Monash University Japanese studies students felt like they were transported to Japan when they were given the unique and valuable opportunity to meet and talk in Japanese with Monash College Consortium Program students from seven of Japan’s leading universities.
The ‘cultural exchange’ session involved groups of Australian and visiting Japanese students sharing photos and stories about their family, friends and daily lives. This personal interaction revealed that apart from their first language, the students were not too different after all. In fact, both groups of students had very similar views on the environment, learning, and respect for other cultures and values.
The session was part of Monash College’s Consortium Program; an annual flagship study group run by the Monash University English Language Centre (MUELC). The program brings students together from top universities in Japan for academic and cultural studies in Australia. The students develop their English language skills through an immersion experience of living and studying in Melbourne.
For Monash Japanese studies students the session was a highlight in their academic calendar. It gave these students an opportunity to practice comprehension, listening, speaking skills and more importantly expand their Japanese vocabulary with the ‘real experts’.
Monash University Japanese studies student Alistair Bayley commented, “It was great to be able to use casual Japanese in a practical sense as there isn’t much opportunity to do so otherwise. Being able to speak to native Japanese students was really enjoyable because they were our age and it was nice to relate to them’. For Alistair, who aspires towards a career in China or Japan, the cultural exchange experience was highly rewarding, bringing him a step closer to realising his ultimate goal.
Fellow Japanese studies student Luke Hus said the best part for him was “meeting students from different places in Japan and listening to different Japanese dialects”. However, Luke was not at all surprised to learn that Japanese students were reluctant to try Vegemite!
Japanese Consortium students gained a deeper appreciation of their Australian counterparts and the chance to experience Australian culture, through story telling and sharing of ideas. All agreed that it was a valuable experience that they would love to repeat.
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