Madison - Waseda University

B. Arts
Semester 1, 2015; Semester 2, 2015

Academic experience

I took a diverse range of Japanese courses from basic kanji (as I had been a little rusty) to documentary discussion classes (involving the use of challenging Japanese). I most enjoyed the variety of courses offered. As there were so many to choose from, when it came time to pick it was very difficult to decide.

Some challenges were basic class registration confusion (which was quickly solved with the help of the university staff) and some cultural differences with fellow class mates and teachers. This was overcome by trying to look at things from their perspective and good communication.

Personal experience

From this exchange I have gained many new personal experiences such as new friends, visiting new places, acquiring more language skills and also growing as a person. This experience has made me an incredibly independent and self sufficient person. As there were times when I faced great personal difficulty with no one to reply on, I learned to rely on myself.


I lived off-campus but was in a university dormitory. My dorm was very close to the university which was incredibly convenient as I could save on transport costs (which can quickly rack up in Tokyo). The dorm itself was nice and quiet. I lived in a single dorm as I am a very private person. It was very small. Sometimes I did feel as though I was living in a prison. The shared kitchen space proved difficult to use as the other occupants of the floor did not seem to share my thoughts regarding sharing spaces and hygiene issues. 

My advice to future students would be that if you are a very sociable person, then living a dorm would be a great way to make new friends quickly. If you are not, then get a single room.


The cost of living in Japan is relatively low but because it is low it is easy to spend money fast.

The cost of rent depends on if you live in a dorm or if you rent an apartment yourself. If you live in a dorm close to the university your life will be much easier regarding rent, utilities, transport costs. I would say take as much money as you can with you.

Professional development and employability

I believe that I have developed the skills to interact with people from all different backgrounds and find common ground. Attending Waseda has given me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and learn about their cultures and beliefs. This has helped me to become a more accepting and open-minded person. I believe this will aid me greatly in my future endeavours.

I have also learned to deal with stress in the workplace and at university. The importance of looking after my health and wellbeing was harshly pointed whilst living a very fast paced and busy lifestyle in Tokyo. Having a healthy body and mind has helped me to become more efficient in my studies and in other activities such as volunteering. This is of great importance to my professional development.


The highlight of my experience was meeting incredible people through the various opportunities offered to me through school and other avenues. I believe that the friendships forged throughout this past year will continue to strengthen well into the future. From meeting some of my best friends to evacuees of the Fukushima area, to young children learning English, the people I have met have had a huge impact on me and the way that I view the world. I believe thanks to these people and opportunities, that my exchange has become a great chapter of my life that will continue to influence me throughout my life.

Top tips

Be prepared to endure hardships. At first, you will want to go home for whatever reason. But if you push through and persevere, it will get better and it will be worth it.