Konnichiwa! Greetings from Japan!
I have been here for two months now, with only three remaining.
Time flies by when you’re surrounded by a lot of amazing people and interesting things.
Now, most people going to Japan from TAMK seem to choose RItsumeikan so you may have already heard stories all about that, but here’s something from Oita.
Firstly, the most important thing: The living environment.
I was assigned to one of the two international dorms here called the Gakuseiryo (Translating literally to Student Dorm) while the other one is called Kishukusha.
They both have their own sides to them, but I must mention that the rent here in Gakuseiryo is about double the amount the students in Kishukusha pay. Even now I do not really know the proper reason, but I think it is because you get your own shower and bathtub. Sounds great right? Well, if you’re the size of a Japanese young man, maybe.
Personally I find it quite inconvenient due to being quite a bit taller than the average Japanese, for the bathtub is quite small and there is not much space in the shower. Not to mention you have to stand in the slippery tub to take a shower. That kind of turned me off at the start to be honest.
Kishukusha has public showers, but hold on, there’s more.
Because this is Japan and they highly value their privacy, the 3-4 shower rooms per floor can all be locked and there is no way anyone could peek into them while you’re in there. So privacy is not an issue. There are no tubs there but they are SO spacious compared to the tiny corner of a tubshower hybrid we have here at Gakuseiryo.
Other than that the rooms are about the same size, BUT the soundproofing at my dorm is far superior to that of the other one.
My neighbor can blast music all day long without bothering me and compared to hearing other people cough through the wall in Kishukusha I would say the soundproofing is really quite something here at Gakuseiryo, not to mention this was quite recently renovated.
The bedsheets, pillow, blanket, all that good stuff had to be rented from an external company for about 60 Euros for 6 months, although that’s quite the small price to pay when you consider it’s there when you arrive and you can leave it there when you leave. That said I heard you can get the same set for half that from a shop but you’ll have to arrange for it to be transferred to the dorm which would include additional fees, and you’d have to throw it away yourself upon leaving. I’m happy with the option they provided.
All I had to do was write my name and room number into an email and it was all arranged for me before I arrived. I paid up later at the office.
There’s also a 24/7 store just down the road, so if you get hungry in the dead of night you can always go and get some snacks, packed lunches, baked goods and even deepfried chicken. That really saved me the first few days when I didn’t know the left from the right not to mention knowing how to supply myself with food in the new environment where everything seemed to be written in an alien language. I got used to that in the first few weeks though, as with everything else pretty much.
That said, I still haven’t quite received that much of a culture ‘shock’ as I’d expected, although I do miss some things I’d say I’ve managed to adopt quite well, of course the credit for that goes to the ever-so-helpfull Japanese folks and my fellow transfer students who had most been here for a whole semester already.
They were kind enough to show me the ropes and they’re all really fun to hang around with. I must admit I had my doubts about that at first but I’m glad everything turned out to be better than expected.
Did I mention most of the western style toilets have electrically warmed seats? Yeah, I’m definitely going to miss those when I return to Finland. Oh, they also have integrated pidet and shower in the toilets for those who are into using them. Technology!
About the studies here, while I heard there would have been something more fitting to my field of study in RItsumeikan, I’m glad I chose Oita because the courses here are mostly the things I wanted to study about anyway; The language, culture and history of Japan.
We also have classes about the affairs in the EU so there’s something I can contribute to.
The Japanese books were quite expensive, around a hundred Euros for the workbook and textbook together if I recall correctly, but it’s a single-time purchase unless you happen to lose them.
There’s a ton of places to eat out nearby and a supermarket or two right in the walking distance.
While I’m not really a friend of fish myself, the Sushi restaurant offers a selection of things that are precisely for us like fried chicken, octopus, squid, even fries and ice cream.
You order it all on the screen and it comes up to you on a conveyor belt. They count the cost of your meal by the coded plates you’ll have piled up at the end of the meal.
There’s a few local bars, pubs and clubs that the transfer students frequent in the city as well. A trip to the city costs about 2 Euros by train and only takes about 15 minutes.
To anyone considering coming to Japan for their exchange, I’d recommend Oita.
The other university is on a high hill as well, so you won’t be leaving it often mostly due to the effort of having to walk all the way down the rounded road to get anywhere.
At least that’s what I heard from one of the guys who was staying there that I met on the beach the other day.
The sun is also quite strong here compared to Finland, burned me to crisp but that’s what I get for underestimating it in the first place.
You should be fine with the strong suncreen you can get at some of the shops here. Alas I had none at the time but don’t you make the same mistake.
In a nutshell, it’s been well worth the trip coming here. My only regret so far is that I’ve only three months left to enjoy my time here, but that just means I’ve got to make the best of it.