Bethany - Keio University

Bachelor of International Studies
Semester 1, 2018
I'll be talking about my exchange for years, and I'll remember it forever.

Academic experience

I studied mostly International Centre courses, which were taught in English and had a mixture of exchange and non-exchange students. I also studied two Japanese language courses. The enrollment process was all done on paper, which needed to be handed in to the international student office. One of the best things about Keio is that they give you a week to decide which courses you like and which ones you don't before you have to make your final decision. There are also some courses which are more intensive, but only run for either the first or second half of the semester. Overall, I enjoyed the International Centre courses the most because they had such a diverse mix of people and culture, so I was able to learn a lot from my fellow classmates.

Personal experience

My Japanese language skills certainly developed, especially my listening skills. However, I would say I learnt even more about independence and self-management. For anyone who has not lived out of home before, suddenly moving to a foreign country by yourself can be challenging, but it is also a great opportunity to learn new skills. In this respect, going on exchange gave me more confidence and self-assuredness.

Accommodation

I lived in one of the Keio dormitories called Motosumiyoshi Residence. This dorm was located about a half hour train ride from the Minato campus, and a 10 minute walk from the Hiyoshi campus. It was conveniently placed next to a grocery store and was also near the train station. The rent was a very fair price, considering the room contained a private bathroom, washing machine and kitchenette area. Unfortunately, there aren't many common rooms where you can socialise with the other residents, but every so often the dorm managment would organize a shared lunch for everyone. I would recommend this dorm to anyone looking to study at Keio.

Costs

In Japan, you can get a lot of food relatively cheap depending on what you eat, although I don't recommend eating out at restaurants every night. If you want to save money, it's better to cook for yourself every so often. You can also get a special adjustment to your IC card (like a Go card) which will make your fares to and from university much cheaper, which is helpful because train fairs can add up to a lot quite quickly. The Keio dormitories range in pricing, but I think Motosumiyoshi Residence was very fairly priced.

Professional Development

My intercultural understanding and sensitivity definitely improved, and not just for Japanese culture, but for many other cultures as well because of the wide array of international students. Other than this, I also improved on punctuality and assertiveness which came hand in hand with the independence I gained from living alone.

Highlight

Visiting Hakone and experiencing a traditional hot spring bath with my friends was definitely a highlight of my trip. It was fun and relaxing, but also gave me more insight into Japanese culture at the same time.

Top tips

Leave time for study. Going on exchange is exciting and you'll want to travel constantly, but Japanese universities have a large workload and you don't want to leave it all to the last minute.