Full immersion: A year in Japan

Full immersion: A year in Japan

Mark Burgess is about to experience a full immersion, Japanese style. The CPIT Bachelor of Language (Japanese) student has just received a MEXT scholarship from the Japanese government, which will see him happily installed in university life in Tokyo or Yamagata for one year of living and studying Japanese language and culture.

Mark starts his adventure soon, in October. He has a good idea of what is in store, having lived in Japan three years ago where he taught English and, more randomly, worked on an oyster farm.


One of only three New Zealanders to receive the scholarship this year, Mark’s plan after his year of full immersion is to finish his qualification at CPIT and then return to Japan to pursue a career as a business translator and interpreter in one of the world’s most exciting cities - Tokyo.

Although he says he was “as surprised as anyone” to receive the scholarship, Mark also admits his communication abilities are pretty sharp. It helps, he says, that he had an early interest in Japanese culture and language. “I had a Japanese friend at school so I was exposed to the language from when I was five years old. So yes, that no doubt helped and I normally get good marks for pronunciation now,” he says.

Mark chose the CPIT programme for its strong practical focus, which builds on his speaking and writing ability in Japanese. “The tutors are really helpful. AT CPIT it’s not lectures – my class size is really small so you get one-on-one time with tutors and if you have a question the tutors can answer it there and then.”

He likes “honestly everything” about Japanese culture. “It fits all my expectations. It’s ridiculously safe and people are so helpful.”

His main challenge now is to continue improving his reading and writing ability. “There’s nothing better than full immersion for that,” he says.