Post Reply Studying Abroad in Japan
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22 / M / Shinjuku, Tokyo
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Posted 2/3/16
So everyone, I have been accepted by my university to Study Abroad my entire Junior year at Waseda University in Tokyo near Shinjuku. I would be gone from September 2016 to July of 2017. For those of you that have studied abroad in Japan or just studied abroad anywhere I have a few questions.

1. What kinds of advice would you give to me or anyone that has plans to go abroad?
2. What places do I absolutely have to visit?
3. Is a homestay a good idea? (This one I hear is controversial)
4. What do I need to be careful of?
5. Anything else you want to tell me?

Thank you very much for taking the time to tell me more about Japan and going abroad!!!!

Posted 2/3/16 , edited 2/4/16
I suggest visiting Youtube to checkout videos posted by "Rachel & Jun." Rachel and her Japanese husband extensively post advice videos regarding what you want to know.
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Posted 2/3/16

aeb0717 wrote:

I suggest visiting Youtube to checkout videos posted by "Rachel & Jun." Rachel and her Japanese husband extensively post advice videos regarding what you want to know.


I already watch their videos and l love their channel to death. I was really just looking for anything extra that people on here have experienced. Maybe I will get different perspectives and such. At least that's what I was hoping for. However thanks anyway!!!!
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Posted 2/3/16 , edited 2/4/16
my sister is also going to waseda uni, on march, to finish her masters
the only thing i know is, be prepared to walk A LOT
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Posted 2/3/16

animemusiklover wrote:

my sister is also going to waseda uni, on march, to finish her masters
the only thing i know is, be prepared to walk A LOT


Maybe they have bikes to rent xD I'm used to walking all over my campus, I don't even use the bus so hopefully I'm okay. I just suck with directions.
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Posted 2/3/16
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Posted 2/3/16 , edited 2/4/16
It's um, been awhile (2005) since I went abroad in Japan but this is what I remember:

1. What kinds of advice would you give to me or anyone that has plans to go abroad?
- Your school should be able to give you a lot of good tips but one thing I remember is making sure I had my passport on me at all times (it was a visa requirement, I believe) so have a secure location for that and your money.
- Know that Tokyo is unique. You'll meet a lot more people that can speak English (and will want to use you for English practice) and will be more forward there.

2. What places do I absolutely have to visit?
- Kyoto. Aim for either when the leaves turn or when the sakura trees blossom. It's gorgeous either way.

3. Is a homestay a good idea? (This one I hear is controversial)
- A qualified yes. 90% of the people I went to school with got a lot out of it but there were a couple that did not have a good experience. It seemed to be mostly in the homestay houses with big families. Since you're going for a year, if it doesn't work out during the first semester, you could probably do what one guy in my year did which is switch over to an apartment halfway through.

4. What do I need to be careful of?
- Remember to be respectful of their culture. There's a lot of differences. One that particularly stuck out with me was a "no, thank you" when being offered something is often just taken as being polite. So you'll be asked again a lot of the time.
- This may have just been a personal thing, but every time I was taken out to a "special" dinner, I had a strange experiences. I had a tofu only dinner (seriously, like 7 courses of tofu. I still can't eat tofu to this day after that), a Buddhist dinner, and a couple where I just didn't ask what was served. I found that hot tea was great for settling my stomach.
- Safety wise, it's not nearly as much of an issue as here but there will be a few locations you need to be careful of. Ask your school.

5. Anything else you want to tell me?
- There was a whole group of people who wanted to go to South Korea for a week. I remember they had to do a bunch of paperwork for their visa since they weren't originally approved to leave and come back. Just something to keep in mind if you want to do something like that.
- A good school should be able to help a lot. Mine helped me out with setting up a bank account, getting tickets to various events, getting a hotel room while traveling, etc.
- Take along some standard meds with you or get someone to help you find some standard meds when you get there. When you need them, you don't want to be trying to figure out what might work for you.
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22 / M / Shinjuku, Tokyo
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Posted 2/3/16

gabuhaha wrote:

It's um, been awhile (2005) since I went abroad in Japan but this is what I remember:

1. What kinds of advice would you give to me or anyone that has plans to go abroad?
- Your school should be able to give you a lot of good tips but one thing I remember is making sure I had my passport on me at all times (it was a visa requirement, I believe) so have a secure location for that and your money.
- Know that Tokyo is unique. You'll meet a lot more people that can speak English (and will want to use you for English practice) and will be more forward there.

2. What places do I absolutely have to visit?
- Kyoto. Aim for either when the leaves turn or when the sakura trees blossom. It's gorgeous either way.

3. Is a homestay a good idea? (This one I hear is controversial)
- A qualified yes. 90% of the people I went to school with got a lot out of it but there were a couple that did not have a good experience. It seemed to be mostly in the homestay houses with big families. Since you're going for a year, if it doesn't work out during the first semester, you could probably do what one guy in my year did which is switch over to an apartment halfway through.

4. What do I need to be careful of?
- Remember to be respectful of their culture. There's a lot of differences. One that particularly stuck out with me was a "no, thank you" when being offered something is often just taken as being polite. So you'll be asked again a lot of the time.
- This may have just been a personal thing, but every time I was taken out to a "special" dinner, I had a strange experiences. I had a tofu only dinner (seriously, like 7 courses of tofu. I still can't eat tofu to this day after that), a Buddhist dinner, and a couple where I just didn't ask what was served. I found that hot tea was great for settling my stomach.
- Safety wise, it's not nearly as much of an issue as here but there will be a few locations you need to be careful of. Ask your school.

