Round Square Exchange Program by Scottie Booth

Thursday, 07 Dec 2023

Hi my name is Scottie Booth and I have been so lucky to have an opportunity to participate in the Round Square exchange program.

After submitting my application to the program and being selected as one of the students to represent BDC as an exchange student, I then researched different countries with which I would love to live in for the 6 week period. Thanks to the Round Square program I was matched up with a student in Japan who had chosen Australia as her chosen country.

While I had visited Japan with my family before, I thought that it would be a wonderful experience to actually live there and attend a Japanese school and be involved in their day-to-day routine and culture.

At the end of August both Liam and I flew to Japan, we attended the same school, Keimei Gakuen. We had a couple of days to settle in before school started and it gave me a chance to connect with my host family and host sister Maya.

It took me a little while to adjust to the school routine and schedule. I had to travel an hour via 2 trains and a bus just to get to school and then after school do the return trip back home. This made for a long day as we were out the door by 7.30am and some days school didn't finish until 6.30pm and we also attended school for half a day on Saturdays but with the traveling our half a day meant that we didn't arrive home until about 2.30pm. Keimei Gakuen school was so warm and inviting to both Liam and me. While we attended the same school he was with the Year 11 group and I was in the Year 10 group. Most of the students could speak some or a lot of English. Many of the students had an English-speaking parent. All of the classes were spoken in Japanese and I found this a bit hard, however, I had my own school work and participated in the class group as much as I could and I have to say my Japanese has improved greatly!

While I was part of Keimei Gakuen school a new English teacher from Tasmania started at the school. They asked me if I would like to spend a day with him teaching English to the primary students, which I enjoyed doing. Liam and I also got to participate in a traditional tea ceremony.

On my days off from school my beautiful host family made sure that I had as many opportunities to experience their life in Japan. I spent 2 days working in a nearby rice field, visiting many temples including Zen temple when we participated in a Zen meditation session and wrote Japanese prayers to leave at the temple to bless others. My family took me white water rafting and Maya and I would catch the train into Tokyo. We went to Shibuya crossing, and got to enjoy the incredible views from above.

I would highly recommend an exchange experience for anyone interested, this program reminded me of the different ways that people live and go about the day, it reopened my love for Japan, travel and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. My parents and friends where overly supportive during my stay making sure I am all set with knowing what was going on back home.

Scottie Booth