Kavita Peterson - Japan
Kavita Peterson from Victoria talks about her international study experience in Japan.
Lots of people, when they start thinking about studying overseas, only consider traditional destinations like Canada, the USA or UK. However, the world is full of exciting and different destinations. Many of these ‘alternative’ destinations attract generous scholarships and other incentives to make it easier to go there and study.
Tell us a little bit about your overseas study experience?
I studied for a year in Ochanomizu Women's College in Tokyo, Japan as part of
my Arts degree majoring in Japanese and Linguistics. The highlights of my stay
was not so much the study, but the friendships I garnered and the amazing
freedom I had to travel and enjoy the finer things Japan had to offer, thanks to
the scholarship I was on.
What were the greatest challenges for you in studying overseas?
My first visit to Tokyo two years earlier had not been as welcoming as the other, quieter parts of Japan I had travelled to. While I experienced no initial culture shock, it was occasionally difficult for me to deal with big city life.
Bureaucracy is a big part of Japanese life, and this was also very daunting for me, particularly as I had to deal with it right after arriving in the country, and all the small print and jargon were in a language I was not fluent in!
How did you overcome these challenges?
When the city was too much for me, I made plans to travel. I kept myself preoccupied with things that I enjoyed doing.
The bureaucracy was also just a matter of pushing through, as it had to be done. I was fortunate enough to already have contacts in Japan, who helped me with things I was unsure about. The host university is also there to help students adapt.
Has your international study experience led you to new/different opportunities that you didn’t expect, like a new career direction or other travel?
Thanks to the layout of the school year and the remuneration from my scholarship, I had ample time to travel throughout Japan during the year. Apart from the many friendships and the wealth of knowledge I’ve been fortunate enough to foster through this, my summer trip to Hokkaido led to a pending job offer at a ski resort. I accepted and will be going back to Hokkaido for the Japanese ski season at the end of the year!
Why would you encourage other people to study overseas?
It’s such an amazingly unique experience to immerse yourself in another culture and meet other exchange students from different backgrounds who are facing the same challenges as you. I’ve expanded my international network in ways I didn’t think possible before and I’ve fostered some borderless friendships from my time abroad. I was able to truly experience Japan in a way that I don't think I shall ever experience to the same degree again.
Would you study overseas again?
If I had the opportunity again, I would love to study abroad again. There are so many benefits, regarding both employability and personal growth. Studying abroad has given me the confidence to travel more broadly and to experience life in all its many forms.
The Australian Government offers a number of generous scholarships for Australians to study around the world – see the Endeavour Awards section of this site. Most of these awards are issued through your Australian university, so check with your international office.