Exchange Ambassador - Mathew T.

Mathew T.

Destination: International Christian University, Japan 

Duration: 2 Semesters 

Program: English Literature 

Highschool: St. Anne's Catholic High School, Belle River 

What is one word that you would use to describe your exchange experience?  Amazing (or in Japanese, すばらしい) 


What languages do you speak?  

I speak English and had a crash-course in Japanese when landing in Japan. In Tokyo, you're much more likely to find people who can speak basic English, but outside of cities, these individuals are few and far in between. 


What was the worst thing that happened to you while on exchange? How did you deal with it?  

On my flight to Japan, I was late to get to the airport and was nearly denied getting onto the airplane. What ended up happening was that I had to fly ahead of my bags, which were sent separately. My advice would be to definitely bring spare clothing for at least two or three days if something happens to your bag.  And of course, be sure to show up early for flights, even if it is a domestic flight from Windsor to Toronto! 


What was the biggest cultural shock that you experienced?  

Friends go to the public bath together. It is quite weird to westerners to see their friends completely naked, but I suppose to Japanese people, this is quite normal. Although it is nice to relax and have a conversational partner, I can't say it is something that I ever got used to. 


What is something that you know now, that you wish you knew before you left for exchange?  

How busy you get, often times, I felt spread very thin. Although you do get used to it, you need to accept that you can't do everything or be at all places all the time. Be aware that studies are also a part of your exchange and try not to neglect them! 


If you were to recommend exchange to your best friend, what would you say?  

Everyone should go on exchange. It opens your eyes to cultural differences, you get to make tons of friends, and experience things you wouldn't experience at your home university. As well, you can become almost like an ambassador for your university, hometown, and even Canada. When people from other countries meet you, one of the first things you get asked is, "where are you from?" and from that moment on, you become the embodiment of Canada.  


Is there anything else that you would like to share? 

The misconception of Japan is that it is extremely expensive and that you cannot go on exchange without living beyond your means. If you shop like a local, and are smart about your funds like a local, there's no reason that you should feel financially pressured. 


A sample of the classes taken: 

  • Modern Japanese Literature in English Translation (credit for ENGL 2310) 
  • Shakespeare II (got credit for ENGL 3289) 
  • Community Service in Japanese Society (credit for INCS 2220)