Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts

I was at Komazawa for semesters 1 & 2 of 2012. I lived in Tokyo from March 2012 until March 2013, in my third and final year of a Bachelor of Arts. Going on exchange had always been something I had wanted to do, so there was never any question about it when I had the chance to do this through UQ Abroad. It’s been one of the best and most challenging experiences I’ve ever had.

I picked Komazawa because I thought Tokyo would be a good place to live, and I had heard that English is not really spoken on campus. I wanted to be somewhere where I really had to use Japanese. The accommodation at Komazawa was very good – private rooms with your own bathroom and kitchen, a TV, a desk and even a small balcony. From everyone at other unis I’ve spoken to it seems like I was very lucky!

All of my classes were in Japanese, and reading textbooks was tricky at the start, but I had plenty of help from friends and from my supervising professor. As a foreign student, you have the option of taking regular classes or special ones for international students on Japanese language and culture. The language classes varied a lot in difficulty and the amount of homework, so try to ask someone who’s been about whose classes are the most fun! I was in the Global Media Studies faculty and I ended up doing a lot of Sociology classes, which were really interesting.

As an exchange student, I was by default a member of the international circle, and I made a lot of great friends there. There are a lot of different circles and clubs you can join, but be aware that the bukatsu are very serious and might take up three to four days of your week! The international circle organises two trips away every year and I would highly recommend going! They’re always great value for money and it’s a good chance to make new friends and try new things. I got to go snowboarding with them in December, and we went away to the beach in summer.

I had a really great experience at Komazawa and would highly recommend it to anyone who is already confident with their Japanese!

My top 5 tips:

  •  Get a bike! It makes going to uni and buying groceries so much easier. From the dorms you can also ride to Shibuya, Harajuku and Yoyogi Park, Shimokitazawa and lots of other fun places. Buses and trains are expensive!
  • Choose classes wisely. If you arrive in March/April you only have ONE chance to pick your classes for the entire year! I wasn’t aware of this and made a few mistakes that I had to deal with in semester 2. You can drop classes, but you can’t pick up new ones, so enroll in more than you need.
  • Be friendly with your supervisor. I was lucky to get a very nice professor who speaks English, and I took a total of 5 of his classes. Your supervisor is obliged to help you, and might even do nice things like invite you around for dinner.
  • Give up on finding good coffee at uni. There is nothing like Merlos here. The best coffee I had in Tokyo was at Ballon d’essai in Shimokitazawa, but Komazawa Rice Café (across the street from McDonalds and down a bit) has stuff that’s not awful, and they do really good food.
  • Travel! Take a night bus to Kyoto or fly to Okinawa and see the rest of Japan! Travelling domestically doesn’t need to be that expensive. Compare prices at hostels online and find somewhere you want to go. Ask your friends when the cheapest times to travel are. The summer and winter breaks are long enough that you will have a lot of time for this.

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