The facilities at Sophia University are nice, the area surrounding is lovely too. If you go on exchange for the Autumn semester at UTS (Spring in Japan), you will get to see the cherry blossoms, which are stunning. The campus itself in Yotsuya is big and easy enough to find your classrooms. There are a few cafeterias which have plenty of available options but is open in a very small time frame so can get busy.
The teaching style does depend on the classes/faculty that you are enrolled in. For Faculty of Liberal Arts, there are plenty of contact hours, a lot of homework and quizzes every few days. In my subject selection, I have chosen to take the Intensive Language track for Japanese, meeting Monday-Friday from 9am-12.30pm, it is more of a workshop style class (neither a tutorial nor lecture). I have been studying Japanese at UTS for 2 years, but it’s been good to practice it in the country. It has been fun meeting a lot of people from a few different backgrounds.
The orientation at Sophia was brief, but a lot of things you should be working out yourself anyway. They put you in contact with a buddy before you arrive. Mine was friendly, spoke English and was happy to show me around and explain things to me. Try to make friends and get to know everyone in your dorm/classes, that’s how I found out about events happening, enrollment procedures etc.
I’m living at Soshigaya International House, which is a partner dormitory of Sophia. I highly recommend it, as there is a mix of international and domestic students. There is a great opportunity to practice languages and meet people from all over the world. It’s been a lot of fun so far. You can get to Sophia University in about an hour, as expected, the train system is super-efficient (departing every 2-3 minutes) but in peak hour, trains arrive with people’s coats poking out the doors because they’ve been packed in so tightly.
Tokyo is a great city and very safe, though as you would probably expect, it is expensive. Your biggest expenses will be in the first weeks when you are settling in and purchasing things like cookware and commuter passes. If you are sensible about your money (prepare food rather than always eating out, schedule any payments and restrict your daily spending) you can manage.
Before I left, I joined ING Banking, which has been great. Surprisingly a lot of Tokyo still seems to prefer cash payments, but with ING you can pay internationally with no additional fees and use ATMs. I know some other exchange students using CitiBank which offers a similar service.
Bachelor of Management
Australian Government New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient.
For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au