Thoughts on studying abroad at Keio University?
May 22, 2006 12:55 PM   Subscribe

Thoughts on doing a year long foreign exchange stint at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan.

This is a question of multiple parts:

1. How poor will I be living in Tokyo, oft cited as the world's most expensive city?

2. Is Keio (Mita) far from other "cool" parts of Tokyo?

3. Does anyone, by chance, have any experience with Keio?

4. Are there any major reasons not to do Keio? If so could someone recommend another program via the University of North Carolina study abroad program .

Bonus points if someone can locate an English language blog of a student at Keio.
posted by matkline to Education (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I forgot to mention my other choices in Japan:

International Christian University - Mitaka City
Kwansei Gakuin University - Nishinomiya
Nanzan University - Nagoya
Sophia University - Tokyo
posted by matkline at 1:00 PM on May 22, 2006

1. You'll probably be fine. I spent about 10,000$ over the course of a year in Tokyo, not counting school expenses. The most expensive bit is rent, and if you're in a dormitory or have Keio help you find housing you shouldn't have to worry about that too much.

Food is about the same price as it is in the states (except for fruit, which adds up FAST). The only other major expense is rail travel, which can also add up if you plan to head out of Tokyo much or have to commute daily.

Even so, I never found Tokyo to be astronomically expensive. Clubs and dinner will of course drain your wallet pretty swiftly, but if you have a budget you'll do fine. (And there's of course plenty cheap ways to enjoy the city)

You can also mitigate alot of the expenses by teaching private English lessons, one-on-one. You can make as much as 3000 yen (30 dollars) an hour if you find the right students, and there are plenty of student/teacher matching websites around. Even teaching a few lessons a week will help you a lot.

2. Tokyo is really not that had to traverse. Mita is in the middle, so you'll be close to everything. I think the JR Tamachi station is right there (which is on the Yamanote-sen, the big green loop), meaning you're going to be within 20 minutes of everything in the city. You'll also be within walking distance of tons of neat stuff, and if you purchase a bike you'll be in great shape for getting anywhere (and getting some exercise). I think Tokyo is best enjoyed on a bike or on foot, and you'll be in a perfect location for it.

The Mita area is on the East side of Tokyo, near the bay, which is a pretty corporate area. Most of the entertainment areas are going to be to your west, about 15 - 30 minutes of train time (Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, etc). You will, on the other hand, be close to the club district of Roppongi, as well as the bay, which makes places like Odaiba and Ginza very accessible. Also, Ueno is just a few stops to the North on the Yamanote, and is a nice place to relax. Basically you're to the East and South, but you aren't far from anything. Trains make travel a cinch.

3. Can't help there.

4. Sophia is a nice place, considered it myself and know a few people who went there. It has a good reputation both in and out of Japan.

Nanzan is a great university. I know plenty of people who went there and loved it. I've heard nothing but praise for their language program, and it seemed to produce some pretty good speakers. The only downside is that it isn't in Tokyo (that may be good for you, though) and I think a lot of the exchanges with them require you to do a homestay for the duration of your study, which doesn't give you much freedom or the whole international dormitory experience.
posted by dead_ at 1:18 PM on May 22, 2006

And for the bonus question: This guy appears to have been accepted to Keio univeristy for the Fall semester, though beyond that he hasn't written much.
posted by dead_ at 1:25 PM on May 22, 2006

I've been studying abroad at Waseda University (Keio's rival private university) for the past year now, and I have friends who are at Keio right now, so I think I can answer your questions.

1. You can live quite well in Tokyo, despite being a college student. You'll be living in the dorms, which are subsidized; you have student cafeterias on campus, which are cheap; and as long as you're not going clubbing or out to restaurants all the time, you'll be fine. I'm getting a scholarship that pays for my rent and utilities -- but I live on my own, and that makes things a bit more expensive. The folks I know at Keio are living in dorms (one near Odaiba, the other on the Inokashira Line in Setagaya-ku). They also teach English, like dead_ mentions. I teach English, too -- about ten hours a week, which helps. See some of my other posts for more tips on living cheaply in the Big Sushi.

2. Mita (near Tamachi) is, as dead_ mentions, pretty close to lots of things. It's inside the Yamanote Line, which makes it very convenient. It's not the *cheapest* part of town, perhaps -- the area between Takadanobaba and Waseda has tons of student-oriented ramen shops, restaurants, izakayas and such that are quite reasonable -- but since there's a major school there's bound to be cheap eats.

3. I have no first-hand experience, but if you want I can introduce you to some people who are there now. I know quite a bit about Keio's programs, too, since I applied for them last year. I can also give you a lot more information on what it's like to be an exchange student at a Japanese university. (I also have friends at Nanzan, ICU, and Sophia -- ask away ^_^)

4. I'm biased, of course, but I'm partial to Waseda ;-) However, Keio is a fine place to study, with a good reputation. I'm not sure of your Japanese level, but I've heard they have a pretty good program for exchange students. Be warned that you may have classes on Saturday, according to one of my friends. (Waseda's program has no classes on Saturdays.) Also, you may be segregated from the general student population, since your program will likely be made up of classes taught in English. That's what I've found at Waseda, and although it changed this year to be a bit more mixed, it's still a bit disappointed to me.

I'd love to tell you a lot more by email, especially if you have any more specific questions -- feel free to drop me a line!
posted by armage at 3:24 PM on May 22, 2006

I attended Sophia for two years before transferring to another uni. It's up there with Keio and Waseda as one of the best private universities in Japan. I personally didn't have a very good time there, but that's just me and I don't have anything bad to say about the university itself. I think it would be a fine place to be if you want to study in Japan. ICU is a good school, too, I have friends who have graduated from it.
Actually, all of the universities that you mentioned have good reputations.
FWIW, my grandparents have lived in Mita for the past 50 years, I was born in the neighborhood and have also lived here for the past 8 or so years. I like it here, it's close to everything in Tokyo, which is good in terms of saving on tranportation fare. "Sumeba miyako" ("home is where you make it"), as they say.
posted by misozaki at 7:33 PM on May 22, 2006

I lived in Japan for 6 years. Do not think twice - GO FOR IT.

Japan is a beautiful country. You oughta love it. It's a fascinating place!

Go go go!! you can get by fairly cheap, and thanks to the trains, you're never too far from anywhere 'cool.'

But really - don't just go there to party in Tokyo. Take a train the *other* direction and just wander around. There's SO much to see in Japan. Please don't waste your year there just partying. :-)

And as I tell everyone - walk down the alleyways there. Sometimes you run across the most interesting things.
posted by drstein at 10:10 PM on May 22, 2006

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