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  • Exchange - Keio Waseda or Kyoto

    Hi guys,

    I will be going on a one year exchange to Japan next year as part of my university degree. My main aim is to improve my Japanese language proficiency (hopefully to N1, or at the very least N2 level) - I have studied Japanese through high school and through to the "professional" level offered at my university. I will be applying for the intensive language courses at one of these three universities: Keio, Waseda or Kyoto, and I'm really having trouble deciding my order of preference.

    I was just wondering if anyone has any recommendations in regards to teaching ability, student life, immersion in Japanese culture, ability to travel, explore Japan during this one year? In particular, whether you would recommend study in Tokyo or Kyoto areas - or perhaps even a specific university! I have been to both cities a couple of times before, just hoping for a bit of personal experience from members here. I realise that one year is not a long time in the scheme of things, but I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to improve my Japanese and really explore as much of Japan as I can. Any advice or information would be much appreciated! ^_^

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Best wishes.....

    Hi..

    Dear,

    this is a good news...

    i hv also interest in japanese language & culture and to study in japan.

    did you get any scholarship or it's a private school?
    from where you got that chance?

    kindly reply....



    warm regards!!!

    Originally posted by superhat View Post
    Hi guys,

    I will be going on a one year exchange to Japan next year as part of my university degree. My main aim is to improve my Japanese language proficiency (hopefully to N1, or at the very least N2 level) - I have studied Japanese through high school and through to the "professional" level offered at my university. I will be applying for the intensive language courses at one of these three universities: Keio, Waseda or Kyoto, and I'm really having trouble deciding my order of preference.

    I was just wondering if anyone has any recommendations in regards to teaching ability, student life, immersion in Japanese culture, ability to travel, explore Japan during this one year? In particular, whether you would recommend study in Tokyo or Kyoto areas - or perhaps even a specific university! I have been to both cities a couple of times before, just hoping for a bit of personal experience from members here. I realise that one year is not a long time in the scheme of things, but I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to improve my Japanese and really explore as much of Japan as I can. Any advice or information would be much appreciated! ^_^

    Thanks!

    Comment


    • #3
      If you mean Kyoto University proper, it is heads and tales above the other 2, which are only private universities, but I do wonder if Kyoto has much of a Japanese language programme, and I would also warn that students there might be much less inclined to make friends and include you in their activities.

      In that sense, Keio or Waseda would probably have better organised language programmes and a larger numer of students that might be more intersted and inclined to take an exchange student under their wings.

      Kyoto is a nicer, mellower city to live in, but it has no Fuyajo (City that never sleeps) vibe like Tokyo, and the nightlife seems pretty dead these days.


      So, Kyoto for pure academic prestige, and the others for fun, inclusion, and study.

      Comment


      • #4
        i agree. kyoto if you'd like to actually learn. waseda/keio if you want to enjoy nightlife/meet members of the opposite sex for happy time.

        there are way too many foreigners living in tokyo and attending waseda/keio and you'll always be going back to english as your fall back which is horrible for progressing your japanese. also, the temptation for partying in tokyo is way too strong. i'd say the smart move would be kyoto.

        but.... as i said, for happy time, tokyo. lolol

        Comment


        • #5
          @mrsakura5 I'm at a uni in Sydney taking an International Studies course, so 1 year exchange is a part of my degree ^^

          @kurogane, @wasedachris Really appreciate the input guys! I was wondering if anyone knows anyone who has taken a language program at Waseda or Kyoto Uni? Exchange advisers at my uni tell me both unis have language programs available, but any personal (or related) experiences would be awesome to hear!

          Also, I have had a look around their websites and Waseda seems a bit better geared towards international students; I can't find any detailed info regarding Kyoto Uni's program at all! However, with some previous experience studying Japanese, and from a language learning standpoint, would you guys still recommend Kyoto Uni?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by superhat View Post
            Also, I have had a look around their websites and Waseda seems a bit better geared towards international students; I can't find any detailed info regarding Kyoto Uni's program at all! However, with some previous experience studying Japanese, and from a language learning standpoint, would you guys still recommend Kyoto Uni?
            Hey, Soophat,

            Now as a clarification:

            are you absolutely sure "Kyoto University" is the Kyoto option, or is it another university in Kyoto, such as Kyoto Sangyo University, or Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, or some such???


            The reason I ask is that the other 2 options (Waseda & Keio) are lower rank private unis, whereas Kyoto U is the absomalootist tits of all Jpn unis, so the rank of options seem a touch wonky.

            So, anyways, confirm that when you get a chance.



            Now, as for Kyoto's Japanese language programme, I would not to be too surprised at all to find out it is such a low priority, both on their website and in the university curriculum.

