Reflections: Rena

Hello! It’s me again. And this is going to be the last time you’ll see my name on this website because it’s time to for me to conclude my experience as an exchange student in Japan.


Being on exchange:

Honestly, the first month of being in Japan was such a blur to me, a blur of firsts, homesickness and adjustments that had to be made.

I didn’t realise how much age or being 20 meant in Japan.  Since I was still 19, I had to wait for a month to buy a long term sim card. During that waiting time, I had to buy those tourist sim cards for 4000 yen. Unlike most of everything in Japan, it was so not worth it.

In terms of workload, I think I managed pretty well during my stay. But this was probably because I was used to a heavy workload (I did high school in HK, and studied full time every semester at UoA). Honestly, the Japanese culture courses were super easy, there was pretty much no homework to do, and the topics were interesting.

If you are aiming to build a strong foundation in Japanese or hone your skills, I highly suggest going up a level. If you choose that route, you might have to sacrifice sightseeing/travelling time and that could be a bit of a bummer.

As for making friends, I didn’t have a hard time doing that. Everyone was really respectful and positive. If you do want to make friends outside of uni there’s quite a lot of get- together events promoted on Facebook.

I also suggest reading the monthly tourist magazine if you have one in your prefecture because lots of interesting events pop up every now and then. The magazines I subscribed to had discounts that I made good use of.


Things to buy before your trip (aka things I wish I bought before coming to Japan):

Pillow: The pillows in Japan have tiny balls/beans inside of them. Unless you like those kinds of pillows, I suggest bringing your own or buying one. I didn’t realise this until my first night in the dorm so I bought a pillow from Muji the next day (I think it was around 1000 yen)

Good quality shoes: You’re gonna be walking heaps during your first week on exchange. Not just that, but shoes in Japan tend to run a bit smaller. It would be good to invest in some good quality shoes before your trip.

Honey: Honey is preeeety expensive in Japan and comes in really small jars. If you’re not allowed to bring honey on the plane, then I suggest spending your last few days in NZ savouring the sweet creaminess.

Supplements/Vitamins: This is geared towards the Japanese newbies. Obviously, packaging is going to be written in Japanese so if you include supplements/vitamins in your diet you should bring it with you in the plane.

Souvenirs: You’ll never know when you’ll need them. I did a presentation on Kiwi snacks and I lowkey wished I had a bottle of L&P with me so I could share with the class. Souvenirs don’t have to be fancy; they just have to be a token of your home country.

And that’s all from me!

If you have any further questions about Fukuoka or Japan don’t hesitate to contact me on Facebook (Rena Chua) or email:

Best of luck for your exchange!


Adobe Spark (13)

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