いちご☆ブラスト (ichigo_blast) wrote in study_in_japan,

I'm leaving in almost one month!

Hello everyone!

I will be studying abroad in Japan from April to August. My school is Sophia University (上智大学) in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, but I will be living in Warabi City, Saitama. Long commute.

My family and I need some advice. I've never really been out of the States, let alone Japan.

1. What should I do about banks/atm cards? I have Bank of America, which has a horrible withdrawal fee ($5) and unreliable service. If I get a Japanese bank account, will my parents be able to transfer money into it from the states? Will I be able to get a Japanese credit or debit card?

2. Contact with my parents. My cell phone won't work, and I don't really want to rent one just to call my parents every few weeks. I got Skype, but I still need to figure it out completely (and my parents are bad with computers). Suggestions?

3. What's the best way to get yen? I definitely need some cash on me almost immediately after I arrive. I heard it's better to wait till you get there to do it though... But how?

Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated. :)
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Whew that is a long commute. Mine was around 90 minutes when I lived in Japan (Tokyo to Kanagawa).

1. I ended up not getting a bank account. I just used the postal service ATMs (which were everywhere) to access my account using my Bank of America card. This probably isn't the best option..but after a few months I just got lazy and decided it wasn't worth the hassle making a new bank account. I never had any problems with it.
I don't think you'll be able to get a Japanese credit card without long term residency (I'm not 100% sure about this though). A debit card would be okay.

2. Hahaha my parents are the same! We got Skype but whenever my parents tried to use it they would just get frustrated. I think part of the problem was they bought the headset and it kept messing up or something like that... Eventually they gave up and started calling my Japanese cell phone. We communicated mostly through email.
Hopefully, you'll have better luck with your parents.

3. I think any regular bank can do a currency exchange. I did that before I left so I had plenty of yen on hand for when I got there. Any airport will have a currency exchange center.

I hope this was at least partially helpful.
1. I was thinking of getting another account here, like Citibank, so I don't have to worry about getting charged $5 for every withdrawal I make.

Thank you for your reply, it was indeed helpful.
Ooo time is getting closer!!!
I'm studying abroad next year, spring semester. I'm not sure where I'm going yet, but Sophia was on my list. The only drawback I saw was because I'm going only for a semester, I'd have to be with a homestay family (don't get me wrong, that's totally amazing, it's just not what I want right now (I'm looking for independence)). Is that what you're doing? Are you nervous/excited?
I'm so excited for you~ first trip overseas! You're going to have so much fun!
I haven't been outside the states outside of Canada and am uber excited to go to Japan.
My school offers study abroad for two schools in Japan, Sophia or Doshisha women's college in Kyoto.

That's odd they won't let you live anywhere else. I'm only going for one semester and they gave me the choice of living with a family or one of several apartments (all of which are about an hour away from my school). I ended up with DK House:
I didn't want a homestay family either, so I totally understand.

Housing choices:
Oh, that's uplifting news! In the catalogue I have, it says nothing about the apartment option at Sophia. Thanks for the info. Were you able to choose which apartment building or did they just assign it to you? It looks super cute!

I currently commute about an hour and 15 minutes to my school from my parents house. I'm assuming you live on campus at your school now? Looks like you'll still get the social aspect of living in a dorm, at least by the pictures on the Warabi website. Commuting for me was fun for the first semester or so, and Japanese transportation is supposed to be amazing, which I'm sure you already know. I'm going to school in Boston, and public transport is shoot-me-in-the-face unreliable. Plus it's fun to people watch.
Yes, I live on campus now. My school is small and it takes about 25-30 minutes to walk from one end of campus to the other. Freshman year I had a classroom in the building right next to my dorm, literally a one minute walk! I've never had to really rely on public transportation so I'm a bit nervous due to my lack of experience, especially since it's a whole different country. ^^; But I'm excited! I'm most concerned about morning rush hour, because I want to take this 9:30 a.m. class.... Ugh.

As far as housing choices, I had to number each place (1-6 I believe) in order of preference. Honestly, I can't remember my choice for DK House Warabi, but it was likely high because of the no curfew. Those buildings have strict rules (curfews, no overnight guests, must inform them of long trips), but I guess that comes with the package. We have a lot of freedom at my school.

lulz, guess what? Mine is smaller. It takes... maybe like 5-10 minutes from one end to the other. Though I know what you mean. There are schools that are literally their own town 0_0
Not gonna lie, I am jealous of that one-minute commute.
For the public transport, the signs are all in English, so that should help. Plus, it's been said you can set your clock to the trains, so they should be reliable as far as time, plus they are supposed to be very clean. I have heard it gets crowded during rush hour... so I'd expect to stand. Sounds like you're more of a night owl like me (aka, not a morning person). What class is it?? What else are you taking? What are you studying anyway (your major, I mean)?

Yeah, it sounds strict, though it's nice of them to care where their tenants are I guess. Any idea what time curfew is?

I have a question about the admissions process (I may be applying to Sophia). How soon after applying did you receive an acceptance letter? Was it before other people in your school were registering for classes? Do you happen to know the percentage of people accepted? I'm kind of worried about the whole thing...
The class I want to take is intensive Japanese.. It's 3 hours long every morning. My major is English, so I'll probably take a Japanese fiction or poetry class. Besides that, I'll probably take some filler classes like religion, philosophy, etc. I heard that Japanese courses require less work. The Japanese exchange student at my school complains that there is so much homework in the U.S.!

Curfew is usually midnight. No need to worry about that at DK House, yay. I think it's too early.. Well, for weekends at least.

My school gave me the admission forms in September. They were due in October, and I believe I got word of my acceptance the next month. So yes, I heard of my acceptance before registration. However, it was REALLY close and I was sort of freaking out. My friend who also applied to Sophia made out a backup schedule on the off chance she wasn't accepted. I just kind of banked on getting in, lol. If I was rejected, I'd probably apply to a school in South Korea who would definitely accept me.

Four people from my school applied. Originally Sophia said they'd only take 3, but they decided to accept all four of us in the end. Usually only one or two people from our school apply to go there, which is why it was quite rare for four to apply. I think that's a record, haha. But I don't know about the acceptance rate for other schools, sorry...
I'll try to answer any other questions you have. ^^
Thanks for replying. Sorry I fell off the face of LJ for a bit. I had posted when I was on Spring Break, and since then I've been pounded by homework -_- I hope you're right about the less work thing xP

I'm glad you got in! I'm honestly very worried about getting accepted, and I'm making a backup schedule like your friend... just in case. Because I really don't want to be stuck in America. No offense to America, but 20 years in one place is a long time.