My Amazing Journey at Waseda University
National Chengchi University (NCCU)
When I was first invited to write this article for Waseda University’s School of Commerce (SOC) website, my first reaction was: it is an impossible task. I thought this, as I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be to condense all of the amazing and unforgettable things that happened this semester to only one webpage! My semester in Japan has, no doubt, been the best time ever in my life. After spending a couple days thinking and reviewing thousands of photos that I had taken this semester, I have decided to share my feelings. I would like to dedicate this article to all the people who helped me in Tokyo, who were real heroes to me, and who made my dream come true.
Thanks to the agreement between the SOC and my home university, the National Chengchi University, I had a chance to study at Waseda for one semester. I chose to live in the dormitory called WasedaHoshien near the main campus (there are some other cheaper options for exchange students but it takes more time to commute to school every day).
The main campus and my dorm are both situated on WasedaDori, the main road connecting Waseda Station and Takadanobaba Station. There are lots of restaurants on this road that provide different kinds of cuisines, including Japanese and pizza restaurants, as well as supermarkets, bookstores, post offices, drug stores, and \100 daily necessity shops. It is really convenient for a newcomer to settle down here.
Waseda is located in downtown Tokyo, in a ward called Shinjuku. As I was going to live in one of the biggest metropolitan districts in the world, it was really important for me to understand the city’s complicated subway and railway systems in order to travel around the city with ease. After figuring out the map, I realized there were countless places worth visiting that awaited!
I visited Meiji Jingu Shrine, Sensoji Temple, Tokyo Tower, Roppongi, Mt. Takao and the famous shopping districts of Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Akihabara and Ginza. This was not the first time that I had visited Japan, but this time, I was no longer a tourist, but rather a student. It was a totally new experience for me to visit these famous spots with classmates and friends, and from a different perspective.
There are normally important things to do upon arriving in Japan. For example, we had to complete our alien registration, apply for health insurance, and open a bank account, which is always very troublesome for exchange students. But in Waseda, it is not a big deal.
There are student clubs such as Niji-no-Kai (rainbow club) and Waseda International Club that sends student volunteers to help exchange students complete these tasks. If we want a mobile phone number in Japan, we need to sign a two-year contract, at least, with a mobile phone company in order to get a SIM card and mobile phone. The other solution would be to buy a prepaid SIM card. However, it still needs an exclusive cell phone device provided by the mobile phone company. In the end, I decided to sign a contract just to get a phone number. I still think it was worth it because I got a cool smart phone and an easy-to-recognize number!
Every day at school was a new experience for me. I took courses offered by the School of Commerce, the School of International Liberal Studies and the Center for Japanese Language. These courses were really interesting and have truly broadened my horizons. For example, I took a class called Global Marketing Strategy and Management with the suggestion of the officer at the School of Commerce. Sponsored by the British American Tobacco Japan Company, this class was taught by lecturers who are in top positions from global companies such as BAT, Coca-Cola, and Unilever.
I learned a lot from these professional entrepreneurs and think it was a rare opportunity to meet such successful businessmen. Their experiences and suggestions are really helpful and useful for a business school student. Furthermore, I chose a class that discussed the Japanese economy. It offered me a new trajectory to better understand economic issues such as the economic miracle after World War II, and what happened in the Lost Decade.
I took two more great classes at the Center for Japanese Language. Classes provided there are separated by students’ Japanese proficiency levels and there is a replacement test for all foreign students to know which level they belong to. Depending on your score, you can choose classes that match your level. It is acceptable for students to choose classes that are above their current level if they want to challenge themselves. I selected, for example, The Introduction to Modern Literature and The Mind of Japanese Expression and Communication for Mutual Understanding. Through these classes, I had the chance to read 10 masterpieces and learn more about daily communication and Japanese culture. I think it helped me to meet lots of foreign students who come to Waseda. I am grateful for having had such a unique chance to meet new friends from different parts of the world and build friendships with them.
Extracurricular activities in Waseda are fascinating too. From the entrance ceremony for the new semester, 20-kilometer hiking in Tokyo, school festival (Waseda-Sai) and the baseball match between Waseda University and Keio University, all of the events were a new experience for me.
In Tokyo, students often use public transportation to move around the city. But Tokyo Hike, an annual sports festival, brought us closer to Tokyo by exploring it by walking instead of taking the train or bus. We traveled through almost half of downtown Tokyo and saw lots of beautiful scenery. As we were all heading back to campus, we had a great time chatting along the way. But the best part of the event for me was not the event itself as during the day, a staff member had invited me to give feedback on Tokyo Hike for Waseda Weekly, the school newspaper.
I accepted the invitation. It is still unbelievable to see my words in print and distributed to all the students in the school. It was the first time I had written for a publication, and what’s more, it was in a foreign language! I have kept some copies of the newspaper, and I think it will be my best souvenir from Japan.
I set myself some goals before I came to Japan. One was to learn business from different perspectives and try to study business in Japanese. I major in International Business at NCCU in my home country, and considering the tight business and trading connections between Taiwan and Japan, I think studying in Japan will be helpful for my future career. The second goal was to meet more people not only from Japan, but from all over the world. My final goal was to travel around Japan during vacations. I feel delighted that I accomplished all of these goals.
I have learned a lot from the different classes provided by the School of Commerce. It was during this semester that I realised what an internationalized university Waseda is! I made friends from America, France and nearly all the countries in Asia. On weekends and holidays, I traveled to other cities such as Kyoto and Hiroshima. These two cities are very famous for their historical heritage.
In brief, I believe that my days in Japan have really changed my life. Choosing to study at the School of Commerce, Waseda University as an exchange student really expanded my worldview to a new level and had many unforgettable experiences here. If you are interested in studying abroad, I strongly recommend that you consider Waseda University as your first choice!