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Ethan embraces his NCP experience - studying physics at Nagoya University in Japan

Photo of Ethan on top of a snowy mountain.
Ethan climbing Mount Asahidake in Hokkaido, Japan. Credit: Ethan Dowley.

In April this year, Scholar Ethan Dowley embarked on his New Colombo Plan (NCP) journey in Japan. Japan first captivated Ethan on a family holiday, and his passion for the country and culture endured throughout a high school exchange program.

“I studied Japanese in high school and have always been interested in Japanese culture. I am currently studying physics, maths, and Japanese at the University of Western Australia. I heard about Nagoya University’s physics program, and I really wanted to improve my Japanese language skills. So, experiencing my NCP journey in Japan has been perfect for me.”

Having spent some time in Japan previously, Ethan thought he knew what to expect.

“Since I had been to Japan a few times, I knew the culture and already had some knowledge about visiting the location. I will say, though, that moving to Japan is quite a different experience to visiting as a tourist. For one, there is a lot of paperwork involved, most of which is entirely in Japanese. Grocery shopping was also surprisingly difficult the first few times. Luckily, it is cheap to eat out here in Japan, so there’s nothing wrong with doing that until you have figured out what things to buy.”

Ethan has already experienced many highlights since his journey started. Befriending and connecting with other international students in the same dormitory has been a highlight of his time in Japan.

“There is a large cohort of international students from all over the world here at Nagoya University! We meet regularly for activities such as dinner, drinks, karaoke, various social sports, shopping, sightseeing, etc. It’s a lot of fun, and a great excuse to be active and spend more time outdoors.”

Ethan also recognises the impact the NCP is having on his future. Attending Nagoya University has furthered his physics studies.

“Nagoya University has an extremely strong physics program (with multiple Nobel prize winners in its physics department), so it is a great place for an aspiring physicist to have connections with. In addition, the units I am studying here are more intensive and more advanced than the units I have been studying in Australia.”

The exchange experience as a part of NCP has also been extremely valuable for Ethan.

“The New Colombo Plan gave me the motivation to pursue this exchange despite the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the financial support means that I can focus on my education and the exchange experience without being worried about money. I have a very heavy workload, so it would be impossible for me to work a part time job while still studying effectively.”

Ethan has a few tips for those who may be considering embarking on an NCP journey.

“Start your visa application as soon as possible. Try to find out about daily life in your host country – for example, something a lot of people don’t realise when they first come to Japan is that a lot of places only accept cash, particularly outside the big cities. Even in Nagoya, one of the largest cities in Japan, I have to pay my rent in cash every month.”

Even for those who have been to their NCP host location prior, Ethan highlights the importance of a translation resource.

“You should get a translation app on your phone that is able to scan images and download the necessary languages so that you can use it offline. Outside of Tokyo, a lot of things are written in Japanese only, including all the legal documents you will have to fill out when you first move into the country. Of course, it is also useful to learn a few basic phrases in the local language, such as how to order food at a restaurant, or ask where the bathroom is.”

Ethan is looking forward to continuing his physics education at Nagoya University, being around his new friends, and exploring more of Japan.

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