Preparations & Applications: My Journey to Japan
In just under a week I will be travelling to Tokyo to study at Sophia University for one semester. It has been a long and arduous process but it will soon all be worth it! This blog will be used to track my journey as I experience Japan for the first time.
In terms of the application process it was quite full-on. I had to get reference checks from previous UTS academics who had tutored/lectured me, health checks and also fill out various application forms. Although thankfully Sophia University offers several options for Student Accommodation which made applying for accommodation super simple.
Unlike many other universities, Sophia University only opens up enrollment a few weeks before the actual commencement of the semester. This has made it slightly difficult to plan out exactly which subjects are offered and to work out timetabling etc. however they have been very helpful in replying to all my questions very quickly.
Unfortunately the exchange process for many Japanese Universities takes a particularly long time. After submitting the application forms I didn’t hear back from them until several months later which made it difficult to know whether I should be booking flights or getting a VISA. In terms of flights, I bought them before receiving my official acceptance because the prices were getting more and more expensive every day. I do recommend however that you purchase refundable tickets or are prepared to lose your money if you choose this approach – although it is highly unlikely that the host university will reject you, it is still possible. Regarding the VISA you cannot even apply for a Japanese Student VISA until you have obtained a ‘Certificate of Eligibility’ which is provided to you once you receive your full acceptance. Therefore you have to quickly apply for your VISA after receiving the acceptance to ensure there’s enough time to process it.
For travel I haven’t planned too much in advance. Of course there are definitely plans to go to Disneyland, the Pokemon Centre, Shinjuku and Akihabara in Tokyo, and then also to travel to Kyoto, Osaka and Mt. Fuji, but other than that I believe most of my travelling will be a spur of the moment thing.
Given that I haven’t actually gone to Japan yet I cannot really provide any tips or recommendations yet, but will be sure to post some advice as well as pictures once I arrive!
I visited Japan for the first time this summer and absolutely loved it – there’s just so much to see and do! I’d definitely recommend venturing to the national parks while you’re out there as they’re just stunning – Matsumoto is a good base for this (about 3 hours or so west of Tokyo).