Preparing to Come
1. What kinds of medicines can I NOT bring into Japan?
Many prescription medicines, and even some medicines sold over-the-counter in other countries have never been approved by the Japanese medical authorities and are therefore illegal in Japan. A common source of trouble is with medicines for allergies such as asthma. Please check with the nearest Japanese consulate before you leave your country.
2. What should I do if I don’t know any Japanese?
It is absolutely imperative that you at least learn the phonetic writing systems of hiragana and katakana before you come to Japan. The beginning Japanese language text book is written entirely in Japanese and assumes that you know the above two systems of writing. If you don’t have access to appropriate learning materials to teach you hiragana and katakana, you can contact the program (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can send you some.
3. What is the dorm like?
The all-female dormitory on campus, Ampelos, has 320 single rooms, each with a toilet, bath room, bed, desk, telephone, chair, air-conditioner and heater, and a hot plate and very small counter. Besides the cafeteria, the other facilities include a coin-laundry, lounge, and computer room. The curfew for the residents is 10:30 p.m. (with a final curfew of midnight), and visitors are not allowed.
Foreign student residents of the dorm in the past have praised the experience as an excellent way to interact with the Japanese students of the college and practice their Japanese in a close, Japanese-language environment.
The male dormitory, Heiwa, is a two-story building with 12 suites. Each students resides in a private room with an air conditioner, futon, desk, and chair. Common spaces are divided among 2-3 students each, with living rooms, kitchens, refrigerators, washing machines, and bathrooms in each suite.
4. What is a home stay like?
Home stays are with families in Nagasaki who live in apartments, condominiums, or houses. As you can imagine, the conditions in each home stay vary widely. Some of the host families live near the college and other live the other side of town requiring as much as an hour’s commute. Some of the host families have small children, some are older and retired, and some are single parents. Most spend a lot of time and attention on their students, but some are rather busy. Some place restrictions on their student similar to those above for the dorm residents, and some are more lax. However, all the host families are hosting students because they hope to introduce aspects of Japanese culture to you and they also hope you will be earnest in trying to learn to speak Japanese.
5. How can I pay my outstanding fees?
Those of you with outstanding fees will be notified of such on an invoice sent from Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies before you arrive. The invoice will contain information on sending your outstanding fees before you arrive by bank transfer. Please note the deadlines on the invoices and note that you will not be allowed to either register for or attend any classes until your fees are paid in full.
6. What about having money sent to me while I am in Japan?
The best way for you to have money sent to you is a tricky issue depending on lots of variables such as the country of origin and your particular type of credit or debit card. Two ways of sending money to Japan that are impractical are by sending personal or cashier’s checks or by bank transfer. Checks can take 4 to 6 weeks to cash as they are physically sent to and back from the issuing bank, incurring fees along the way. Bank transfers are relatively quick, around 3 days, but incur at least a 5,000 yen fee on the receiving (Japanese) end in addition to the fees levied on the sending end.
Getting a cash advance on a major credit card and having your parents pay the bill on their end when it arrives is the most efficient way to get money, that is, when it works. Most foreign credit cards, and some debit cards, work at ATMs located at Japanese Post Office branches or at Seven Eleven convenience stores, one of which is within walking distance of the campus. However, please be aware that there are often restrictions of the use of credit and debit cards, such as a maximum of 5,000 yen per transaction. A small number of students have found that their credit or debit cards simply do not work for cash advances.
7. How much money will I need to live on?
Of course, this varies greatly between people depending on their lifestyle. A rule of thumb is that you will not be able to survive on less than 3,000 to 5,000 yen per week, and that is if you live in the dorm or a home stay near enough to walk to the college and you don’t go anywhere or buy anything. A much more realistic figure is 12,000 to 15,000 yen per week. Add more if you intend to socialize or travel, both of which are expensive in Japan.
8. Will some of the classes not fill and not be offered?
There is a very small possibility that a class may not fill and may be cancelled. Due to the relatively small number of classes offered, the cancellation of a class is very rare.
9. Can I travel during term time?
Yes, you can. However, since the university is sponsoring your visa, the college is required to know your whereabouts at any given time. If you plan to travel outside of Nagasaki Prefecture, you must notify the International Center of your intention to travel before you depart.
10. How long can I stay in Nagasaki after the term is finished?
Per program regulations, you are required to leave Japan within two weeks fo the end of the program.
11. What about traveling in Japan after the term is finished?
By far the most popular tourist destination in Japan is the city of Kyoto near Osaka, the political, cultural and religious capital of Japan for over a thousand years. Nara, also near Osaka, and Tokyo rate high on tourist lists as well. Because it would be difficult, in terms of time and money, to visit these places during the term time, it would be best to plan a trip there either before the term begins or after it is finished.
