Doshisha: First Week of Classes and Clubs

This first week has been pretty hectic. I have classes in Kyoto, where I live, and Kyotanabe, an hour and a half away, so everyday is packed. I’m also looking into circles to join. Circles are the Japanese equivalent of clubs in America, and clubs are the equivalent of a varsity sports. There are so many interesting circles that I was hoping to join, but coming here, I found out that many students don’t speak English so you can’t really join just any circle.

A few days before school began, there was bunch of recruitment on campus for clubs and circles. I don’t look too far off from a typical Japanese college girl so people treated me as if I knew Japanese. That was mildly frustrating since that meant I had no idea what they were saying, but also quite nice since they approached me much more easily than the other ryuugakusei. Fortunately, only one circle denied me because of my lack of Japanese ability. I’m sticking to tennis and dance circles since I wouldn’t need too much guidance in those activities– I don’t know how I would fare in any of the other circles.

Doshisha Circle Performance

Oddly enough, this was a recruitment skit for a large and popular tennis circle on campus: DTLA

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Doshisha: Registering for Classes


LUNCH IS HELLA CHEAP. YES. This is my friend’s lunch of only 536 yen… but 95% of the food is non-vegetarian friendly ::cries::

There are many programs at Doshisha for foreign students. I will specifically be speaking about the nichibun program that is reserved for short-term exchange students, which all UCEAP students fall under. Though the UCEAP application had said that coming to Doshisha requires no Japanese language ability, it would have been useful to know that there is very little support for English speakers. I ran into many difficulties registering for classes because all of information was given to us in Japanese (probably… honestly, I still don’t know what they said). This post is about:

  1. Japanese Courses
  2. Difficulties with Elective Course
  3. Elective Course Selection
  4. One Important Tip

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Finding a Homestay in Kyoto

the demonic cuties that I live with in Japan: Mikke-chan and Sakura-chan

With the UCEAP program to study abroad at Doshisha, I was given only foreign student dormitories to choose from for housing. They are extremely cheap, but considering that I am only here for 5-6 months, I wanted something more immersive. Also, I really dig the Washitsu aesthetic. None of the rooms from the dorms were tatami mat. The last two things to push me into having to find my own housing was: I wanted to be able to have overnight guests (I have friends who are visiting me), and I missed the deadline for applying for housing. Hehe.

I found a variety of options and sites to be quite useful:

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Cheap Japanese Data Cellphone Plan (IIJMIO)

** Anything marked with an asterisk is accompanied by a disclaimer that I have no Japanese knowledge and therefore cannot read any of the websites. I am making guesses based on a variety of different translation means. 


I am paying 900 yen (less than 9 USD) per month for 6 GB of high speed data. Wow. So cheap.

Being the millennial that I am, I spent by far, the most amount of time researching phone plans (see sources for link to where I found the service I chose). I am quite cheap when it comes to things that aren’t exciting, but still essential. I don’t know if I found the best plan in general, but with the deal that they are offering, it definitely is the best for me! If you’d rather skip the hassle, other friends went to the BIC Camera Store and had it done in person, super quick and easy. If you like the struggle, read on.

Let’s get down to it. It was a arduous process, but only because my Japanese is nonexistant. I tested into the 0th level, which doesn’t exist in my program, they created it for the 6 of us from the UCEAP program who couldn’t even test into the lowest level they offer.

I got the BIC SIM (partnered with IIJIMIO). The plan is under a current promotion where the data is doubled for 6 months (*once you start it between 2017/2/16 ~2017/5/7). Perfect for me who is only here for 5 months.

Things to note:

  • All official instructions are in Japanese
  • You need a credit card in your name, it can definitely be international
  • If you want voice enabled, the minimum is 6 months
  • Your sim will be delivered, you must be present to accept the package
  • You will need wifi to set up your sim once you get it
  • You can pick to use Docomo or AU service, check what your phone supports
  • Service for me did not start until the 1st of the month, though they gave me some data coupons to use for the few days I had before that kicked in.
    • I registered super late in March and service started in April. I don’t know what would happen if you register April 2 or 3.

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Flying to Japan?

Advice #1: Choose ANA (All Nippon Airways)

The food on ANA was bomb! Two meals. Bunches of tea. Was so nice. I even got Haagen-daaz ice-cream.


Advice #2: Call the airline about your dietary restrictions.

If you’re vegetarian, you should call them at least a week in advance. As amazing as the food was, I forgot to tell them I am vegetarian until the day before. Sadly, all my food had meat in it. So I didn’t eat. But I did take pictures! Hahaha.

Advice #3: Book extra leg room if you are tall or normal height, even.

I usually never notice the leg space in a plane, because I am tiny. But even I noticed how little leg space there was. Considering I was on a Japanese airline flight, I completely understand. Please be prepared.

Advice #4: Try not to have a domestic layover.

If you have a domestic layover, you’ll need to retrieve your bags and recheck them.

Advice #5: Try not to have an overnight layover in Fukuoka.

You’ll get kicked out of the airport, so you’ll have to find a place to sleep. I slept at an internet cafe: Media Cafe Popeye.

Advice #6: Watch the anime movies on the flight.

I watched In This Corner of the WorldIt was so beautiful. I cried like a baby.

Advice #7: If you arrive domestic at KIX, go downstairs.

Everything at KIX is downstairs (international arrivals), including the luggage delivery, buses, phone plans, prepaid sim cards.