from 2008

Found an article I wrote for my school newsletter while Googling my name.

(As you do.)

I've written before about how exchange led to dreams of being a translator, eventually abandoned. By that time, I had enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts. That, in turn, led to Canberra.

I had no idea what a life-changing experience those two weeks would be. 

(We never do.)

Keeping an open mind and being flexible.

I need to remember that.

Japan Trip (From Shu-Ling Chua in 2008 Japan Trip) Q1. Did the image of "JAPAN" change after the trip? Most people think that Japan is either extremely traditional or extremely modern. However, I thought life in Japan wasn’t too different to life in Australia. For example I expected to traditional Japanese breakfasts, but actually ended up eating bread and teriyaki chicken burgers. The fancy toilets and vending machines are really cool at first, but you quickly get used to them. Although I slept on a futon, my host family’s house was quite like my own, just much smaller. Everything in Japan is so cute! Costs are actually quite reasonable and not as expensive as I thought they’d be. I found Japanese people to be welcoming and very friendly. Although some are naturally shy, the stereotype about all Japanese people being reserved is not true. I think the most important advice I can give about going on exchange is to keep an open mind and be flexible. You have to be mentally prepared for if things don’t go the way you planned. Q2. What was the most interesting or boring thing? For me going to Japan was a dream come true. Finally visiting places (Golden Pavilion or A-Bomb Dome) and experiencing Japanese culture (sushi restaurant) I had only read about in books was one of the best things about going on exchange. I think Japan was even better than I expected in many ways and I enjoyed my time there thoroughly. Going on exchange to Japan is something I will never regret! I really enjoyed making new friends and trying new foods while in Japan. The 100 yen shops are wonderful. But going cherry blossom-viewing with my host family and exploring Miyajima on bike were definitely the highlights of my trip. I miss my host family and Japanese food so much! It’s difficult to find things boring when you’re living in a different country. Every experience is new and exciting. I thought waiting in line for the rides at USJ was a bit boring, but they were worth it. Q3. What did you gain through the trip? Going on exchange was a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience. Learning about a different culture is interesting and teaches you the importance of tolerance and communication. It makes you realise that Japanese is more than just learning grammar and vocabulary. But most importantly, I think living in Japan allowed me to develop more independence and self-confidence. I was much more willing to try new things and I’ve started to appreciate my family more. Although my host family treated me as if I were one of their own daughters, I still had to learn how to live outside my comfort zone. I also had to learn how to budget! Q4. What advice would you give to the future exchange students in terms of language development? I think living in Japan, even for only 2 weeks, was very helpful to my Japanese because you’re completely surrounded by the language. After a while, I thought Japanese started to become almost semi-natural to me (like I was in some sort of ‘Japanese mode’). It’s important to try to speak in as much Japanese as possible. Don’t be shy or afraid to mix around with Japanese people. Everyone makes mistakes and you’re there to learn. Make the most of the opportunity to practise your Japanese! Having a little dictionary is useful and you’ll be surprised with how little/much Japanese you actually know. It’s important to be patient and keep your sentences easy to understand. Q4. How would you sum up your trip? Unforgettable!!


  1. Very interesting!! Hope you will visit Japan and we'll meet again! I'll keep an open mind and be flexible too:) Thank you for your inspiring blog!! Missing you a lot!
    Lots of love from Tokyo,

    1. Thanks M.Y. for your sweet message and hope we meet again soon! I like feeling a sense of control so I sometimes forget my own advice.
      Lots of love and miss you too, SL xo


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