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Academics and Life in Tokyo

Hi all! My name is Kelvin, and I’ve been enjoying my exchange experience here at Chuo University’s Tama campus, which takes an hour and half west by train from the city centre. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my personal experiences with the academic life here, and some of the things at Chuo that I encountered during the last month and thought was interesting.

Let’s talk about my academic life. As part of the exchange program, I was required to take at least 8 subjects that had relevance to my International Studies major: the subjects being Japanese Economic History, Sociology, History, Environmental Studies, and a collection of lectures and tutorials called ‘Global Series’. A weekday would be structured into 6 periods, with each period lasting 100 minutes, and a 10 minute break between each period.

Given that I had learnt from my studies at UTS and heard from my friends that society in Japan is harsher and more serious than it is in Australia, my impression so far was that most of the classes were surprisingly not as difficult and content-heavy as it was in UTS; homework were usually very short tasks (such as writing about the insights gained and thoughts regarding a lecture), teachers had relaxed standards when assessing assignments, and group work consisted of mostly verbal discussion. However, this might be because the faculty I was enrolled in, the Faculty of Global Management, have 90% of their classes taught in English regardless of if you were a Japanese student or an international student. As such, the standards were probably set lower so that Japanese students could understand and pass the subject.

The views of Chuo University during cherry blossom season.

As for facilities, the majority of the classrooms at Chuo University are relatively archaic; many of the rooms are only equipped with a basic projector, TV trolleys with DVD players and a chalkboard. This is in comparison with UTS, where buildings are visually more spectacular and newer, and where the classrooms use newer technology systems to support learning – an example being the bookable group meeting/study pods in Building 2 where students could project and share their content and charge their devices. On the other hand, I would say that the natural scenery within Chuo’s campus was beautiful, especially when the cherry blossoms were blooming. A big difference between Chuo and UTS was the amount of land assigned for student societies (referred to as ‘circles‘) and sport club activities; there were more than 200 student societies and clubs at Chuo University.

One of my highlights so far was joining a circle. If you exchange at a Japanese university, I will definitely recommend joining circles, whether it is something that you are familiar with or something that is completely new; It really is an excellent way to make new friends, practice your Japanese, and learn more about Japanese culture.

Which reminds me of a memorable incident; During the first week of semester, I had thought circles and clubs were the same thing… and oh boy, I was wrong. I happened to participate in a sport club‘s trial event without knowing the difference between the two, and the first thing the club president said to all the newcomers was “Members will be required to come here and practice from 6pm on the dot, 5 days a week. Otherwise, you will be kicked out”. So, here are my two cents. If you are looking to have fun and make friends while not having to commit too much, please join a CIRCLE (サークル) and not a CLUB(ぶかつ・部活)

Hanging out with friends after circle activities.

Oh right, the food! Future Chuo students, you’ll be in for a treat. There is a four-storey school cafeteria on campus dedicated for Japanese food- with each storey being around the same size of Alumni Green. Ramen, rice bowls (don), set meals (tei-shoku), bread, udon, sushi… you name it, they’ll probably have it. I heard from someone that Chuo’s cafeteria was ranked in the top 5 of all school cafeterias in Japan, so if you happen to exchange at Chuo, expect exceptional Japanese food at very affordable prices (you’re looking at $6-8 AUD) and a menu that changes almost on a weekly basis, just because they can.. and to you know…keep things interesting.

But anyways, enough talking… here are some photos of the food I’ve had at this cafeteria.

Food that you can find at Chuo University’s school cafeteria.

And so, I would like to end this blog post. It was fun digging through the last months’ worth of photos and typing this out. I hope it was informational for some of you! Please contact me if you have any questions regarding exchange, and stay tuned for the next blog post where I’ll be talking about where I live, and some things that I wished I knew before starting my exchange.

Until next time!

Kelvin Jia Yu Huang

Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) majoring in Software Engineering/ Bachelor of International Studies

Global Exchange Student at Chuo University, Japan

New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant Recipient

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