|The Shibuya District in Tokyo|
As 2012 comes to a close I've been reflecting on what an amazing year I've had through my global experiences at Deakin. You may remember earlier in the year I travelled to Exeter in South West England for a semester abroad and blogged about some of the challenges and discoveries I made.
I'm still reaping the benefits nearly six months after coming home to Melbourne. Whilst abroad, I wrote and produced new work, made new friends across the globe (who I regularly Skype now), drank espresso in Venice and had creme brulee in Paris. In October I produced a show for the Melbourne Fringe Festival which was a direct influence from the exchange project and 2013 is already looking productive with new projects inspired from my time away.
Of course, a semester abroad is a big commitment and sometimes financial, personal or time contraints may impact on a student's ability to pack up and move away for such a long amount of time.
So another option that's worth considering is an International Study Tour. I've been lucky to have just returned from two and a half weeks in Japan on a Graphic Design, Animation and Video Games study tour, which is facilitated through the Faculty of Arts and Education.
As a professional and creative writing major, I was not sure that I was even eligible however after checking the unit handbook I saw that any arts student could apply - And so I did, attended a brief interview, crossed my fingers and toes and got confirmation in September.
In mid November I boarded a plane for Tokyo with 17 other students and spent the next 14 days running on pure adrenaline. Japan is like nothing I've ever experienced and I daresay perhaps the best place I've travelled to.
The benefits of a structured academic study program meant that we were up and out the door every morning to see, taste and experience as much as possible. This included tours of the Studio Ghibli Museum, Marza Animation Studio and the 21-21 Gallery in Tokyo, the Manga Museum and Nishiki market in Kyoto and of course ancient temples and gardens in all three cities.
All up we visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Nara and spent a decent amount of time in each city. Culturally, Japan was so different: food is ordered via touch screens, it's taboo to talk or eat on the subways and its also the cleanest place I've ever been to as well.
What was extremely exciting was the opportunities to spend time with the local Japanese students. We were welcomed to several different universities whom Deakin is building strong relationships with. At Ryukoko University in Kyoto we met lively students who were working on their English and were keen to learn about Australia and our culture. It was interesting to observe the cultural similarites and differences and they showed us around the city on our free day.
Deakin and KUAD Students from the Animation Workshops
At the Kyoto University of Art and Design (KUAD) we participated in a two day, 2D cell animation workshop, whereby we conceptualised character artwork and then proceeded to animate them the following day. I think we were all challenged by the language barrier and the work itself and so had to be creative in our problem solving and finding ways to communicate with these students, who were much more quiet and shy.
All of these experiences are so unique I think I will remember and draw on them for a very long time.
Japanese Maple in Kyoto
We landed in Melbourne on December 1st exhausted but content, yet the work does not stop here. One of the best things about the trip is that we all now have to produce creative projects which are informed by our time in Japan.
We held a presentation evening in Kyoto where everyone's ideas were discussed, which were specific to our craft; animation, to wood carvings to plush toy design, I reckon the results are going to be really interesting and will be on display in a special exhibition at the Phoenix Gallery in March next year.
I hope this gives you guys some insight into the trip, and I highly recommend going into the Study Abroad Office ASAP and investigate if you can have some global experiences of your own, whether it be an exchange program or a shorter intensive study tour!