Interviewed by Hiroki from GoGo Adelaide
You can read this story in Japanese here
After graduating from junior high school in Japan, Ayako travelled alone to Adelaide to complete her secondary schooling as an international student. She chose Glenunga International High School herself and her high school life has been filled with a strong sense of achievement.
Ayako completed her secondary schooling enrolled in the South Australian Government Schools High School Graduate Program.
Path to Studying Abroad
Studying at a private integrated junior/senior high school in Japan, the thought of studying abroad had never crossed Ayako’s mind until she went to a study abroad expo with her elder sister, who was considering studying in Victoria. This brought an unexpected focus on studying abroad as an option for herself. Her sister had decided to study in Melbourne after graduating from senior high school in Japan, but not wanting to rely on her sister, Ayako explored the idea of studying in a different area. Filtering through her options she discovered Adelaide, which has a strong reputation amongst international high school students, and in her summer holidays of third year junior high she came with her family and took a look at a number of schools. From these she chose Glenunga International High School. “The students seemed mature and left a good impression on me. I also like that the school is relatively far from the city making it feel tranquil.”
A Fulfilling High School Life
In April 2012, Ayako finally started her new life as an international high school student enrolling in ISEC (International Secondary English Course), a preparatory course for international high school students. The majority of students spend two or three terms studying ISEC but Ayako finished after just one and began studying in a mainstream Year 10 class from July. “I was the only Japanese student in ISEC and looking back, I grew close to my teacher and my English greatly improved so it was very good for me.” Even though Ayako didn’t study any special English courses prior to coming to Adelaide she had a very smooth start to her new life as an international student.
In January 2013, Ayako progressed to Year 11. Glenunga International High School is the only public school in South Australia to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma
Program, and students get to choose between following the regular high school curriculum or the IB course. Ayako had never heard of the IB Diploma Program but she chose it
following her friends’ recommendations. Studying with local students was definitely not an easy thing to do but she says, “Speaking and studying in English is much harder than it is in Japanese for me. However, the feeling of fulfilment I get when I achieve results is just that much more because of it. The things I can do are also increasing more and more. Studying till late at night wasn’t that bad and I really enjoyed being able to take on many challenges.” Ayako stayed positive and made the most of her time as an international student.
In addition, the special programs offered through the IB course gave her the opportunity to actively take part in volunteer activities outside of school including Red Cross charity events and the Adelaide Japanese Community School. “I think it is great that in Australia everyone has fun together taking part in charities and different volunteer groups,” says Ayako, showing the level of fulfilment she gets from her Australian lifestyle both in and out of school.
Year 12 has been a hard final year for Ayako, studying until late every night, but this November she made it through and completed her final exams. “For now I just want to forget about studying and relax a bit. I want to spend lots of time hanging out with my friends!” Trying her hardest right through to the end has given Ayako both a sense of fulfilment and relief, but after graduating she is now aiming to enrol in an Australian or Canadian university and become an accountant. She has always liked math and Ayako says that since doing the IB course she has also enjoyed learning about economics. “I’ll return to Japan once I have become more proficient in English. Until then I want to go to university here and increase my potential.”
Ayako has the following message for other international students:
“Being an international student really does have its challenges, but they just make the sense of fulfilment even greater so I strongly recommend it. Meeting people from different countries and learning about their different ways of thinking is also fun and it widens your own field of vision. I think that at first there are things that you can’t do and you make many mistakes, but being honest with yourself and understanding that they are normal will help you to not get stressed. I hope that you stay positive and keep a bright attitude.”