Beatrice King learns art of visual storytelling in Japan

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Beatrice King has always been enthralled by visual storytelling, which led her to undertake a Bachelor of Visual Communication Design and Diploma of Languages at the University of Newcastle.

“My degree has shown me how to translate intangible personal experiences into art forms that can be better understood by others. The New Colombo Plan (NCP) is teaching me how refine my story telling.

The 2021 NCP Scholar chose Japan as her host location given her Japanese language major.

“In high school, I made a close Japanese friend who came to Australia to study. I then got to visit their hometown on a short trip to Japan and it really sparked my interest. It’s also a country regarded as a leader in design and is very relevant for what I want to achieve in the future.”

So far on her journey, Japan has afforded Beatrice countless amazing experiences.

“Coming to Japan in the spring, I had the chance to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom lining all the streets, including the pathway to my dorm.”

Beatrice also had the chance to reflect on her love of design when she visited an interactive gallery in Tokyo.

Beatrice on her visit to teamLab Borderless, an interactive gallery in Tokyo

Beatrice on her visit to teamLab Borderless, an interactive gallery in Tokyo. Photo credit: Beatrice King

“Japan has a cultural heritage tied to tradition and storytelling. This continues to manifest itself through digital innovation today. I am hoping to complete an internship at the teamLab Borderless gallery. Seeing the way technology and storytelling can combine to create such an incredible digital landscape makes me all the keener to undertake an internship component.”

Beatrice has also had the opportunity to develop new friendships and connect with a variety of people.

“After finishing my final exams for the first semester, one of my close friends invited me to visit her hometown to celebrate. Her mum and grandma helped us get dressed in yukata – a type of kimono worn in summer – and we took photos with sparklers. It was one of the best memories I’ve made here, and it was so fun to just be with everyone and relax after working so hard all semester.”

Beatrice and friends dressed in yukata celebrating the end of exams

Beatrice and friends dressed in yukata celebrating the end of exams. Photo credit: Beatrice King

Although her time has been filled with memorable moments, Beatrice had to adapt to changes in her education.

“The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make has been getting used to the class schedule here. Every day my classes are from nine until one, and homework is assigned every night with our teachers checking we have completed it in class the next morning. We also are tested every second day, leading up to presentations and bigger exams.”

The workload is a shift from the independently focused learning system utilised at her home university.

“The change was a bit hard to understand at first since I was coming from such a different environment. However, it’s evident how invested the teachers are in seeing us succeed. This has meant my Japanese language skills have improved dramatically in a short length of time.”

Cherry blossoms outside of Beatrice's dorm

Cherry blossoms outside of Beatrice’s dorm. Photo credit: Beatrice King

The advancement of Beatrice’s language skills has given her greater confidence while living in Japan.

“It has been amazing to feel the communication barrier disappear. I can now walk into any situation here and know that I can handle it. The next step for me is learning more about communicating in a business environment ahead of my internship.”

Beatrice urges other NCP Scholars to stay mindful of their goals when in their host location.

“Have confidence in yourself and never forget the goals that you are working towards on your program. In my first four months of being here I’ve had so many amazing experiences, but I’ve also had times where I’ve felt a bit homesick. Knowing why I’m here and how much of an amazing experience I have waiting for me makes it all worth it.”

Beatrice is looking forward to continuing to improve her language skills.

“I plan to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test at the end of the year. Once I have completed that, there is no limit to what I can achieve here. I’m really only just getting started.”

Beatrice encourages anyone considering the NCP to take the leap.

“This has been the most rewarding experience that I have ever been a part of! If you are a scholar about to leave, bring lots of Australian souvenirs with you. Give them to all the new people you will meet. Personally, I recommend clip-on Koalas!”

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