            They use exchange programmes like yours to show how "international" and "progressive" they are. They really couldn't give three old cow's tits about that stuff.

            I was there from 96-99, but I was on the Monbusho Research Fellowship, and already had proper Japanese, so I was forgiven the intensive Jpn language training. My friends on the fellowship programme were not at all impressed with the curricula or instructors on the language programme.

            Also, keep in mind, that was back when you were probably in diapers, so things might have changed; I simply don't know.

            So,........................that is my evaluation of Kyoto U's situation.

            Like I said above, the other 2 are probably more geared to short term exchange students, but they are in Tokyo, and as WasedaChris noted, it is Party Town.



            The way to make Kyoto work would be to accept that their language programme might not be nearly as polished as those of Waseda or Keio, but you will be at Japan's most prestigious university, and there will be students and clubs and activities you can join, and if you study your arrse off, you will learn Japanese at any rate. If you have any sort of interest to proceed to postgraduate academic or professional studies using your Japanese specific skills and knowledge writing Kyoto University on any resume or application is like an imperial imprimatur. It means you did what only 0.08% of Japanese have ever done.


            Kyoto is also, IHOMO, a much nicer city to live in than the festering sewer that is Tokyo. You can cycle everywhere in the city proper, there is tons of outdoor and outside activities, sports, etc.

            The nightlife is a bit limited, or so the Tokyo kidz tell me, but there is the best bar in the history of Japan right downtown, and that makes up for it, for me anyways.
            Last edited by kurogane; 2012-04-18, 12:21 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by kurogane View Post
              Hey, Soophat,

              Now as a clarification:

              are you absolutely sure "Kyoto University" is the Kyoto option, or is it another university in Kyoto, such as Kyoto Sangyo University, or Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, or some such???


              The reason I ask is that the other 2 options (Waseda & Keio) are lower rank private unis, whereas Kyoto U is the absomalootist tits of all Jpn unis, so the rank of options seem a touch wonky.

              So, anyways, confirm that when you get a chance.



              Now, as for Kyoto's Japanese language programme, I would not to be too surprised at all to find out it is such a low priority, both on their website and in the university curriculum.

              They use exchange programmes like yours to show how "international" and "progressive" they are. They really couldn't give three old cow's tits about that stuff.

              I was there from 96-99, but I was on the Monbusho Research Fellowship, and already had proper Japanese, so I was forgiven the intensive Jpn language training. My friends on the fellowship programme were not at all impressed with the curricula or instructors on the language programme.

              Also, keep in mind, that was back when you were probably in diapers, so things might have changed; I simply don't know.

              So,........................that is my evaluation of Kyoto U's situation.

              Like I said above, the other 2 are probably more geared to short term exchange students, but they are in Tokyo, and as WasedaChris noted, it is Party Town.



              The way to make Kyoto work would be to accept that their language programme might not be nearly as polished as those of Waseda or Keio, but you will be at Japan's most prestigious university, and there will be students and clubs and activities you can join, and if you study your arrse off, you will learn Japanese at any rate. If you have any sort of interest to proceed to postgraduate academic or professional studies using your Japanese specific skills and knowledge writing Kyoto University on any resume or application is like an imperial imprimatur. It means you did what only 0.08% of Japanese have ever done.


              Kyoto is also, IHOMO, a much nicer city to live in than the festering sewer that is Tokyo. You can cycle everywhere in the city proper, there is tons of outdoor and outside activities, sports, etc.

              The nightlife is a bit limited, or so the Tokyo kidz tell me, but there is the best bar in the history of Japan right downtown, and that makes up for it, for me anyways.

              Hey kurogane, I have checked, it is Kyoto Uni proper! Yeah, my uni has exchange agreements with quite a lot of unis in Japan, I just pretty much narrowed it down to these three as my top preferences, pretty much for the reasons you listed above. I'm still really just tossing up between spending a year in Kyoto for its sheer awesomeness (tourist yay!), or Waseda for the seemingly better prepared language program. I know its really up to me in the end, but I really do appreciate the input. Thanks!!

              Also, I was wondering.. from experience, would you say I am more likely to improve my Japanese in a uni language program in general, or from interaction with people around Japan during a 1 year stay? Mainly just wondering because if Kyoto's language program is..less structured, this might not be of such importance in terms of improving my Japanese.
              Last edited by superhat; 2012-04-18, 05:42 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by superhat View Post
                Also, I was wondering.. from experience, would you say I am more likely to improve my Japanese in a uni language program in general, or from interaction with people around Japan during a 1 year stay? Mainly just wondering because if Kyoto's language program is..less structured, this might not be of such importance in terms of improving my Japanese.
                That really depends on you and your study habits, for want of a better way to put it.

