My Exchange in Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun
During CEMS application process I realized that CEMS offer a lot more than ’just’ the top universities in Europe. Currently there are 9 schools outside our continent, so that you can definitely fulfill your cultural curiosity in either Asia, North or South Amerika, Australia while you will study in the top universities in the world. I choose Japan as I was really keen on to see and to live in a completely different culture, to experience something odd and extraordinary, to have a semester that I will remember for my rest of my life. And I need to admit that this was my best choice during my university years!
Before I arrived I had many worries about settling down, finding an accommodation, adopting the culture, but luckily it turned out that as always I worried way too much beforehand.
Keio University offers a wide variety of dormitories in Tokyo. I choose to live a bit further from the city center in the Shimoda Student Village (the biggest junction, Shibuya is 20 mins by metro line), as some class are 10 minutes away from my accommodation by walk and also it is friendlier to live in a calmer neighborhood, a bit further from the ‘Tokyo craziness’. My dorm is dedicated to the international students, so that it is extremely easy to get to know other people, you only need to visit the kitchen once in a while J
Apart from my dorm you can also choose to live in a dorm with local students (the rules are very strict though), a dorm with ‘private partment’ (you’ll have your own kitchen, and washing machine) or nearby to the Mita campus in the heart of Tokyo.
After I got nominated to the Keio University I rapidly started to look for scholarships everywhere. I was also enquired at the Keio University (although I didn’t have any hopes for that), and around July they finally replied with an application for JASSO scholarship.
JASSO (Japan Student Services Organization) is a state funded scholarship aims to help for the short term exchange students, and provides 80.000 Yen/month (so that it fully covers my accommodation and my transportation costs). In the end of August it turned out that I could receive this scholarship, I only need to sign the scholarship paper in every month and fill out 2 questionnaire during the semester.
This scholarship is a really unique opportunity to finance your stay without Erasmus,live with this opportunity and come to Japan J
To sum up: APPLY FOR JASSO SCHOLARSHIP, SO THAT AN EXCHANGE IN JAPAN WILL NOT BE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN TO GO TO ANY WESTERN EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY!
Application & Visa:
After you got nominated by Corvinus, Keio University will also send you a tons of paper for their own application process. It is needed to fulfill everything properly as you at the end of the process you will receive the ‘Certificate of Eligibility’ an official document to apply for the student visa. There is a section about why did you choose Japan and Keio University - do NOT leave it out, as this section is also considered for the JASSO Scholarship. After I received the ‘Certficate of Eligibility’ getting the student visa was a piece of cake, it took only 2 days without any worries.
Visit at the Ward Office & first couple of days:
After you arrive to Tokyo you need to register the location of your accommodation, apply for Natinal Health Insurance in the local ward office. They usually don’t speak English which makes the process a bit complicated and funny at the same time, but as there are a lot of exchanges they are trying to improve in this aspect.
In order to receive the JASSO scholarship & setting an automatic bank transfer for paying the rent of the dorm you need to have a Japanese bank account. It takes a few hours to arrange, also the language barriers makes it harder to arrange, but at the end of the day it is easily manageable to arrange even by yourself without any Japanese knowledge.
In the first week you should also get a data card as it makes your life a lot easier, but to do that you need a credit card. Unfortunately for me it took several weeks to find a shop where they accept only the photocopy of my card.
In the middle of September we had the our block seminar. In the first couple of days we had lectures in the Hiyoshi campus about design thinking, as the seminar was organized by the Keio Media Design department. For the weekend we travelled to Shirakaba – ko, a lakeside in Nagano prefecture. Our task was to create a business plan to boost the Japanese tourism using the tools of design thinking, what we learned in the first couple of days. Luckily beside fulfilling the task we had time to enjoy our stay in the area as well, we had opportunity to visit the local onsen, to have a full traditional Japanese dinner, to get to know the KMD professors and the other students.
Social Activities & Travelling Around
Before I arrived I applied to be the Global CEMS Ambassador at Keio University. CEMS Ambassador program aims to enhance the recently established CEMS Club’s life and activities, in this way I take a crucial part in organizing activities for the CEMSies, and forming our CEMS Club.
CMES Club Tokyo is mainly based on the exchange students (currently there are 10 exchanges, and 2 local students), so that it all depends on you how well you organize the activities, and your life in Japan. Obviously you will travel around a lot, and you will always feel the urge to explore more. I have arrived to Tokyo 2 months ago but I still feel like I haven’t seen even the half of the city.
Some activities that we have already done (or planning to do) with the CEMSies:
- We climb the Mount Fuji in the first week
- We traveled to Nikko, a world heritage site for a weekend
- We went to Yokohama
- A daytrip to Enoshima
- We hiked Mount Takao in the Global Sustainability week
- Enjoying the Halloween craziness in Shibuya
- Eating sushi in the Tsukiji fish market
- Karaoke all the time!!!
Some of the upcoming events:
- A trip to Kyoto-Nara-Osaka
- Volunteering in a Children camp
- Skiing in Nagano
- Visiting Hokkaido, and the monkeys in the natural onsens
Keio University is the best university for business and economics in Japan, its recognition is unbelievable within the country. I was surprised by the fact that in terms of CEOs within the Alumni Keio is the first one in the world.
I took 4 classes (each is 8 ECTS): Business Strategy in the Era of Change, Advance Studies of International Relations, Advanced Studies of International Finance, Management Control in Japan and an elementary Japanese language course. The level of education is completely satisfying, although compared to my previous years (as I had 2 majors) I have a lot more free time, but it is perfect for discover more from Japan – as if you travelled 9000 km you should not only sit in the library for the whole semester .
With the CEMS Club Tokyo we are also keen on to organize and to participate some professional activities. Some examples of what we have done:
- CEMS Club welcome reception with the professors
- Visit at Tokyo Stock Exchange
- Davos Experience at Unilever
- Company visit at McKinsey
ALL IN ALL: COME TO JAPAN, IT IS GOING TO BE THE BEST EXPERIENCE OF YOUR UNI LIFE!
Contact the author Zentai Szidónia at email@example.com