Business Management/Engineering
Business Management/Engineering

I’m currently in my third year of a dual Business Management/Engineering degree, majoring in mining and international business. I went on exchange in the second semester of 2012 to Japan, studying courses only from my business degree. Sophia University -- my host university in Japan -- had an array of courses available in English.

The way in which classes were conducted took some getting used to, as the majority of the students in the courses were local Japanese students. This meant that the lecturers assumed a degree of familiarity with Japanese concepts that I found completely foreign, like the political system of Japan!

Outside of class, the Japanese language was essential for communicating with others. Most students outside of the class (and even more people not at university!) had very little experience with English, probably something that would surprise a lot of newcomers.

Luckily, the Japanese people were very welcoming and understanding, and there were a lot of resources available to help me settle in. I joined a club that promoted relations between exchange and local students, holding regular events all of Tokyo! This was a great way to meet both local students and fellow exchange students.

The accommodation I stayed in was a dormitory off campus, of which most people were local Japanese residents. Staying in a dorm helped with a lot of the administrative work that goes along with going on exchange – the dorm manager helped me with thing such as registering for residency, paying for insurance, and even where best to get supplies in the local area.

It was expensive living in Japan – especially in Tokyo. Be prepared to pay a higher cost for basic essentials such as groceries, books, transportation and bills. I would recommend making friends with a local resident and learning where the cheapest places are to buy some of these things – sometimes going a little ways out of the city helped me find good bargains.

Some good advice to follow is to learn Japanese either while you’re in Japan or better yet, before going. You’ll find yourself time and time again running into situations where even a basic knowledge of Japanese will save a lot of effort. I would recommend getting a Japanese-English dictionary on your smartphone – this saved my life more than once!

Another tip is to make friends with a Japanese local, and ask them for help in getting some of the more difficult things out of the way – such as getting a commuter pass and getting a local phone. If your knowledge of Japanese is somewhat limited, these would be pretty difficult on your own.
Above all, have fun and enjoy your trip overseas!


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