Isabelle Bavetta, BSc Geography and Geology student at the University of Leeds

Isabelle Bavetta

Why did you want to study abroad?

I had always been interested in Japan and Japanese culture so when I saw that the University of Leeds was partnered with numerous Japanese universities including Osaka University I considered it an opportunity I couldn’t let pass me by. The opportunity to visit and learn more about the culture and country first hand was an amazing experience. 

How was it when you arrived in Japan?

I was supported through the application process by both the University of Leeds and Osaka University and arrived in Japan with no problems. Arriving at my international dormitory I was greeted by local Japanese students who helped us with moving in and showed us the best local spots for drinks and food. The first weeks before courses started were spent sightseeing and socialising with the many internationals in my accommodation, everyone I’ve met has been exceptionally friendly and helpful, meaning homesickness was kept to a minimum. 

What was your university like in Japan and what were some of the first experiences you went through?

The University of Osaka is located in the suburbs meaning there’s lots of space and greenery to enjoy, and is only a short way from the world famous expo park. The high quality of public transport here has meant I’ve been able to enjoy life in the city centre of Osaka, visiting sites such as Dotonbori and Osaka castle in the evenings after lectures as well as the more relaxed paced town in which my accommodation and campus is situated. The food I’ve been eating is some of the best (and cheapest) I’ve ever had; Osaka is known as the “food capital of Japan” for a reason and from sushi, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, ramen and curry I’ve yet to eat a meal which has left me disappointed or cost me more than £10!

What are you enjoying the most so far? Are you involved in interesting projects or extra curriculum activities?

The university is really welcoming to international students, with schemes and specific events for getting to know local students and to help you settle in. My modules are all really interesting and have allowed me to study subjects I’d never have dreamed of back home and to focus on international studies as well as the Japanese language. I also take part in the host family project run by the university where I spend time with a local family and they teach me to cook local food and take me out to great restaurants and sites. The university offers trips for international students such as trips to Hiroshima, including a talk by the only English speaking survivor of the war, as well as schemes such as the brother-sister programme which allows internationals and local students to hang out. 

What do you think you have got out of this experience so far?  What exciting activities are you planning to do during your year abroad?

Throughout the next year I have plans to travel around Japan, from Tokyo to Hiroshima and up to the northern island of Sapporo. The transport system here makes travelling easy and enjoyable and means I can experience more than just my local city and campus. In addition the many international students living in the shared accommodation mean you make friends with people from all four corners of  the world and I have plans to visit South Korea, Australia and many other countries with the friends I’ve made.

Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of studying abroad?

The only advice I can give if you’re considering a year abroad is go for it! The time I’ve spent here so far has been some of the best in my life and I’ve formed lifelong friends from all over the world. To be able to travel to a foreign country with a whole support network from two universities there to help you out is an opportunity you may well be never be offered again and one that will provide you with unforgettable adventures and lifelong friends.