Summer is fast approaching here in Australia, and here in Western Australia the daytime is already becoming quite hot…a far cry from the freezing mornings that we had to endure going to 9am classes at UWA and the random rainy days during Spring this year. But who cares about the weather right now (ok, I do a little bit *sweats* ), I have just been accepted by Kansai Gaidai for the Spring semester of 2011!! Open-mouthed smile

Dear Michael:

We are happy to inform you that you have been officially admitted to the Asian Studies Program at Kansai Gaidai University for the spring semester of 2011. All the faculty and staff members of the Asian Studies Program join me in extending a warm welcome to you…

- Kansai Gaidai University

The applications, both the physical documents and online forms, were due at Kansai Gaidai on the 1st of November, so I expected to receive a reply from them in late November at the very earliest. Actually, I did receive an *urgent* notice from them about a week before the deadline stating that they still hadn’t received my documents in the mail, which was a little worrying. But thankfully they did get there in time! UWA sends all the student applications to host Universities off at the same time (I believe in one package), so I guess they couldn’t send mine until they had everyone else’s ready to go. If anyone from UWA’s study abroad office reads this, I swear I never doubted you for even a moment Smile *hides* haha. 

So on the 2nd of November, it was really only by chance that I checked my student e-mail in the evening; I had a few minutes to spare before Home and Away (TV Show), and my e-mail client was open on my computer, so I thought what the heck…and there it was, just sitting there…silently, waiting for me to read it. With that said, yes I would have liked it if my PC played a celebration song of some sort as soon as the message was received! Smile with tongue out I didn’t even pause before opening it (ok, I may have for a few milliseconds); because it was so unexpected, I just wanted to know what it had to say! Seeing the word ‘happy’ in the first sentence helped to quell any of the fears or doubts I had emerging in the back of my mind. How could they possibly reject someone after saying ‘We are happy to inform you’!? Open-mouthed smile Unless they were leading up to… ‘happy to inform you that you wont have to save money any longer for next year, because you aren’t coming to Japan…at least not if we have anything to do with it!’ Surprised smile Fortunately, the statement in my e-mail ended with something a little more positive, as you can see! I know, I know… I have been assuming all along that I would be going to Japan next year…because how else could I put so much effort into writing this blog if I believed I was going to fail with my application in the end? Smile with tongue out 

But, like all students going through this process, in the back of my mind there was always a little ‘what if?’ hiding out amongst all the optimism somewhere. I actually imagined myself laughing if I actually got rejected, because I would have really ‘jumped the gun’ with the blog and YouTube account Surprised smile. Ok, even if I have been accepted, I still did ‘jump the gun’ a little, but at least I can say the risk has paid off, because…I WILL BE IN JAPAN NEXT YEAR! Open-mouthed smile 

I hope the amount of emoticons included in this post helps to convey my excitement…because I’m not sure if my YouTube video above does Confused smile haha. I never knew how awkward it was going to be to actually film myself, alone, talking to a camera, so if I look embarrassed and speak quietly/mumble at times, that is probably why! Plus, I didn’t want to reduce the authenticity of the video by trying to film it again on another day, so I had to work with what I had at the time! Ah well, I hope to ‘grow’ as a person on exchange, so hopefully my vlogging skills can grow and get better along the way, too! Smile

Although I have been accepted by Kansai Gaidai, as a congratulatory measure they provide students with even more forms to fill out. But hey, I am in no way complaining; for the first time the light can be seen flickering at the end of the student-exchange-application tunnel, which at times can seem like it will never end. With that said, now that I have been accepted, I have to face the reality that exchange is just around the corner. I mean, it is still over two months away, but once exams are over and done with in two weeks time, there wont really be anything between me and Japan besides holidays. Nothing to preoccupy my mind and distract me from the fact that I will be spending half of 2011 abroad. Every day that goes by over the Summer holidays will mean I am a day closer to driving to Perth International Airport, boarding a plane, and beginning my semester of exchange at Kansai Gaidai. Who knows what adventures await me in the ‘Land of The Rising Sun’, and who knows if I will ever be able to accurately pick up, let alone eat, food with two sticks known as (o)hashi…but whatever the case turns out to be, I know the first half of 2011 is going to be an unforgettable experience; full of fun, exciting and probably odd times that I will probably annoy my friends in Western Australia with for the second half of the year by constantly retelling (sorry!). There will probably be some not so fun times too; I may wake up one morning and think ‘what the hell am I doing here?’… but I guess that is part of the student exchange experience; it is how you deal with these experiences that counts, and I am genuinely interested in finding out how I will both react and cope.

Nonetheless, there are definitely some interesting times ahead. How much can a person grow in six months? Will 6 months be long enough to see and do everything that student exchange in Japan has to offer? Will I regret giving up the JASSO scholarship? And how much will my Japanese improve? So many questions that can only be answered with time, and only after I touch down in Japan in late January. Until then I can only speculate, and look forward to what will undoubtedly become one of the most memorable times of my life.
Japan…Kansai Gaidai…see you in 2011!