Academic experiences:
I was able to take a wide variety of classes here at Osaka University. The program requires a total of 30 credits per year, and most subjects are worth 1-2 credits, so I was able to take 11 different subjects in one semester. Although there was a lot more work, it was good to be able to study lots of different aspects of the Japanese language and culture at once. One of the compulsory research subjects included field trips to attractions in the local area – so far, we have visited a pottery workshop, a restored samurai house, a sake brewery and a shrine on top of a mountain with a monument to Thomas Edison. There were also additional outings, like a (free!) trip to see a kabuki play, and an overnight study trip.

Personal experiences:
I am still astounded to think of all the things I have done and people I have met in such a short time. The exchange students live together dorms, and I was able to meet so many amazing people from all around the world. Outside of school, I was able to go to Osaka city and Kyoto quite frequently (both are about an hour away from the campus) and explore the cities. I also found it really exciting to be able to conduct everyday activities, like going to the supermarket or the post office, and hold the conversations in Japanese.

Expenses:
I was able to live quite cheaply here, mostly because the rent for the dorms is very low (about 15,600-28,900 yen, depending on the dorm). Eating in the cafeteria or restaurants can be much cheaper than buying vegetables and meat at the supermarket, but you can normally find some things on sale. Most of the money I spent went towards transport costs and food. I think about $800-1000 per month would be enough to live on comfortably.

Accommodation:
I lived in one of the three dorms designated for exchange students on the Minoh campus. When applying for the program, you can also choose to apply to live in one of the dorms (although you are not able to choose which one). As far as I know, no one who applied was rejected. It is possible to move into an apartment, but I would recommend staying in the dorms for at least the first few months until you are settled and have set up a bank account and registered at the city office.

5 TOP TIPS:

  • Plan to have some ready money with you when you first arrive. You will need to buy food and appliances (like a kettle and rice cooker) and pay for your internet and mobile phone in the first few weeks.
  • The campus is very cold and windy during the winter months. You will definitely need a heavy coat, scarf and gloves just for walking to class.
  • Find a cheap, bulk-buy supermarket like Gyoumu and buy food to freeze. Another way to get cheap food is to go to a supermarket at around 4:30 or 8:00pm, when pre-made lunch boxes are discounted and you can get a full meal for 200 yen. For non-food objects, there is a 100-yen shop about 10 minutes walk from campus. Check there first before buying anything from supermarkets.
  • Buy an electronic dictionary if you don’t already have one. Teachers will expect you to have one and will be reluctant to stop class so you can ask for readings and meanings.
  • If someone proposes going to Onohara for karaoke (and this will happen in your first week), suggest going to Kita-Senri instead. It is much cheaper, even with bus fares, and you don’t have to walk home.

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