The big reveal – my year abroad

A new road ahead

In the last couple of posts, I’ve mentioned a few times that I will be going abroad this September. I’ve been keeping it pretty quiet so far, but now I feel I am ready to finally reveal where I will be going, and what I will be doing.

Firstly, I get a lot of people asking me what I study. I’ve been reluctant to reveal this previously because I wanted Minimal Student to apply to everyone studying anything. I feel that I’ve accomplished this by not focussing on a particular subject, and by giving tips, tricks and hacks that anyone can incorporate into their lives as they wish.

But many of you have been so supportive of me that I no longer feel I have to hold back. So here it is, drumroll please…

what I study

I am currently studying Japanese and Management at the University of Leeds, UK.

The reason why I talk about happiness so much is probably because of my awesome degree. It gets me up in the morning to go to uni and I love every minute of it. I love learning the language, reaching new levels and finding out new things about myself, my own language and my country that I’ve previously taken for granted. I love being able to communicate with people from the other side of the world. I love sharing ideas, opinions and cultural views on universal subjects. And most of all, I love the challenge of taking on a completely foreign language and building it up completely from scratch.

Thus far, I’ve been holding back this piece of me because I know that not everybody would share a love for Japan as I do. I think it’s an absolutely fascinating country, and many things from Japan has manifested itself onto this blog, such as Zen Buddhism and what makes an  ideal minimalist diet.

year abroad

On September 6th 2010 I will be flying from London Heathrow to Kansai International Airport (with a stop in Rome).

I will spend the year studying at Konan University in Kobe, Japan.

Konan University, Kobe

In Japan, my academic year will run from September to May. After which, I plan to stay in Japan for a few more weeks before going travelling around Asia and Australia for 3 months.

I will most likely be meeting a friend from my home-town whilst I’m in Japan, then flying to all or some of these places:

  • other places in Japan
  • Soeul, South Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • Austrailia
  • New Zealand
  • Thailand
  • Taiwan
  • China
  • Vietnam

Given that it is a little while away, we haven’t solidified our plans yet but it will happen. I will have about 12-15 weeks to spend exploring Asia and hopefully having an amazing adventure.

minimalist travel

Even though I will be very busy (and have been for the last couple of weeks) preparing for my trip and sorting myself out after I arrive, Minimal Student will of course continue. I have no intention of stopping MS in the near future. It really helps me stay on track of my goals and the support that I get in the comments from you guys is so encouraging.

In lieu of much travelling to come, I’ve started a new category, ‘Travel’ which will group together posts mostly about minimalist packing, freedom and travel. I have a few posts in the pipeline which I will probably schedule to publish in the future.

So please don’t be alarmed if MS is off schedule every now and again, I will still be writing as much as I can, but there may be occasional Wednesdays and Sundays that I miss. Please understand that I love writing, and I will be doing the best I can. Hopefully once I settle down, everything will be back on track.

I will still be a student, and I will still be writing about minimalism, so even though there will be new subjects I will be able to talk about, Minimal Student will still be here, as always.

101 things in Japan

A once in a lifetime trip to Japan would be wasted if I didn’t blog about it, so I will! If anyone shares their love for Japan with me, please check out my new blog 101 things in Japan. It is a much more personal blog than MS – it’s more chatty, with a dash of humour and sarcasm. It’s a blog about a list of 101 things I want to accomplish whilst I’m in Japan, from sushi to sumo, from Harajuku to Hokkaido, almost anything worth doing in Japan. Somehow, I get the feeling I’m going to have a lot of fun trying to tick everything off.

Right now, I’m ready to start a new chapter. I’m really excited about all of the massive changes that will come into my life. I’m ready for my fresh start, for the highs and the lows and for all the things I’m going to discover about the world on my travels. Wish me luck!

and finally, thank you

Lastly, I just wanted to say thank you for everything so far. Please keep reading and please comment and share Minimal Student on Twitter, facebook, stumble upon, digg, reddit or anything else you can do would be a great help. MS costs me quite a lot of time and money to maintain, so if you could possibly help me out with a even just a teeny donation, I will be forever grateful.

So with that, I’ll see you very soon, or as the Japanese would say, またね!(matane!)

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  • I’ve added 101things to my RSS feed.

    Cripes you’re lucky. I want to go abroad so bad. I’m from the United States, which isn’t awful, but it’s not quite as varied as Europe or Asia. Sounds just fantastic.

    If I’m not dead after work I’ll click the donate button. I try and make sure to support the blogs I read in some fashion.

    • Jessica

      Hi Aberinkulas!

      Thank you again for your donation! I really am very grateful.


