsessed, what else can I say?).

I don’t imagine this next period waiting for a response will be an entirely comfortable one, with such suspense. It seems to have left me in a situation where I’m not sure if I should continue on with my research and enthusiasm into the exchange program to a point where I am certain about almost everything, which would only lead to greater disappointment if I do get rejected. Or my alternative, which on second thought is probably the preferred option, I get back into studying Japanese rather than just Japan and exchange there because I imagine if I do get there, at the end of the day having a greater knowledge of the language will always help me more than knowing where to buy a surge protector for my laptop when I get to Japan (though I still need to know this, I’m not going to destroy another $1500 laptop just because I didn’t have the correct electrical adaptors to safely use it…).

A slight dramatization of what might happen…

Thinking of just how much I will probably rely on having a laptop in Japan (if I go, ergh so many “ifs” and “buts” at this point in time…), it’s got me thinking, what would be the 10 most important things that would be required in Japan on exchange, not necessarily tangible things either for example: a mind ready to absorb new culture and language is definetly on my list to make the experience worthwhile..So I leave you with this question, what would YOUR 10 most important items be to take on exchange (not necessarily to Japan either), and they can be both tangible or in-tangible.


Let the applications begin…

5 12 2009

Ok, so I have just 6 days left until my application to UWA is due in (i.e. a deadline of 11/12/09 11:59pm). For the most part I am done, a few minor questions left to answer as I ponder them, they are quite tough questions really. Though none the less I do see how the uni deems such questions necessary as to make sure the people who they select to “recommend for exchange” have the right motives and so forth behind them. Here’s a link to the questions of the last part of my application, split into three parts:

UWA’s Application Questions for 2010 semester 2 exchange

And I’m sure once you’ve read it, you will understand why it is that I am having trouble answering questions 1a),1d) and 1e) of Part C: General Questions in the application. This sort of self assessment for me is not the easiest sort of thing to write about, I think they look at this and try find a well-rounded person instead of rather just someone who stands out, because it is often likely someone who stands out in a way that is almost unnatural just screams that what is written doesn’t come from within, but rather just what they can come up with off the top of their head. So although time may seem tight for me getting down to the last week before the exchange application is due, I think I’ll still really try take my time on this and make sure what I write expresses me, and doesn’t go in a direction that chases ‘good attention’ from the readers of the application.

On top of this though the application involves a statement of purpose (including academic motives, expected challenges and benefits of the exchange etc) which is limited at 2 pages in length. Also of course for formality purposes, there are other basic details and questions on the application, but when it comes down to it the bulk of the decision that rests with the people processing the applications would be based on how well the person can answer the questions, demonstrate their ability with researching the information that would be required to draw as much as they can from the exchange experience and of course the students grades. I’m hoping that I can satisfy all these criteria and more and get just that one step closer to stepping foot in Japan once more!

Step by step…

Ok, so lets get a little bit ahead of myself and just assume acceptance from UWA, where does the path take me from here? Well to more applications of course, hardly delightful I know, but if I’m not even willing to go through the application process then I obviously don’t have what it takes to go at all. So next in line for applications, would be my application to the host university, Kansai Gaidai University. This is where it gets a little more involved, a list of the following things is required by Kansai Gaidai:

  1. Application for Admission (submitted online + a copy printed and signed and mailed)
  2. Transcript(s)
  3. Three Letters of Recommendation (Forms to be downloaded from K-GENESYS)
    These letters should be from former or present instructors or academic advisors of college level institutions.
  4. Japanese Instructor’s Reference Form (can be included as a letter of recommendation).
  5. Medical Information Form (Form to be downloaded from K-GENESYS)
    To be completed by the applicant and a physician.
  6. Confidential Financial Questionnaire (Form to be downloaded from K-GENESYS)
  7. Ten Identification Photographs (with quite specific measurements etc.)
  8. Certificate of English Proficiency (not required if English is your native language)
  9. A copy of passport

It’s probably not as all as bad as it sounds, and it really doesn’t matter anyway because I’d be willing to sit through virtually anything to get me in. But anyway moving on, that is not where the applying ends. There is more. This is where things become a little more blurry for me so far, and I’ll probably have to wait until the time comes and request assistance from my home university, because from here comes scholarship applications (such as JASSO and Japan’s Government “Monbukagakusho” scholarship) and the process to obtain a student visa for Japan (which first requires acceptance from the host university Kansai Gaidai). And once all this can be confirmed I can pay for my plane tickets and start packing! Of course I am well in advance of myself here, as I won’t even find out until around March 2010 if I have the recommendation of my university to go on exchange.

I think everyone goes into this whole process quite unprepared for just how much is involved, I know I certainly did. And although it is still early days, I see room for growth in such a short period because the amount of commitment and effort required to go through the entire process really makes you think “Is this what I want?”, “Will I be able to draw a lot from such an experience?”, etc etc. I know I certainly have found further confidence in myself knowing just how much such an experience would mean for me. And most people will soon find that if they really desire for the exchange experience like I do, it becomes more than just academic motivations and the raw elements that can be drawn from it such as better language ability and better cultural understanding, I believe it goes much deeper than that with such a large amount of reflecting necessary for the process. Am I alone in this? Am I a little bit crazy to think that student exchange expands beyond being an academic and cultural experience? What do you think, and if you’re in the process of applying or have been on exchange before, what are your experiences?

And I’ve just realised it, I should probably pardon myself for going a little off topic from applications, but I just wrote what flowed and figured it’d be nice to get my thoughts down as a reference point especially for myself as I progress through this process…

じゃ、ピース! Peace