5. Anything else you want to tell me?
- There was a whole group of people who wanted to go to South Korea for a week. I remember they had to do a bunch of paperwork for their visa since they weren't originally approved to leave and come back. Just something to keep in mind if you want to do something like that.
- A good school should be able to help a lot. Mine helped me out with setting up a bank account, getting tickets to various events, getting a hotel room while traveling, etc.
- Take along some standard meds with you or get someone to help you find some standard meds when you get there. When you need them, you don't want to be trying to figure out what might work for you.


Wow this is amazing, thank you very much for the long and detailed answer!!!!
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Posted 2/3/16 , edited 2/4/16
1. What kinds of advice would you give to me or anyone that has plans to go abroad?
Specifically for Japan, divide prices by 100 to get a good estimate in USD that will help you save money. It'll work since the USD is strong right now.

Get used to using cash. Japan still uses cash a lot. Outside of hotels, touristy destinations, and large retailers, you will most likely use cash for purchases. So, make sure your bank is set up to avoid/minimize ATM fees and currency exchange fees. IIRC, Citibank is the most recognizable bank you will see in Japan with convenient locations.

2. What places do I absolutely have to visit?
If you have the means (money mostly) you should visit as many places around Japan as you can. Look for travel agents in order to plan trips. You can sign up for anything from tabehodai day trips to multi-day tours of various locales that include hotel and airfare.

3. Is a homestay a good idea? (This one I hear is controversial)
I had a great experience. Most people I know who were in homestay had positive experiences. Mine was by no means the best. But they fed me and exposed me to a lot of Japanese culture I would have otherwise missed. Also, because they spoke almost no English, I was really forced to develop my Japanese.

As a counterpoint, there are cases where the homestay family is just in it for the money, but I feel like those were not common. The worst you are likely to face is living with the same people for a year. If personalities clash or their habits are difficult for you to live with, then you might have a problem. But as others have said, there is a chance to move since you will be there for a year.

4. What do I need to be careful of?
As far as being culturally sensitive goes, you'll be scrutinized more if you look white. Among the study abroad students there were discussions about how Asians got away with a lot more "rude" behaviors, while white students would get chewed out by little old Japanese ladies.

5. Anything else you want to tell me?
Be careful about buying too much stuff while you are there. If you want to bring it back, it can be fairly difficult to ship.

Have fun!
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Posted 2/4/16

penguinguyx wrote:

1. What kinds of advice would you give to me or anyone that has plans to go abroad?
Specifically for Japan, divide prices by 100 to get a good estimate in USD that will help you save money. It'll work since the USD is strong right now.

Get used to using cash. Japan still uses cash a lot. Outside of hotels, touristy destinations, and large retailers, you will most likely use cash for purchases. So, make sure your bank is set up to avoid/minimize ATM fees and currency exchange fees. IIRC, Citibank is the most recognizable bank you will see in Japan with convenient locations.

2. What places do I absolutely have to visit?
If you have the means (money mostly) you should visit as many places around Japan as you can. Look for travel agents in order to plan trips. You can sign up for anything from tabehodai day trips to multi-day tours of various locales that include hotel and airfare.

3. Is a homestay a good idea? (This one I hear is controversial)
I had a great experience. Most people I know who were in homestay had positive experiences. Mine was by no means the best. But they fed me and exposed me to a lot of Japanese culture I would have otherwise missed. Also, because they spoke almost no English, I was really forced to develop my Japanese.

As a counterpoint, there are cases where the homestay family is just in it for the money, but I feel like those were not common. The worst you are likely to face is living with the same people for a year. If personalities clash or their habits are difficult for you to live with, then you might have a problem. But as others have said, there is a chance to move since you will be there for a year.

4. What do I need to be careful of?
As far as being culturally sensitive goes, you'll be scrutinized more if you look white. Among the study abroad students there were discussions about how Asians got away with a lot more "rude" behaviors, while white students would get chewed out by little old Japanese ladies.

5. Anything else you want to tell me?
Be careful about buying too much stuff while you are there. If you want to bring it back, it can be fairly difficult to ship.

Have fun!


Many thanks! I was wondering about banks and stuff. I almost always use my debit card here in the states so it will be a big change going to only cash xD! I will keep that in mind!
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Posted 2/7/16
1. What kinds of advice would you give to me or anyone that has plans to go abroad?
Always have your passport or a copy of it with you along with your issued student ID at all times (also doesnt hurt to have your home uni ID and other forms of ID like drivers license or state ID). Be aware of the currency rate (went last year for a rate of $1USD = Y120-125 so my local expenses were cheap) and carry cash as others previously stated. As someone who works in restaurant business, tipping is uncommon and somewhat frown upon since workers do get paid a tolerable wage so don't be afraid of skimping out when eating or other service-related industries. Obviously, if not fluent, learn basic phrases essential for travel in the language and cultural etiquette. Clothing wise, for dudes, anything larger than a US Medium size for shirts or 34 waist line is hard to find (luckily for me I had a wider selection of clothing compared to back home).

2. What places do I absolutely have to visit?
My study abroad was in the Kansai region/Keihanshin metro area, so hit up the core cities of Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe along with historically/culturally relevant places like Nara, Wakayama, Otsu, Himeji, and Hikone. Also Kansai folks are chill and friendly compared to other regions.

3. Is a homestay a good idea? (This one I hear is controversial)
Can't help you on this one bruv but from hearing other of my friend's experiences go for it.

4. What do I need to be careful of?
If you're a lightweight when it comes to drinking, learn how to say no. Avoid areas that obviously have shady dealings going on like pachinko (don't do it, these places are depressing), after hours neighborhoods with schoolgirls offering semi-legal to illegal services or just be more cautious than usual of your surroundings.

5. Anything else you want to tell me?
And finally the universal golden rule, don't be a dickhead to others unless you want people to treat you as otherwise.
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