Student Experience - Japan
Exchange Student, Nicholas Haigler
Oberlin University, Japan – Fall 2007 to Spring 2008
“I feel I have learned more than just a language while on my exchange. I have learned many lifetime experiences, and gained many new friends from all over the world. It has been an experience of a lifetime.”
The student visa process was not complicated. After completing all the documents necessary for the application process, you then wait. The school actually applies for you visa for you. You are then sent a Certificate of Eligibility, which is the document needed in order to obtain your visa. You take the “COE” and your passport to the Consulate of Japan in Hawaii and they will assist you in the proper visa document. You can do it by mail, but it is easy and you will walk out with your visa. The visa is good for a year (if you are studying for a year). As far a re-entry once you arrive to Japan, you then have to visit Immigrations in Japan to apply for a re-entry permit. Single re-entry is ￥3000 (yen), multiple re-entry ￥6000. The only complaint is that you will not receive the “COE” until the beginning of August, so you do feel a little rushed.
With regards to traveling, Hawaii and Japan are primarily direct flights. Since the period of stay is one year, a round trip ticket is not possible. So you must do a one-way and then wait until closer to departure for the return flight. I purchased my ticket through www.studentuniverse.com. This is a decent site, if they have flights for the specific dates you want. After you apply and are accepted, you do not receive too much information from the University until August. In August you receive our your “COE”, your address, and a few other documents. You will need to take a placement exam before a specific date provided.
The Oberlin University does provide transportation from the airport, which is about 2 hours from the school. You must provide the university with you schedule and flight, which is in respects of the days the University want you to arrive. The first evening you spent at a hotel near the airport. The following day you are then taken to the University by bus. The University does have an orientation. It is over a number of days and specifically for the exchange students. At this time you will choose classes, and have assistance with the major areas of traveling abroad. If you have any questions, feel free to ask for help, they are more than welcome to assist you. Classes actually began late September. For the fall semester, we will have a small break around Christmas and then return for finals in January. The spring semester I do not know when it begins, but will run until about July. As an overall, I think the classes were excellent. The core Japanese class was very intense. I also enjoyed the Management and Economics as it pertains to my majors. CIS is the department in charge of exchange students and they will always help with any situation.
For housing while at Oberlin, I lived in the dorms, which is called apartments. It has a loft to sleep, washing machine, microwave, refrigerator, stove, small table and chairs. It is setup through the university and you pay for the semester which includes 10000￥ for water, electric, etc. If you go over then you pay the difference, but this is very rare, if ever. The total for a semester is about 380000￥. I ate most of my meals at home. There is a cafeteria and of course many restaurants. The facilities and recreation activities available at Oberlin - a gym and PE classes are offered. You can use the gym for free. There are many clubs which may cost minimal fees to help pay for courts or rentals.
When you arrive you have to wait to receive insurance, etc. Then you can sign up for a cell phone. To make International calls, I used VOIP, which is the internet phone. I have used a phone card, but it is rather expensive. For ATMs, you can use Japan Post, 7elevens, and Citi banks. There is a fee about $1.75, and the exchange rate is based on your bank. You can setup an account here in Japan, and do wire transfer, if you prefer. On average, an exchange student would spend about 120000￥per month.
If you go into downtown, some English is used. But near the University or anywhere else, the language is mandatory. It is a real benefit when learning the language to be totally immersed in it. I suggest traveling as much as possible. Everywhere in Japan is very unique and different. Check calendars for events to experience the culture. The only difficulty was not getting to enjoy a real steak. The meat is great, but not a big steak. I would defiantly do it again. The university is great. The location is great. The whole experience is amazing. I highly recommend it. I highly suggest to those who are interested to do an exchange at Oberlin. You will enjoy every moment and gain more than you expect from it.