1. Upon arrival, did you have to change any classes you chose? How did that go?
Some of the classes offered weren’t the same as thise I found online, plus Kangaku needed me to officially sign up for the classes so I changed many of them. It was no problem at all, I just emailed Gunnella with the class names and credit amount, got a green light from her and signed up for the classes 🙂
2. Did someone pick you up from the airport?
I arrived 2 weeks before school in Tokyo rather than Osaka (cuz travel) so no, but those who arrived on the right day were picked up by someone from the school.
3. How was your first week adapting?
It was all a bit scary at first, moving into a new place in a new country where I didn’t know anybody, but since everyone of the other ryugakusei (exchange students) felt the same way I quickly made friends. School orientation also kept me busy for the first week.
4. How much are you paying a month for rent, food, transport and other necessities?
I pay for my dorm in bulk, 1 semester at a time, but I think the rent is roughly 30.000yen a month. My electricity bill varies on how much I use the heater (if not much 150yen, if a lot 700yen). I got lucky with my dorm location as it is right next to school (less than 5 minutes walking, whoop whoop!) so the transport fees are low for me, probably around 3000yen a month. Other stuff… I’m pretty sure I spend about 30.000yen or so on food, snacks, laundry, showers (my dorm is one of the few where you have to pay for showers x.x) and whatever else I want, not counting random shopping spree money 😉
5. Did you get into student dorms? If no, where are you staying and how has it worked for you?
Yup, I live in a dorm!
6. Did you apply for any scholarships? If yes, which ones did you receive?
7. Did you create a bank account or do you withdraw from ATMs? If you withdraw from ATMs, what would be your recommendation in terms of timing and amount? If you created a bank account, which bank did you go to?
Kangaku requires all students to make a Japanese bank account and they help us with making one but since it’s troublesome to transfer money there (I don’t even know which bank it is, to be honest, and the school office is literally no help with anything besides making the account) I just use ATMs and my Icelandic bank account. I always use an ATM at 7-11 or a post office since those accept all cards and offer an English option (and 7-11 is open 24/7 if you suddenly find yourself in need of money) and I normally take out 30.000 yen at a time. That amount 1-2 times a month is generally enough for me, although of course it depends on what I’m doing (traveling costs more, etc).
8. Does your phone work in Japan or did you have to get a new one?
My phone worked fine but I got a Japanese sim card since using it here would cost a fortune. I went for a sim card that only has internet since you can call/message people through LINE and most regular Japanese sim cards require a 2 year contract. I pay about 1500yen a month for 2GB which I find is plenty.
9. Have you had any funny/embarrassing language miscommunication?
Weirdly enough, no. My friend did manage to accidentally say だいてinstead of だいたい once though… does not mean the same thing at all xD
10. Did you apply for LÍN and advance payment from your bank? If yes, did you encounter any problems/do you have any tips?
Nope, got none of that.
11. Do you miss anything about Iceland?
Of course! I miss free and delicious water, I miss snow, I miss houses that aren’t colder on the inside than the outside temperature (seriously Japan why do you not insulate your houses properly?), I miss spicy food, I miss liquorice, I miss my cats… I could go on for a while.
12. What’s your most interesting/funny experience in Japan?
My trip to Tokyo, for sure. It’s a really long story but let’s just say it started with “Shasshin Time”, became “Homeless in Tokyo” and ended in “Korea Town.” You can read all about it on my rarely updated travel blog、http://avikinginjapan.tumblr.com/
(not all the parts are there yet but they’ll come)
13. Did you buy a travel insurance before you left for Japan? If yes, where from?
I don’t remember buying any specific insurance, although I bought my plane ticket with a credit card that gives you automatic travel insurance.
14. Did you bring medicine with you to Japan?
I brought a box of loretine and a small jar of ibuprofine. No problems encountered.
15. Is there anything you regret bringing with you?
No. I was a bit worried about bringing too many clothes but now I’m glad I brought a lot since you really need both summer and winter clothes and having enough clothes means I have a smaller urge to go shopping for new ones.
16. Is there anything you wish you would have brought with you?
More liquorice. I got informed by friends beforehand what would be troublesome to get though so I for example brought 2 giant tubes of toothpaste and 4 cans of deodorant (and yes, I am very very glad I brought those things).
17. What’s the weather like? Do you have any tips for keeping cool/warm?
Summer = crazy hot, winter = crazy cold (In Kansai, at least).For summer, just keep your windows open a lot and always have water/some sort of liquid on you. For winter, keeping your curtains closed helps keep the warmth inside and if you are like me and need to pay a lot for using your heater I recommend many warm blankets and full on Icelandic warm clothes (wool socks to sleep in save my poor toes from freezing, for real).
18. How are classes compared to those you took in Iceland, and is it heavier/easier?
The non-Japanese classes vary between classes but mostly they are similar to back home. In Kangaku you choose between a regular or an intensive track for your Japanese classes and since I’m regular I feel like the Japanese classes themselves are a lot easier than back home and honestly don’t teach me all that much (I’m learning plenty from other classes/speaking with Japanese friends though) but my friends in intensive have a lot of homework all the time and seem to be learning more (they have fewer non-Japanese classes though). Depends on which course you take I suppose.
19. What’s your favourite Japanese food so far?
Okonomiyaki is the bomb!
20. What’s your most disliked Japanese food so far?
I’m not overly fond of gyoza.
21. Are there any specific shops that you recommend?
Book Off is the best place for cheap books/manga and they even have used DS’s and games for cheap.
22. Do you have any tattoos? If yes, did you encounter any problems?
I don’t have any.
23. Is there anything one must see or do in your location?
If anyone is in my specific area (between Osaka and Kobe) I would recommend looking at my campus (Kangaku is literally one of the prettiest schools in Japan). Some people might also enjoy the fact that the author of Suzumiya Haruhi went to my school and that whole story takes place in Nishinomiya (where I live) so you can find some places that are directly from the story around here.
The mountain behind Kangaku is also a rather nice, easy hike and there’s a pretty park there, a cute temple and a beautiful view of everything from here to Osaka.
Next town over is Takarazuka where the Takarazuka Revue all female kabuki group is from and their theater is pretty impressive. Takarazuka also has the Osamu Tesuka museum, which is a cool place if you’re into anime/manga.
Lastly, there’s a small city named Mino relatively close which has a festival called Tengu Matsuri in early October and I seriously recommend this to everyone who can go. It’s a crazy experience and something you can only get here.
24. Did you travel within Japan? Where did you go and how was your experience?
I’ve traveled a lot within Kansai and also been up to Tokyo. Everything has been pretty great so far, there’s so much stuff to see and do everywhere and even when things go wrong they just make for great stories later J
25. Do you have anything to add? なんでもいいです。