  • How awesome!
    Sakana.. erm.. that about exhausts my Japanese knowledge (my three housemates last year took it, so I can recognise 100 Kanji and a few Hiragana).
    The travelling you plan to do after sounds utterly amazing and I look forward to reading about it 🙂

    • Jessica

      Hey Rose!

      Mmm…sakana! Wow that is quite a lot of kanji! Thanks for following my journey, it makes it really worth sharing!


  • Chikitulfo

    That’s great!! I’m sure you’ll love it, specially if you like japanese culture.

    I will also spend next year abroad, a little nearer from my home though (from Spain to Germany). And I am really excited about it too!

    PS: There’s something that shocks me about Japan. While they have zen buddhism, I find their modern culture to be one of the most materialistic (mostly when it comes to gadgets and electronic stuff).
    Note that i’ve never been there so what I know of their culture is what i’ve learned from movies and documentaries, nothing first hand.

    • Jessica

      Hi Chikitulfo,

      Actually you’re totally right. Although I obviously can’t speak for every Japanese person, the prevailing social research shows that Japanese women are the biggest brand buyers in the world! Bags, clothes, shoes… the lot. Then there’s cars, TV’s and gadgets for the guys. It does kind of break my heart a little that many of them base their happiness on material possessions… but hey, maybe I can change some of that? 😉


  • Eli

    That is awesome! I hope you have a great year and that you accomplish everything you want to (and more!). I would like to visit Japan some day, although I don’t know much about it, and certainly wouldn’t understand a word, but I’ve always been fascinated by it’s culture. I seems so ancient, pure, disciplined and honorable.
    By all means, keep us posted! 🙂

    • Jessica

      Hi Eli,

      Thanks for the encouragement! I’ll let you know how it goes, and if you ever decide to visit, give me a bell and we can meet up 🙂


  • Enjoy your time in Japan, Jessica! I was excited to see green tea on your list of 101things — make sure you experience Matcha! Safe travels and best wishes.


    • Jessica

      Hi Nick,

      Thank you, and don’t worry, I will make sure I do! A trip to Japan wouldn’t be complete without a taste of matcha!


  • Bruno Koga

    Thats awesome! I lived in Japan for 30 months from 2004 to 2006 and all I can say is it was the most impressive experience I’ve ever had in my life.
    I hope you enjoy it!

    • Jessica

      Hey Bruno,

      Woah, 30 months?! You’re kidding, that’s ages! Perhaps *you can teach me a few things 😉 I’m glad you had so much fun even after staying for so long, it gives me hope!


  • Just fantastic, Jessica. Love the path you’re on.

    I’m newly minimalist, location-independent, and planning various trips overseas, so what you’re doing is really inspiring. Can’t wait to follow your journey!

  • Have a really fun time on your trip. You are going at the best time to travel and it should be an awesome learning experience + a lot of fun. Maybe take some pictures if you can and put them on the blog too!

    • Jessica

      Hey Reggie,

      Thank you for your comments. I’ll be sure to carry my camera around like a fifth limb and take a million photos to share with you guys. Hope you stay tuned to find out how I do!


      • I will definitely stay tuned!

  • Lindsay

    Exciting! I did a study abroad semester in the states nearly 10 years ago and it was a fantastic experience, have a fabulous time. (unfortunately now I’m a master’s student the course isn’t long enough to fit that in but I tried to implement the same techniques when I came down to London from the North) Minimalist study abroad is definitely the way to go. I still cringe remembering the HUGE suitcase I took through customs with half my life in it, and then trying to get it all back through customs just after 9/11. Not good!

    • Jessica

      Hello Lindsay!

      Yes, I could only *wish I could take a massive suitcase! But with all the restrictions nowadays (and my minimalist OCD tendencies 😉 ) it’s much harder to take more than about one suitcase anyway. Hopefully I’ll get a post about minimalist packing up soon!


  • :O Girl, I love Japan too! 私は日本が大好きです!I’m learning Japanese right now! I’m also totally Jellin about all of the awesome countries you’re visiting! Definitely going to check out that other blog. So. Jellin.

    • Jessica

      Hi Leslie, I’m so glad you found my blog! Wow, that is such a coincidence! すごいですね!

      I hope you enjoy 101 things in Japan!


  • How wonderful! I know that you will have a great experience.

    I’m American, and I did a summer foreign exchange program at Oxford University when I was in college. I had a wonderful experience and remember it fondly. I was an English major, so it was relevant to my degree in the way that studying in Japan will be relevant to yours.

    Looking forward to your observations as you study abroad and enjoy a new culture!