Be clear, honest and concise about what you hope to achieve by going on exchange. Don’t write too much, 1-2 pages are sufficient, but don’t write too little either. You want to give the impression that you have given a lot of thought about the exchange experience, how it applies to your life now and what you hope to get out of it in the future. Explain how going on exchange will help you academically, and how it fits in with your overall “study plan”. In addition to this, outline what challenges you intend to face whilst studying abroad, and how these and the overall experience will help you grow as a person, and maybe how it will impact other areas of your life too (such as career). In short, just don’t give the impression that you are only applying to go on a holiday!

Dear whom it may concern,

I write with great interest in applying for a position in the Semester One 2011 UWA exchange program. I strongly believe that Kansai Gaidai University, a private, non-profit institution that has earned an excellent reputation for high quality education and programs for international students, or my other two selected institutions, Sophia and Kobe Universities, will provide me with an exciting opportunity as well as more than credible exposure to many of the ideas expressed in units of the Asian Studies degree at UWA, in which I am currently enrolled.  

Throughout my pre-University life, I have been exposed to many aspects of Asia, such as culture and language, through family relations, travel and Australia’s own increasingly multicultural nature, and from this I have developed a keen interest in the region and how Australia relates to it. Over time my interest in Asia focussed more and more on Japan; a focus which began to take shape as of year 8 in High School at **** ******** College, Ro*******, where I was enrolled in the school’s Japanese language program. In year 11 of my studies, I was selected to participate in ***** College’s short exchange program to Japan, in which I stayed with 3 Japanese host families, formed new friendships and attended multiple schools over 2 weeks, gaining first-hand exposure to Japanese culture and day to day life in the process. From this point onwards, I made a "specific" plan to broaden my view of the world, which included increasing my understanding of the diverse range of cultures we have on this planet, in particular within the region of Asia which has often been stereotyped as being one entity, with "one" culture. To achieve this goal, and broaden my understanding of our country’s closest neighbours, I enrolled in UWA’s Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) degree alongside a Bachelor of Commerce degree, and now feel as if it is only natural for me to be seeking to reconnect with Japan and in doing so, gain a practical understanding of the ideas, issues, themes etc. expressed in the Asian Studies units that I have already studied at UWA. I feel as if Semester One 2011 is definitely the most appropriate time during my studies to be doing exchange. It is almost halfway through my degree, and thus I will be able to maximise the practical benefits of exchange for the second half of my studies, hopefully improving my academic ability overall. If I was to apply for exchange at a later date, I would not even have half of my studies left in which I could put to use what I learnt on exchange practically at UWA.

I believe experiencing a semester of exchange in Japan will benefit me on three significant levels: academic, personal and career. Academically, the renowned Asian Studies program at Kansai Gaidai, and similar courses at Kobe and Sophia, is perfectly compatible with my Asian Studies degree at UWA. Therefore, my academic motivation is to complete the in-country exchange program, EXCH0913, to raise my level of Japanese language competence and to learn about Japanese society and culture "from the inside". The latter, as mentioned previously, will be extremely beneficial for my UWA Asian Studies degree by providing me with not only new content to research and study, but also a practical understanding of previously studied concepts, ideas etc. too. Personally, I cannot think of anything better than studying in an Asian Studies program, in Asia. Upon the completion of my exchange in Japan, 24 points will be credited towards my degree, so I will be able to return to my normal study plan, hopefully with new inspirations and understandings to push me further with my studies than I ever thought possible previously.

On a personal level, as well as broadening my knowledge and understanding of Japan’s, and the world’s, cultures, I hope to grow as a person in many ways. I believe developing one’s self is equally as important on exchange as developing academically. In particular, I hope to gain a true sense of independence, discover new things about myself, develop essential life skills such as maintaining a budget and increase my level of flexibility/adaptability to new situations. I believe by challenging myself to try new things, experiencing living away from home and meeting and forming friendships with new people, I will be able to achieve all of the above, as well as developing my level of self-confidence to higher levels than I thought could be possible by staying "safe" and living in Perth.

Perhaps the greatest challenge I anticipate for myself on exchange in Japan is learning and actually using the Japanese language in day to day life. I expect to receive an initial shock when I finally find out how my level of Japanese fares after years of study in regards to its usefulness in everyday life, however I believe once I get over this shock it will open new doors to what I hope will be a faster pace of development for my ability in the language – as the best place for learning Japanese can’t possibly be anywhere else but Japan! Another challenge I anticipate for myself is not falling into the mindset of doing everyday things the "Australian way", however by keeping an open mind about things I believe I should be able to surpass this challenge with ease.

At the conclusion of my exchange experience, I not only look forward to being able to put such event as a significant point on my resume’, but also being able to draw upon such real-world experience in any future career I choose to pursue. I believe future employers will look upon my exchange experience positively in terms of considering me for a position, as it will demonstrate my ability to be innovative and adaptable, which are two important qualities to have in our increasingly global society. Nonetheless, I believe having exchange experience will be a significant differentiator for myself amongst the thousands of University graduates who could possibly be looking for employment at the same time as me. In addition to this, I believe possessing a level of fluency in the Japanese language will make me attractive to employers who do business with Australia’s largest trading partner, Japan.

In conclusion, I look forward to the opportunity of immersing myself in a new culture and discovering the characteristics that make us different, and the characteristics that make us the same around the world. I look forward to representing Australia and UWA in a positive manner, and at the same time bettering myself academically, personally and professionally.

Thank you for taking the time to review my application, and I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Brown