Alice - Hitotsubashi University

B. Science/Arts
Semester 2, 201

Academic experience

I was enrolled in 5 Japanese language courses and 1 Japanese culture exploration seminar. At Hitotsubashi University I was really impressed by this system they had for course enrolment. The classes provided were listed out and for there was something I like to call the 'tester' week. Basically, this one week conducted classes half the usual time that explained the courses and what was to be expected from the course. You could use the other half of that lesson to go to a different lesson at the same time and listen to that lesson's outline and pick and choose the class you would prefer. At first, I found that the Japanese language classes were quite hard as they were all taught in Japanese - even the grammar class! If you stopped paying attention, even a little, then you became completely lost. However, as this class was the level I was placed in after a proficiency test I realised that thoroughly preparing for the class beforehand allowed me to take mental breaks, even for a second, and get back right on track without losing the plot.

Personal experience

I made quite a few good friends on this exchange! The good thing about going on exchange to a completely different country is that you can usually find at least one common interest with the other exchange students. Hitotsubashi University also hosts many events that are a good place to interact and have fun with people of all backgrounds.


I decided to live in the dorms provided by Hitotsubashi University and was placed in one of the many buildings at Kodaira campus. There are usually six people in a share-house situation. You get your own bed, fridge, desk, balcony and closet but share the toilet, kitchen and shower. In comparison to the Kunitachi Campus, the bulk of the international students are placed on the Kodaira campus and it was so fun and interesting to talk to so many people from different countries. In my own unit, no one was from the same country - I had a French, English, Hong Kong, Korean and Japanese roommate. The rent for the dorms is very cheap compared to if you were to rent a place by yourself and provides you with more opportunities and events that you could attend so I would recommend just going for it.


The rent of the dorms itself was a bit more than 5000 yen per month not including utilities, so it is very affordable for a place in Tokyo. You will, however, most likely blow quite a portion of your budget on food and travel. Traveling to and from Kunitachi campus will take up to 600 yen per day. If you have classes every day that's around $30 a week just to get to class. Not to mention that you would also have to go on the JR line, which can become quite expensive, to be able to get to Harajuku, Shinjuku, Shibuya, etc. If you want to travel during the holidays the bullet trains can also get very expensive. Food, food, food. Everything is too delicious over here and you also end up spending more than you would think at Convenience stores and at the vending machines - be careful!

Professional development and employability

I would say the most important skill that I have developed studying in Japan is being able to more easily overcome or even just recognise communication and cultural barriers. Unlike other countries that one may be inclined to study abroad in, most Japanese people can only speak Japanese. Although the University does put together sessions for government paper for foreigners most other chores that have to get done are up to you and being able to improve the way you communicate your meaning in a culturally sensitive way is definitely something that has improved.


The highlight of my experience was being able to get into the Exploring Japan Seminar. The main purpose of this seminar is to introduce Japanese Culture to exchange students through 6 different Japanese experience. The events offered for my semester were: going to a Sumo tournament, a Sake brewery and a night festival, trying on a Kimono, performing a tea ceremony and a campus quiz rally with the Japanese students. At the end, we also celebrated with a trip to the hot springs together.

Bonus point: Marks are given based on how many of the events you attended and the group project is to create a memory book. You will receive a copy of this memory book when you have finished the seminar.

Top tips

  • I recommend borrowing or buying a bike and riding to school to save on transportation money. This will take around 20 minutes depending on the route you take. Make sure to ask around to see what route you prefer There is a second-hand bike selling store near the train station if you choose this option. 
  • On the first floor of every dorm and in front of the plaza at Kodaira campus always have notices on extra events that the ISDAK team are holding. For example, there was a Mochi-making event during New years that was free entry for Hitotsubashi students and a tour of Kodaira that showed all the cheap shops around the dorms.
  • International foods can be quite hard to find in Japan, and even when they are found they are usually quite expensive. I would recommend trying more Japanese-style recipes if you want to budget your food. Oh, you also won’t usually have an oven so make sure you can make a lot of food without that.
  • The website shows a list of events happening in Tokyo for that week, weekend, month and next month. Check out the site if you have no idea what you want to do or see.
Alice - Hitotsubashi University