Japan & Me

Karolinka Dawidziak-Pacek

Occupation: Student at Adelaide University
Age: 20

Tell us about a place you like in Japan

My favourite place in Japan is Kyoto. I love all the temples and shrines, as well as the peaceful aura that floats over most of the city. It is in direct contrast to Tokyo, which is always busy. I think living in Kyoto is better than living in Tokyo, because it's more peaceful and serene.

What did you do when you were in Japan

Last year I lived in Japan for a month, and during that time I studied Japanese at Ritsumeikan University. It was an amazing experience that I'll never forget - not only did I have the opportunity to improve my Japanese, I was also able to experience some unique cultural activities through the university, such as traditional Kyoto-style cooking, pottery-making, kimono wearing, Kyo-yuzen dyeing and taiko drumming, to name but a few. We were also able to meet and play games with maiko (apprentice geisha) and geiko (geisha), which was the highlight of the trip for me as I find them very interesting.
This year I went to Japan for a two week holiday. While in Kyoto I attended the Gion Matsuri (festival), which was spectacular. The amount of detail put into the festival was amazing. Yoiyama (the night before the Gion Matsuri) in particular was a very memorable night - the festival atmosphere was contagious!

What interests you about Japan

Japan has interested me from a young age - I love the respectful culture and the natural beauty of the country. The language also fascinates me.

How is life in Japan different to life in Adelaide

Public transport in Japan is so amazing! All the buses and trains are always on time, and you can set your watch by the Shinkansen (bullet train) arrival times. It simply can't be compared to the Adelaide Metro system.
Furthermore, the customer service in Japan is impeccable. Wherever you are, you are treated as an honoured guest, and always leave a store with a smile on your face. Special care is taken to ensure you get the best customer experience possible. On rainy days, staff at Tokyo's Takashimaya department store pack your bag in a little plastic sheet to make sure it doesn't get wet. Such little things really enhance Japan's outstanding customer service reputation.

How does Japan influence your life at present

At present I am studying Japanese at the University of Adelaide. In my spare time, I like to watch Japanese dramas and listen to Japanese music. I try to listen to a bit of news or read something in Japanese every day so that my language ability will slowly improve over time.

Tell us something memorable about your time in Japan.

One of the most memorable times was watching the maiko and geiko dance at Ritsumeikan University. They were such graceful and beautiful dancers. I have always been interested in them, and it was amazing to be able to ask questions about their lives, and to get an insight into their work.

Karolinka is currently in her third year of a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts double degree at the University of Adelaide (majoring in Japanese and Creative Writing). She wants to become a writer in the future, and hopes to live in Japan.

Edited: August 2014