A few months before you leave, consequently starting your study abroad experience, the campus you are doing the study abroad program through will hold an orientation giving general information, and possibly having some people that have done the program in past semesters and academic years. Although it is probably not mandatory I recommend going to this orientation, at the very least to meet some of the other students that will be joining you on your trip to Japan.

The first part will most likely be a general orientation, some kind of presentation with all of the study abroad students going to all of the countries offered by that university (the general orientation I attended at SUNY at Albany was held in a big auditorium/lecture hall with students going to Spain, Germany, the UK, Japan, and many other countries). This presentation will contain the most generalized information regarding things such as financial planning, organizing your time, dealing with culture shock and jet lag, and reverse culture shock to name a few topics. Because it is such general, broad sweeping information a lot of it will be generic and common sense, however you should pay attention because a couple of gems of information may be given. Also, because it is held before a large group you probably won’t be able to ask questions, so write down or keep in mind questions that you want to ask. They should also give you a packet of information, read it over at the very least, taking notes probably isn’t necessary but if that’s how you remember things better feel free to do so.

After the general orientation, they should separate you into smaller groups by regional program. Depending on how big the university’s study abroad program they may put you into a group of study abroad students going to Japan or, if they have a smaller amount of students, all the students going to Eastern Asian countries (the former was true with my experience, rather than the latter). Regardless you will be grouped with students going to the same general area as yourself, as well as the adviser or program coordinator for your area of travel. My recommendation is to not be shy, don’t be afraid to talk to the other people in the room. Be sure to ask questions that you have, the adviser will know the answer, or if he/she doesn’t they will find out the information for you. A lot of the information provided to you will be different from university to university. For me, there was a student that had gone to Kansai Gaidai the ’06-’07 academic year, so I asked all of my questions directly to her, the answers to which I will be providing in subsequent posts to this blog in due course.

So that should take you through to your orientation, next time I will go through what you should discuss and organize with your home campus (in my case I don’t go to SUNY at Albany so I will describe what needs to go on if you go to a college that isn’t directly providing the study abroad program to you, but it should be very similar for any campus, although significantly easier if you go to a university that provides that program directly), so until then!

I am extremely happy at the moment, I just received the second acceptance email, acknowledging my acceptance to Kansai Gaidai from the university itself. For the benefit of the reader I will post the full email so you will know what to expect when you receive your acceptance to study abroad. I will be asterisking ( **** ) parts of the email that are specific to myself or are not publically on Kansai Gaidai’s website. So without further ado here it is:

CORBIN, Andrew M
Admission Number: *****
State University of New York at Albany

Dear Andrew:

We are happy to inform you that you have been admitted to the Asian Studies Program at Kansai Gaidai for the fall semester of 2007. All the faculty and staff members of the Asian Studies Program join me in extending a warm welcome to you.

The following information outlines the procedures you must follow in order to complete your admission and entry arrangements. Please read carefully all the information provided in this e-mail.

Admission and Visa Procedures:

As soon as you receive this acceptance notification, please send us a short e-mail confirming your receipt of this message to the following account, so that we can create a listserv for students who will participate in our program for the fall semester of 2007: ******@kansaigaidai.ac.jp. Since we will use this listserv for our future communications, it is imperative that you send us this message. When you send us the e-mail, be sure to write “Admission Acknowledgement” and your Admission Number in the subject section of your e-mail.

This e-mail acceptance notification is being sent to the e-mail address that was written on your application document. When you confirm receipt of this e-mail to us, please send the message from the e-mail account that you would like to receive our future communications at, if different. We will send all the future correspondence to that e-mail account unless otherwise requested.

The procedures to be completed are as follows:

1. If you have not sent us a copy of your passport, please send us the following information via fax or e-mail attachment to ******@kansaigaidai.ac.jp:

Copies of the pages for your name, photo, passport number, date of issue, visa(s) granted for any previous trips to Japan.

2. You are exempted from the payment of the $50 Admission Fee and the $200 Enrollment Confirmation Deposit as per the agreement between our two institutions.

3. Since your participation is arranged under our official affiliation program between Kansai Gaidai and your institution, we will shortly apply to the Ministry of Justice for your Certificate of Eligibility (a visa-supporting document). If, for any reason, you must withdraw from our program, please let us know as soon as possible since we are
required to immediately inform the Ministry of any cancellation.

4. As soon as your Certificate of Eligibility is issued, we will forward it to the address indicated on the Address Form via DHL. Be sure to return the completed Address Form (form is attached) indicating the most reliable address to receive the certificate. If you want to have your certificate sent to the program coordinator at your institution, please
indicate so on your Address Form.

5. When you receive your Certificate of Eligibility from us, please take it and your passport to your local Japanese Consulate/Embassy and obtain a student visa. With the Certificate of Eligibility and your passport, you should encounter no difficulty in obtaining a student visa.

As for the academic calendar and the course offering for the 2007 fall semester, please refer to:

http://www.kansaigaidai.ac.jp/asp/03_academics/01.html
http://www.kansaigaidai.ac.jp/asp/03_academics/06.html

Please be advised that the course offering for the coming fall semester is subject to change without prior notice.

For further information regarding arrival, immigration and our orientation program, please refer to:

http://www.kansaigaidai.ac.jp/bekka/admissions/adm_index.htm

We look forward to welcoming you to our campus in August!

Hajime Yamamoto, Dean
Center for International Education
Kansai Gaidai University
16-1 Nakamiyahigashinocho
Hirakata City, Osaka 573-1001
Japan

So there it is, I’m sure that the email provided you with a lot of answers to your questions as far as procedure after your acceptance. I will still go over alot of the information topic by topic in the coming months before my departure for Osaka, Japan. Here are a couple of topics that I will cover to wet your palate:

  • Organizing your study abroad with your home campus
  • Doing some preliminary research on the city you are travelling to
  • Getting your Visa
  • Obtaining your flight

So I hope you look forward to reading what I have to write as much as I will enjoy writing it, until then!

Once you have sent out your completed application form to your home campus (the US campus that you applied for study abroad), you should receive an acceptance letter within about three to six weeks, depending on how early you sent your application out. Be exited! This means you are one step closer to going to Japan to study abroad. So now what?

Included with your acceptance letter should be an assortment of papers and other forms. First take all these thing out of the, more than likely manila, envelope. Spread them out on a table so that you can see all of them and revel in your excitement for a while, you earned it ^_^. Okay, once that’s done lets look at what you have there.

All institutions run this a little differently but here’s a basic rundown of what you should see in front of you:

  • The acceptance letter itself (feel free to frame this or whatever is necessary 🙂 )
  • A checklist with a list of what you should do next
  • Some sort of general information booklet
  • A group of forms that you have to fill out

I’m assuming you have already read the acceptance letter a few times, so we’ll take it from there. Look at the checklist and take note of the due dates for different forms and any information listed within. In the set of forms that are included, you will probably have to get a physical of some kind from your doctor, this should be one of the first things you do as you will have to make an appointment to do this. Along with this you should obviously do the things on the checklist that have the soonest due dates, and read the general information pamphlet. It will answer most of your basic questions.

The most important thing that you will have to do, and I recommend that you do this as soon as possible, is get your passport. And that will be the topic of my next post, till then!