The National Universities of Japan was established during the Meiji era as prefectural or imperial universities. To this day, these are considered the oldest and more prestigious institutions, thus they are highly regarded amongst Japanese students. [This is similar to the Group of 8 in Australia].
University of Yamanashi is one of these. Most of the students I encountered are among the best of Yamanashi and surrounding prefectures, and had to work very hard to get in. In this post, I’ll try to give you guys useful information regarding this university. (For other universities, try to find people that went to that university when they did ICS).
After settling in to your accomodation, you will be examined on your Japanese. STUDY IN SYDNEY! If you don’t revise, you’ll be spending the first semester in the Intensive Course. While it is a great way to solidify what you have learned, it can however mean less free time to explore and have fun.
For foreign students, the classes are broken down in to several levels. Beginners will take the Intensive Course, while those that scored 40+ will be recommended in either Lower Intermediate, Intermediate, Upper Intermediate or Advanced.
Main take-away message is this: the reason you are coming to Japan is learn about Japan and what it has to offer, right? More Japanese you know before even coming to Japan, the easier it is to adjust in the first week or 2, and ultimately the more you’ll get out of the year.
Professor and Tutor
You will meet the mentor of international studies, who will assist you in the exchange program. You will be assigned an academic advisor and a tutor from your designated faculty. University of Yamanashi comprise of 4 faculties:
- Faculty of Education and Human Science
- Faculty of Medicine
- Faculty of Engineering
- Faculty of Life and Environmental Science
So in my case, because I’m doing a Bachelor of Business (Major in Economics and Finance) at UTS, I’m in the Faculty of Life and Environmental Science.
The academic advisor is your professor and will act on your behalf in admin matters as well as being your Japanese guarantor for contracts (like rent, if you need to move out of the kaikan for whatever reason). Since I’m living in the Kaikan, don’t worry about this particular role.
Your tutor will be one of your professor’s research (honours) student. Their job is to help you settle in Japan, such as getting your residence card (在留カード) registered at the City Hall (市役所、しやくしょ), open up a bank account, get a personal seal (印鑑、いんかん), and getting either a SIM or mobile phone.
A day at 梨大 consist of six 1.5 hour periods and a lunch break. The times are set out as shown below:
1: 0900 – 1030
2: 1040 – 1210
3: 13:10 – 1440
4: 1450 – 1620
5: 1630 – 1800
6: 1810 – 1940
There will be times where Japanese students at 梨大 want to ask you when you have class, so the way to answer this is ___ 限、げん, which means [ ___ period].
Club activities usually starts around 1800 and last for two hours, but most of the time, they would hang out for an extra hour before heading home.
Clubs and Societies
Right now I’m in the English Speaking Society, where Japanese students want to learn English from exchange students like myself. I will update this section as the semester goes.
Classes besides Japanese
Don’t worry too much about these to begin with, but you are given a range of classes to take aside from Japanese language. As Okumura sensei was really desperate to have exchange students assist Japanese students with their English proficiency, I took Intercultural Understanding through Images and Language and Communication across Cultures. While these two subjects are taught in English, you’re not only here to learn Japanese, but also to help Japanese students in their English (that’s the whole point of being an exchange student).
I’m also taking 日本事情, which is taught in Japanese. Surprisingly, this is very similar to 97210 Transcultural Communication in Japanese, which I completed last semester at UTS. You get assigned into groups and each week, you discuss about a particular topic. One catch here, each group must have at least one exchange student and considering that there isn’t a lot of them taking this subject, you are very close to being in a class full of Japanese students.
The professor requested me to take his seminar in Regional Social Management and a lecture in Macroeconomics. His reasoning as to why I should be taking his class is relatively simple.
“Japanese Language classes are necessary. But the best way to improve proficiency in Japanese is to do something IN Japanese not FOR Japanese lessons.”
As of this writing, I do feel improvements in Japanese vocabulary for Economics, which is something I clearly did not expect. This seems next to impossible for most people, but I’m doing it and I’ll try my best.
Attendance. This is the most important thing to do as part of your ICS program. You are expected to attend every class (that includes lectures and seminars)and do decently in the assessments provided to you. You may fail the assessments as they are not credited to your degrees. Instead, you are only assessed by the reports you submit to UTS.
Bikes. Not allowed to ride on campus. There are parking stalls at all entrances to the university, but just make sure you lock your bike (mine has a lock on the bike, which you obviously need a key in order to ride it).
Smoking. Forbidden on campus except in the designated smoking “huts”.
Rubbish. There are fewer bins around campus compare to UTS. You are expected to carry your trash to the correct bin and dispose it. Basically, rubbish and recycling in Japan is taken very seriously.
Places to know
Co-op. The せいきょう is one of 4 places on campus to buy lunch. Here, you’ll find stationary, a bookshop, a grillery upstairs, photocopiers, microwaves and flyers for places to go around Japan. I’ve yet to buy food from this place so I’ll update this soon. The Co-op is located next to the main Takeda-douri entrance.
食堂(しょくどう). The university cafeteria which feels like a canteen at an American school. If you have eaten at Mappen, Oiden or Tenko-mori Ramen back in Sydney, the way you order and pay is the same. Pick up a tray, ask for a meal, get sides if you want to, pay at the counter, sit down, eat, return tray for washing, done.
Lawson. Located across Takeda-douri from the Co-op, this is the convenient store that students frequently goes to buy lunch. During lunch break, the place gets really busy. Here, you can also pay your bills for gas, electricity and health insurance.
7 Eleven. Located along the same side as Lawson but further up (across Y-building and heading towards Takeda Shrine). It’s smaller than Lawson, but gives a different range.
ATMs. If you have a Japan Post bank account, there is an ATM just outside the Co-op. If you’re like me and have a Yamanshi Chuo Bank account, the ATM is just outside Lawson.
There is another ATM which is located in 7 Eleven, where this is always open. You can withdraw money from your Australian account, but this depends on your bank.
International Office. 国際交流室 is located on the second floor of the Y-building. Here is where you can ask questions about clubs or admin issues. If you want to talk to the mentor, his office is located on the second floor of B-1 building.