One option may be to visit these places on your way back home. If your international flights enters Japan through Kansai International Airport in Osaka, or if it enters through Narita International Airport in Tokyo, you could forego the Fukuoka to Kansai or Narita portion of your flight, travel up there by ground transportation, and catch the international portion of your flight from Kansai or Narita. This would save you the necessity of returning to Fukuoka to begin your journey. Check you options carefully with your travel agent.
12. If I stay two terms, what can I do between terms?
The Program will assist you in making accommodation arrangements, a home stay or dorm stay, if possible, for the time between terms. Such accommodation will be billed separately.
13. When is the national Japanese Proficiency Test (nihongo noryoku shiken)?
The official Japanese Proficiency Test is given twice a year, in July and in early December. Five tests are offered, from Level 5 (the lowest) to Level 1 (the highest).
14. What about bringing electrical appliances to Japan?
The electric current in Western Japan is 110 volts and the plugs used here are the small, two-pronged type, the same as the kind used in North America. Since most electrical appliances are designed to operate in a range of voltages, devices designed for 100 to 120 volts seem to work OK at the Japanese 110 volts. However, devices that generate heat, such as hair dryers and contact disinfectors, tend to burn out after a while. As you might well imagine, most every kind of electrical appliance is available in Japan and it may be your best bet to purchase necessary devices after you arrive in Japan. Interface devices that connect to other larger devices, such as the cord that includes a current converter that is used to recharge your laptop computer, can also be purchased here which will convert the 100 volt current to whatever your larger device needs.
The Japanese use a two-pronged plug very similar to the American one. However, few outlets have one slot larger than the other as some plugs require, and none of them have the third grounding plug. Therefore, it would be a good idea to bring some three-to-two prong converters, and try to find ones that have the two prongs the same size.
15. Should I bring my laptop computer?
Most students who own a laptop computer bring it to Japan. It is not necessary to use your laptop at the university since there is easy access to the many computers on the campus. You can access the university’s network and the Internet wirelessly from several locations. Note that you will need to prove that you have name-brand and licensed anti-virus software installed on your computer. A laptop would allow you to work at home since your host family may not have a computer, or it may it may not be convenient to use their computer.
16. What is the computer situation at the university?
The university has two large Computer Assisted Instruction (CIA) laboratories, which are open to student use whenever there is not a computer class being conducted in the room. The rooms are always available for a few minutes before classes begin in the morning, and for a few hours after classes in the evening. In addition to these two rooms, there are two other computer stations, with a small number of terminals, continually open to student use.
There is wireless connectivity throughout campus. A sign-up process is necessary before access is granted and one of the requirementsis that the computer have name-brand or proven anti-virus software intalled.
NOTE: The university’s Internet connection is intended for academic research and communication with your family and home university. Use of the univesity’s Internet connection for other server-intensive activites is prohibited.
17. What are Conversation Partners?
In order to give you practice speaking Japanese, you will be given the opportunity to work with a Conversation Partner who is a volunteer from among the Japanese students at the college. Students typically meet with their partners once a week for an hour. In return you should spend an equal amount of time helping the Japanese student learn your language. What you do during your time with your partner is basically up to you, but activities range from free conversation to asking them to drill you on exercises from your texts to talking about aspects of Japanese culture. Though the students are neither teachers nor experts on Japanese grammar, they may be able to help you with questions you might have concerning your Japanese studies.
18. What is Independent Study?
Independent Study is a way for students to pursue their study on a topic that is not covered in the curriculum of the Program. Students choose Independent Study because they have a keen interest in some aspect of Japan. The range of topics, however is limited to faculty expertise. If you are thinking of Independent Study, be sure to contact the Program about the possibilities well before your arrival in Nagasaki.
The basic pattern is for the student to meet with their faculty advisor three times during the term, once to set out the course of study, once to review an outline of the research paper or project, and once to discuss the instructor’s evaluation of the paper or project. This pattern may change at the discretion of the instructor depending on the nature of the study.
19. What kind of extracurricular activities are there at the college?
The way extracurricular activities at Japanese universities are conducted resemble the systems at European institutions of higher education; in other words, the activities are initiated by the students themselves. Therefore, the activities offered from year to year vary depending on who organizes them. As students of the college, foreign students may organize clubs as well. However, in order to qualify for the financial support which is available to clubs, they must be organized at the beginning of the academic year, April, and must respect the deadline for application and the proper application procedure.