Steven - Keio University

B. Journalism / B. Arts
Semester 1, 2017; Semester 2, 2017

Academic experience

My course list was as follows.
SPRING SEMESTER:

  • CULTURE COMPONENT (TAUGHT IN ENG)
    • 42072 Intro to Japanese Art History
    • 02072 Journey Through the Floating World (Ukiyo to Michiyuki)
    • 17307 The Inner World of the Noh
    • 50756 Introduction to Japanese Cinema 1: Modernity & Its Discontents
  • JAPANESE LANGUAGE COMPONENT
    • 13076 Essential Japanese 4M
    • 13262 Written Communication 4
    • 13186 Spoken Communication 4

WINTER SEMESTER:

  • CULTURE COMPONENT (TAUGHT IN ENG)
    • 13626 Intercultural Communication & Japanese Culture
    • 31160 Japanese Literature
    • 50168 Arts/Art Workshop: Discovering Arts and Culture in Japan
    • 50780 Introduction to Japanese Cinema 2: Hybridization, Marginalization & Nostalgia Since the 1980s
  • JAPANESE LANGUAGE COMPONENT
    • 18276 Japanese Grammar 5H
    • 18300 Reading, Writing & Spoken Communication 5
    • 15100 Reading & Writing 4

I enjoyed the pressure from the heavy study load produced by studying seven courses a semester. The study pressures were completely different to all of my years at UQ and I feel more prepared for an honours degree year now than before exchange. I didn't consider anything a challenge and I had a daily 'to do list' which is how I got through everything.

Personal experience

In regards to my personal experiences, I believe that I mostly gained management skills in that I felt a constant need to be more functional. I found I searched for better ways to do everything. That transferred to all things personally, as I applied the same approach to all aspects of my life I guess.

Accommodation

I lived off-campus. In semester one all my class were at Mita Campus which is a 40 minute train commute from the Yokohama area. In semester two I had some classes at Hiyoshi Campus which is only a few stations from Keio University's dormitories. I enjoyed the quality of the rooms mostly about the living arrangements, the bedding was supplied and high quality. My advice to other students is if you want to improve your Japanese language speaking ability stay at mixed resident dormitories. My dormitory didn't have Japanese students apart from a few Japanese on-site resident assistants, so basically nobody spoke Japanese there with regular frequency day to day.

Budget

My rent was 55,000 yen. For transport fares I purchased a PASMO card which requires a 500 yen deposit. The deposit is refundable at the airport train station when you leave with what standard recharge credit on it.

With a PASMO card you can purchase a commuters pass for six, three or one month periods, which will be recorded on your card. It's the cheapest way to go via train to campuses. Basically a commuters pass has a fixed route deal, you can use it anytime of the day between fixed locations and fixed train lines.

Because of the in-between semester break, I purchased a six, then three, then one month commuter passes instead of two six month passes. Note that I arrived in March for the Spring Semester and left at the end of the Fall Semester. In reverse, I think similarly that option would be a wise purchase unless you intend to uses your commuter route in between semesters. The six month pass costs 38,000 yen, the three month pass costs 19,000 yen and the monthly pass costs 9000 yen from Tsunashima to Mita. Accordingly, a pass's cost is calculated to the nominated stations.

Entertainment is personal – I think if you're low maintenance like myself it doesn't cost much to have fun near home. 3000 yen per month would be overly generous because really you won't have have spare time outside of study commitments. Food, likewise really depends on the individual, eating staples according to the 'when in Roma' expression should cost a cook savvy person about anything between 8000 and 15,000 yen per month. Beef, fruit and vegetables are expensive alongside desserts and cake.

20,000 yen would be really budgeting for exchange rate fluctuations. From month to month I noticed my standard exchange to fluctuate between 2000 and 4000 yen, sometimes you have a win other times your not so lucky. The experience teaches one a lot about budgeting.

Professional development and employability

Skills that have benefited my development learnt while in Japan are certainly personal management on all levels. I even changed how I manage my emails.

Attributes learnt, notably I'd say are intercultural communication skills. It is a skill that requires, firstly, acknowledgment of opposing cultures and then the ability to apply those skills while in all sorts of states, like fatigue at the end of a long day.

Expect to be studying alongside students of all nationalities. The Fall semester has many American students and the Spring Semester has many European students.

Highlight

The whole experience was a highlight for me and I can't recall a low only well obtained or diverse situations (uncommon to Australian life) that created a learning experience. Everyone I spoke to felt different rewards from their experiences. I personally did enjoy observing a different everyday culture and subsequently spent a lot of time strolling back streets in a variety of different places.

Top tips

An exchange is extremely tiresome and much more complex than a regular university semester. My advice to a student going abroad is consider well whether one semester or two semesters would be best suited to you. Even the toughest students were well fatigued nearing the end of semester two.