Chuyan - Waseda University

B. International Studies
Semester 1, 2017

Academic experience

For my studies at Waseda, I enrolled into the Centre of Japanese Language department (CJL) for 14 tanis of Japanese courses. (full-time load should be 13 tanis=8 units at UQ, but maximumly you are allowed to take 14 tanis per sem, why don't grab the chance to learn more?) Amount these course, I took a Comprehensive Japanese course worth for 10 credits, 2 of the Japanese pronunciation courses, 1 of the course for a formal and polite form of Japanese and 1 course for Japanese food and creative writing. I particularly enjoy the style of everyone sit in a relatively small classroom, and just working with the teacher for 1.5 hours like the good-old-days back in high school. However, there is a strict attendance requirement and I have to go to uni from Tuesday to Thursday every week. Since the dormitory that Waseda provided to UQ students are all very close to the campus, it was not a challenge to go to the university on a regular basis. The dormitory that I was staying was only 5 mins walk from my classes, literary just across the road. It was a fantastic opportunity for anyone who wants to explore the campus more.

Personal experience

I have to say, the exchange at Japan is the best thing ever happened in my undergrad years. Firstly, I was a big fan of Les Miserables and its musical, and I got the opportunity to see the Japanese production of Les Mis in June. Secondly, I visited many of the places mentioned in the Japanese manga, novels, and poetries which I have read. Lastly, I did make few close friends who are also interested in the Japanese novel, literature, history and even manga the same as I do. To summarise, if you do enjoy Japanese culture overall, you would have a very strong motivation to explore and experience more. Not using trains or underground, I travelled the entire centre of Tokyo by feet; I rode a bike from Kyoto to Uji for around 8 hours; I climbed the Mountain Fuji, right up to the top-tip. These are the things that do not require a complex plan, only need you to have passion and just do it. On the other hand, don't hesitate to speak out even you think you don't know the language! It does help me greatly by just trying to speak out loud the basic daily conversation. I found myself much more fluent and confident in Japanese after only 4 months.

Accommodation

Waseda provides UQ students with 3 choices of dormitories: the newest (and the most expensive generally) - Nishi Waseda (the western of Waseda); the Waseda international house (largest rooms as I heard), and the Waseda Hosien. I lived in the Waseda Hosien which is across the road from Waseda central campus. It was absolutely brilliant to just take five minutes walk to get to the campus, and the entire Waseda is nearby many of the giant shopping area such as Shinjuku and Takadanobaba. A piece of advice I must offer is to take some of the tour trips or anything else offered by the dormitories! The notices will be posted on the announcing board in the dormitories, and normally you just have to quickly email the dormitory stuff to apply. Some of them are free and the others are at a very low cost. I went to the Mountain Fuji climbing trip in July, and it was the best decision I have ever made. The trip was well organized, very safe and overall fantastic, so take the opportunities you have in hands!

Budget

Imperial Theatre of Japan
Imperial Theatre of Japan

Overall the cost at Waseda is the average you would spend in Brisbane if you live on your on. 1.5L milk = 2-3 Australian dollars, a cheap but delicious udon in a chain restaurant = 4-10 dollars; the vegetables and fruits are ridiculously expensive (a watermelon could be around 30 dollars). The rent for dormitories rooms without individual toilets is around 185-210 dollars. Transport on the train or underground is around 1.5-2.5 dollars per trip. Entertainment could be high, but you could also find free cultural events everywhere. Since I participate in too many cultural events that flowed up my cost, my estimate might not be accurate. However, generally speaking, around 400 dollars per week including rent should support a fair living in Tokyo.

Professional development and employability

In Japan, I felt that I have improved my language skill largely. The main purpose of me going to Waseda is to learn Japanese, and I believe I have somehow achieved that goal. It is worthy to see how other students working hard in language studies, and how you could learn from their study methods. For the perspective of political studies, I attended a few events such as the consul of RPC speaking about Chinese diplomatic strategies, the recruitment information event for Japanese ministry of foreign affairs and other governmental faculties. These events help me to get an insight into not only what the political students in Japan are studying, but also what kind of future opportunities and careers they are offered. This would help me to find broader information regarding my own future career.

Highlight

Mt. Fuji
Atop Mt. Fuji

Climbing the Mountain Fuji was definitely a highlight. It was a 2 nights and 3 days trip, I climbed with 8 other Waseda exchange students, 2 Waseda teachers, and 2 local guides. It was the feeling of embracing the greatest part of nature and feeling how small the human beings were. It is not only about challenging myself, it is also the time I really found that I was in love with Japan.

Top tips

  • Don't stay in your room.
  • Get up as early as you can, walk outside, do things
  • Speak the language
  • Enjoy every second!
Chuyan - Waseda University