Piero Jaksa - Exchange Alumni Testimonial

Piero Jaksa completed his exchange at Osaka University in Semester 2 of 2023. Piero went on Exchange for his Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) (Honours) and Bachelor of Science (Physics).

While on Exchange, Piero had a number of opportunities to build networks and make limitless memories with the Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship.


Piero in front of snowy mountains in Mongolia (2023).

Piero in front of snowy mountains in Mongolia (2023).

What motivated you to participate in an Overseas Experience?

My initial motivation was languages. At school, I studied German, and after school I started learning Japanese. I wanted to go on Exchange to a country that didn’t speak English; that was my initial motivation. Specifically, Germany or Japan, of course.


Which Study Period did you go overseas in?

I went overseas on Exchange in Semester 2 of 2023. While languages intrigued me to study in Japan, I actually study Mechanical Engineering and Physics.


Why did you choose Osaka University?

I chose Osaka University, a little bit because of my situation, and a little bit because of the language. I was looking at the opportunities I had, and I saw the Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship! In Asia and the Indo-Pacific region there are many funding opportunities, with Westpac and the New Colombo Plan Scholarships.

Photo of Himeji Castle taken by Piero (2023)

Photo of Himeji Castle taken by Piero (2023).

I decided on Japan after seeing the Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship. Osaka University, in particular, because they were almost the only university I could go to considering how early in my program I was going on Exchange; I went in my second semester of my second year.

I also wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t Tokyo. Honestly, I’ve been to Tokyo before, and I thought Osaka had a cooler vibe (and it was excellent)! Additionally, Osaka University, being a state institution, an old imperial university, and a high rank, I picked them based off of those things too.


Selfie of Piero in the snowy mountains of Hokkaido (2023).

Selfie of Piero in the snowy mountains of Hokkaido (2023).

What was the highlight of your Exchange experience?

The overall highlight I would say was the Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship experience. You go to Sydney for the initial meeting, then to Singapore for a week, then your Exchange, and while you are on Exchange, you have all the funding from the scholarship too. You meet some fantastic people as well; everyone’s friendly, genuine, and excited about going on Exchange. The networking is amazing also, and I am still actively participating in it! The Westpac documents give glowing recommendations of the benefits of the scholarship too.

Another highlight was the opportunity to travel within Asia. I went to Mongolia for a week, South Korea for a day, Thailand, and Beijing. Having the flexibility and financial position to travel while you’re already in Asia is just fantastic. Especially when you’re in such a fortunate position, it would be silly to not make use of it. 
In summary, my two highlights are, the ability to travel in-country and internationally, as well as the people you meet!

What was your biggest takeaway from your experience?

Biggest takeaway would be to just say yes to things. If someone says to you, “do you want to rent a car next weekend, drive into the middle of the countryside, and stay in an onsen for a night?” Say “yes”! I gained an entirely new experience that I wouldn’t change for the world, and it was all because I said, “YES”.

It’s harder in Australia to do those things as you have so many obligations at home. But when you’re in another country for 6-months, you don’t have work/your job, your friends, your own obligations, etc. 

Photo of monkeys at Yamanochi Onsen in Nagano, taken by Piero (2023).

Photo of monkeys at Yamanochi Onsen in Nagano, taken by Piero (2023).

What is something you wish you knew before going overseas?

It can be difficult at times with their financial system. I planned for it, but I could have planned more for how their financial system is. It is so cash-based, you need to have some way of withdrawing cash. You even pay for your rent in cash! That would’ve been great to know beforehand.
Other than that, I went into it not knowing much about what to expect! But, you sort of just figure it out! Besides that, I don’t think there was anything else I wish I knew before going overseas. If you understand that not everything’s going to be like Australia, you’ll be surprised by some things, but you’ll manage.


Landscape photo of Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, taken by Piero (2023).

Landscape photo of Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, taken by Piero (2023).

Do you have one piece of advice you would tell other people who are going on Exchange?

Going back to my biggest takeaway, always say “Yes” to everything! But also, before your Exchange, to search for opportunities like Westpac or the New Colombo Plan. As while they don’t make or break your Exchange, with the scholarships, you can do things and have experiences that you otherwise would never have been able to do. You have to go out of your comfort zone in that regard.
While on your Exchange, it is the most important of all to make the most of it because you are only there for 6-12 months, and it goes by faster than one could ever imagine. You don’t have to keep yourself busy, but if you do keep yourself busy for those 6-12 months, you will really feel at the end that you’ve spent your time well, engrossed yourself into the culture, formed experiences, etc. Go do stuff you wouldn’t ordinarily do! 


Interested in learning more about how to apply for exchange? Visit our Semester Programs webpage.

Keen to learn more about the Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship Program? Visit our Funding webpage.
Applications for the 2025 Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship will open during September 2024.

Tagged in Exchange, Osaka, Japan, Student Testimonial, Osaka University, Westpac Asian Exchange, Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship, announcement, announcements, Funding