                If you are the sort of student that requires a well delimited structure and curricula to get your bum in gear, I would say go for the more structured language programme. If you are fairly adept and motivated to study on your own, then you might not need the structure so much.

                By way of personal example, I landed in Japan with Next to Zero Japanese ability, went to a rather crappy private Japanese language school for a month, then moved north and continued to use the same series of textbooks they had sold me at the school, and studied most every day for 3-4 hours. I was survival level in 6 months, conversational in 2, whence I returned to Canada, but kept up the private study. I also worked and ran a tour business, mostly in Japanese, and that, I think, was the real crucible that perfected my Japanese, both spoken and written. By the time I got to Kyoto University I aced the entrance exam and was forgiven the Monbusho fellowship requirement to take Japanese language classes, and more than able to adequately follow seminars and complete my field research (in social anthropology).

                At any rate, assuming you are diligent in your studies, the more significant and relatively deeper interaction you have with Them Natives, all things being equal, the fasterer you will get betterer.

                Also, if you have the inbred dislike of extremely large cities, as I do, then Kyoto really does sound like a better compromise: it is a city, but it is both modern and convenient, and it is also the Ancient Capital, and let's face it, that is pretty cool. If you work it right, you could find a place to live that would allow you to commute through the Forbidden City to university. It's just a nice big park now, for the most part.

                There are few cooler ways to get to school, IHOMO.

                And if you can drink, then Kyoto would allow you to locate a few favourite bars, and practice your Japanese while you drink. Which is also cool.

                Remember, the more frequently you meet the same people, and become friends, the more actual conversations you will have with them. Most Japanese have a different time span and sense of social distance than say, Australians or Canadians, and it can take a while to get over the more formal hump and away from the same rote pleasantries.

                That seems a bit rambling, but hopefully some of it will help.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by superhat View Post
                  Hey kurogane, I have checked, it is Kyoto Uni proper! Yeah, my uni has exchange agreements with quite a lot of unis in Japan, I just pretty much narrowed it down to these three as my top preferences, pretty much for the reasons you listed above. I'm still really just tossing up between spending a year in Kyoto for its sheer awesomeness (tourist yay!), or Waseda for the seemingly better prepared language program. I know its really up to me in the end, but I really do appreciate the input. Thanks!!

                  Also, I was wondering.. from experience, would you say I am more likely to improve my Japanese in a uni language program in general, or from interaction with people around Japan during a 1 year stay? Mainly just wondering because if Kyoto's language program is..less structured, this might not be of such importance in terms of improving my Japanese.
                  Having Kyoto U on your CV will open many doors with people who know about the the Japanese University system, be it for an internship, PhD program or future job. As you say yourself, a language course in Japan will not be much different from a course in the US, so the main thing is to get immersed in to the student life, make connections, etc.

                  Do also find out from alumni how good the 'service' is. I was at a smaller private University with few foreigners, meaning we got 'VIP' status and were always invited to events and other programs. But I'd recommend Kyoto by a large margin as well.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks a lot guys!

                    With all your input, Kyoto Uni seems like the better option for me so I've decided to place it as my first preference. I've always wanted to stay in Kyoto anyway! Really appreciate all the help!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ttokyo View Post
                      Having Kyoto U on your CV will open many doors with people who know about the the Japanese University system,.
                      Agreed.


                      It's like having a business card that reads like this:








                      Good luck, Soophat, and feel to free to ask about good after hours Japanese Language Development Institutions (aka 'bars'..........).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by kurogane View Post
                        Agreed.


                        It's like having a business card that reads like this:








                        Good luck, Soophat, and feel to free to ask about good after hours Japanese Language Development Institutions (aka 'bars'..........).

                        Heh, a list of any great insider places to visit would be awesome! Much appreciated!
                        Won't be leaving till early next year anyhow, better start doing some research! Hopefully uni will let me go with my first preference!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think the farer away from Tokyo, the better you'll be able to immerse yourself in Japanese and improve your ability. If you're in Tokyo, the majority of the people you'll be hanging around with probably know English, so unless you make an effort to speak Japanese, you might not improve as much as you'd like.

                          That's what I've heard!

                          My brother went to KyotoU for a semester in 2008 with the KUINEP program, but he would strongly recommend against that, and instead try for the other/general exchange program so you can take classes in Japanese with the (Japanese) regular students! If you want more specific info about my brother's experiences in Kyoto, I'll ask him!

                          Waseda and Keio are also very good!

                          If I were you, I'd prolly chose Kyoto > Waseda > Keio.

                          I'm going to Tokyo University for two semesters 2012/2013

                          Best of luck for your application! Maybe we can hang haha! (I'm from Sydney myself too)
                          Last edited by hayashi-raisu; 2012-04-27, 08:24 PM.

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