Japan Tour 2007 02911111 …yet :) I know, I know. The title of my blog is a little, maybe even just a tad optimistic. And this whole plan of mine may just collapse before my eyes by my next blog post. But rather than stressing about the process leading up to exchange, I am going to take on the mindset that I will be going to Japan next year – even if my application for exchange gets rejected and I have to just turn up to a Japanese University anyway and claim the admin staff lost my paperwork (hopefully my Japanese will be good enough to lie perfectly by that stage…). Wow, it just hit me how early on I actually am into this whole process…but nonetheless, any amount of positivity can only lead to good things, right? And plus, this guy has already taken the best title I came up with: road2japan.com . In his defence, I thought of it after reading his blog.

So why am I applying for exchange to Japan, and why am I blogging about it? Firstly, I have been studying the Japanese language since year 8 of High School, and since then I have been on a short exchange to Japan (2 weeks, year 11 of High School), made many Japanese friends and links with a number of Japanese families, and have become interested in many other aspects of Japan such as its technological outputs, products of its popular culture such as music, dramas and movies, current affairs within the nation and its rapidly changing culture in reaction to globalisation.  With that said, I feel as if doing a semester of exchange in the country is almost a natural progression for me, as it will throw me right into the midst of the country where I will be able foster my interests first hand, hopefully rapidly develop my Japanese language ability, and reconnect with friends/families while also, of course, establishing new relationships too along way. Besides my interest in Japan, I find the great challenges surrounding exchange very appealing – living in a completely different environment, away from friends & family, speaking a different language… How will I react to these challenges? I like to think, now, that I will be quite comfortable with the changes – but then again, I am thinking this way whilst comfortably living my normal life. Will I react positively to everything? Or will my blog turn into a depressing monologue that only worsens over time? If the latter happens, I give permission for someone to come over here…well, there… and um, sort me out.  Actually, for future reference, I promise myself now that I wont let that happen. :)

I have decided to blog about my experience before, during and after exchange because it was other exchange student’s blogs about their own experiences abroad that essentially convinced me to apply. Reading about other people’s experiences really settled a lot of the “what ifs” that I had swirling around in my mind, and convinced me that I have what it takes to go ahead and actually do it – because really, the people writing those blogs are just average students like myself. Even the bad experiences I have read about on people’s blogs gave me more reasons to want to give the whole thing a go, because it really makes you wonder ‘What would I do if I was in THAT situation…would I react differently?’ In the end, I hope that not only do people I know get to read about my exchange experience, but also that people I don’t know, even people around the world, that are in two minds about applying for exchange get inspired like I did to actually take the plunge and decide to apply. Life is too short to think ‘what if?’ in 30 years time.

So where am I at now? Last Thursday I finished and submitted my application for Student Exchange through my University’s (University of Western Australia) online application system known as HERMES, which is the longest, most tedious application I have ever completed. At some points it seemed never ending, and in the end my entire application was over 9000 words. But whilst at times it did seem on par to mental torture, I believe it does force people to think long and hard about whether they actually want to go through with it, which can only be a good thing right? I will speak more about the application process in later posts, and will put up as much of my own application as possible to give others an idea about how they may want to go about doing their own.  Until then, I will be finetuning the layout of this blog, and hopefully will also find some time to study for the rest of my exams next week!

- Michael/マイケル