Sheffield is consistently voted the best student union in the country so it felt like the obvious choice

SEAS student Julian Bentham
Julian Bentham
Undergraduate student
Japanese Studies BA
Julian relished the challenge of learning a new language for the first time, and is keen to tackle another one after graduation.

What attracted you to the University of Sheffield?

I wanted to go to a university in which I felt I would be happy. Given that the University of Sheffield is consistently voted the best student union in the country, is located in one of the safest major cities, and has a reputation for being full of friendly people, it felt like the obvious choice. I’m glad to say it has not fallen short of my expectations.

What do you enjoy most about your course?

I really enjoy the sense of gradual progression that comes with learning a language; the feeling of spending months thinking you aren’t getting any better, only to look back and realise how much you have grown.


The year abroad really helped with my confidence in using Japanese. It took about six months, but after going travelling during the spring break, I really began to feel comfortable with the language.

Julian Bentham

Japanese Studies BA


How have you found learning a new language?

This is my first time studying a language in any depth, so it has been fairly challenging, but I have learnt a great deal as a result. Having now developed a better understanding of language acquisition, I am looking forward to tackling another language after graduation.

What is Sheffield like to live in? Do you like the city?

I very much enjoy living in Sheffield. Almost everywhere is within walking distance, and the atmosphere is a lot friendlier than in London, where I’m originally from. The number of green spaces is also very pleasant (not to mention being so close to the Peak District). Even as I write this, if I look up I have a view from the library of a group of ducks waddling around the willow tree in Weston Park.

What are your ambitions for the future?

After graduation I intend to spend some time in Japan in order to make further use of my degree, before returning to Sheffield to study a Masters in Psychology and Education. I would also like to teach Sheffield’s improvised comedy society for a year, and based on how I feel about that and the Masters, will choose my career path accordingly.

Do you have any advice for students thinking about doing Japanese Studies at Sheffield?

It is worth knowing now that the course is no walk in the park, but if you are able to study a little bit every day (and I mean every day), make good use of Anki, listen to several hours of Japanese daily, and perhaps read Stephen Krashen’s work on language acquisition, learning Japanese will be an absolute joy.


About your year abroad

How different is the teaching and course structure in Japan compared to at Sheffield?

I can’t speak for all universities in Japan, but at Osaka University we had a great deal of flexibility in terms of class options. There were various types of classes, ranging from fairly normal areas of study such as kanji and grammar, to far more niche and unusual topics like Japanese comedy and pitch accent studies.

The teaching styles also varied widely, from serious and straight-laced to wacky and fun-loving. Add to this the fact that classes were split into different degrees of difficulty, and you have a program which can be massively personalised to suit your own goals and interests.

How would you describe student life at your host university?

I lived in an international dorm, on a campus predominantly for foreign students and Japanese people studying foreign languages. As a result it was a little more difficult than expected to make Japanese friends, but this also meant I was part of a wonderful international community, with people from all over the world.

I am still in touch with many of these people, as well as some of the teachers, who were incredibly supportive throughout my time at Osaka. The campus was a bit out in the sticks, but it was a very pleasant area, and we still made regular trips into central Osaka.

What skills do you feel you gained from doing the study abroad year?

The year abroad really helped with my confidence in using Japanese. It took about six months, but after going travelling during the spring break, I really began to feel comfortable with the language. I also developed greater confidence in travelling solo, living independently, and being in new and challenging environments.

What did you enjoy most about living and studying in Japan?

While living in Japan, I really enjoyed the fact that I could travel to almost any town or city and there would be something of interest. The food was also wonderful, as was the convenience and safety of the country.

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