by Max Harris, Biology with International Year
I spent my international year at Tokyo Metropolitan University in Japan. Tokyo can be a lot of fun with a lot of different things available to do and I found it to be generally a safe place to be.
One thing I recommend you do is to join sports clubs because you can meet lots of new people, other than those in your dorm room. Learning Japanese will be helpful but isn’t mandatory if you are only trying to get around to a few places in Tokyo as they have English translations on trains and directions. Knowing some
Japanese phrases will definitely come in handy when interacting with people ,for example when ordering a table or asking for directions. I also recommend travelling further around Tokyo, as many people from my dorm didn’t travel too far out to explore around Tokyo or Japan, which is a shame as there is a lot of good places to see or to eat at.
I ended up spending way more money that I had initially expected and had to get a part-time job, which can be easy if you become an English teacher for a small afterschool organisation. There’s a lot of places that do all you can eat BBQ meat or all you can drink alcohol, but do be careful of areas like Shibuya since the deal always sounds great but it can be expensive and alcohol can be watered down.
Many Japanese people won’t talk that much at first and it can feel lonely, but at TMU you will be in a dorm of around 80 people in similar situations to you, so it can be easier to make friends with these people.
There’s a group called HANDS in TMU which specialise in TMU students meeting international students. They run a few events throughout the year which is good to lookout for. The TMU dorm will also have RA’s to help with problems which and a few situations if you aren’t familiar with Japan.
Etiquette is also a big thing in Japan so make sure you look into this before you go and use common sense and following what locals do when you are there. Myself and a lot of other friends who I met had an amazing time at TMU and wished it had only lasted longer, which is why doing as much as you can when you’re free is best. A fair amount of people who I have spoken to who had been an international student at TMU ended up coming back to Japan to revisit old memories after graduating which also further proves that it can make a strong impact on people.