Howdy People.

My name is Adam and this blog is primarily for posting updates about my exchange to Nagoya University of Foreign Studies in Japan; which starts in about a week. This blog will also have a separate page which will serve as a guide of sorts for any other students considering an exchange to Japan. While I suspect this will be read by primarily my friends and family who know me, potential exchange students and random internet people may well end up reading it and have no idea who I am or what I am about. As such, this post will kick the blog off by explaining a bit about who I am, where I am in life and how this exchange has been immensely important to me even before it has officially begun.

I am currently a third year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in Politics and Philosophy at Massey University (Palmerston North, New Zealand). I am very passionate about my areas of study and spend a great deal of time, including my spare time, studying them; usually by reading articles, watching formal debates and discussing interesting topics with anyone in my immediate surroundings. My general areas of focus are Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, Gender Politics, Middle Eastern Politics and International Politics; though I dip into Political Theory a bit as well. At the end of my degree I plan to apply for a number of graduate programs and should those applications fail study a Masters degree in Politics next year; with my thesis likely focusing on the Middle East, probably ISIS. My current career goal is to work in foreign affairs, but I am keeping an open mind about where I might end up; as I may find something that suits me better along the way.

When I first began contemplating my exchange I looked at the process primarily as a means to enhance my CV; after all it would be extremely difficult to get a job in foreign affairs with no overseas experience. I considered exchanging to the US but was put off by the cost, I then considered Australia as a cheaper alternative but wanted to go a little further outside my comport zone. After doing some more research I ended up settling on Japan; as it was a country I had an interest in, offered multiple scholarships to help with costs, was diplomatically important to New Zealand and was entirely different than anything I had ever encountered.

As I began the application process for my exchange however, I identified a pretty sizable problem; at my current weight I was going to have to pay for two seats on the flights. It was at this point I set two main goals to achieve before I left for Japan: Maintain at least a B+ average, to gain entry to the Masters and exchange programs, and reach 160kg; down from 217.8kg at the time. A year later the process of pursuing my exchange has literally changed my life. I now weigh in at 148.8kg (which is a loss of 69kg) and have managed to achieve an A-/A average; removing the need for a second seat on my flight and easily surpassing the threshold for both programs. On top of this, I also managed to receive three scholarships: The Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia, The [Massey] Social Science and Humanities Study Award and JASSO; effectively paying for all the costs associated with my exchange and enhancing my CV. I even managed to get my name in the local paper: http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/64890034/Big-guy-chosen-for-PMs-Asia-scholarship.

But while I do enjoy looking back over the last year and patting myself on the back, I received a lot of support; from my friends and family with my weight loss and study; as well as support from Massey and the PMSA staff in planning and financing my exchange. I am planning on posting my main posts about my experiences in Japan on this page; along with photos and videos of my day to day goings on. If you are curious about exchanges or just want some general advice regarding exchanging to Japan; check the top bar for the “Exchange Student Guide” section of the blog. Also, if anyone has any questions feel free to leave them as comments on this post and I shall do my best to answer them.

Cheers everyone.

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