ISOIS ▸ Final reports

Host country:
Host institution:
Mobility type:
Ac. year:
Study level:
Language filled in:

Akita International University

Japan 2017/2018 Partner universities

Personal data
Mobility type:

Faculty at MU:
Faculty of Social Studies

Field of study:
Political Science / Security & Strategic Studies

Level of study during period of placement:

Language used:

Summer/winter school?:

Period of studies:
spring 2018
autumn 2018

Period of placement (from-to):
2018-04-01 - 2018-12-21

Number of months:

Activities before my departure abroad
Where can information be found about courses taught at the foreign school?:
Materials from the partner university available from MU, later their university information system.

Which documents were needed for acceptance at the foreign university?:
Motivation letter, CV, transcript of records from home university, later some medical documents and financial statement.

How far ahead did you have to organise your acceptance?:
+/- One semester ahead.

Did you need a visa?:

Documents and materials needed for a visa:
Financial statement, application, and confirmation from the hosting university.

Length of wait for visa:
Few weeks, month at maximum.

Fee for the visa:
Can't remember precisely or if any at all. But if there was a fee, it was not large.

Did you have a Learning Agreement signed before your departure?:

If not, why not?:
Hosting university signed it sometime after my arrival. There was a period when students could change their courses so after that period was over, they could sign the LA.

Before your departure did you know how your courses would be recognised by your home faculty?:
Mostly yes.

During your stay did you change your Learning Agreement?:

When and how did course registration take place? Are there any restrictions? Possibilities of making changes?:
You register for courses beforehand and when the semester starts there is a (2 weeks long if I recall correctly) period during which you can change your courses (if there were enough free spots and you were admitted in the first place). Almost no restrictions (apart from a limited number of free spots) applied.

Did you take any examinations at the foreign school?:
Yes. In language classes, it was written small exams basically every day and sometimes bigger ones and oral examination too. In other classes, it was a mix of essay tests and knowledge written (or oral) exams usually spread out throughout the whole semester with bigger ones sometimes in the middle and at the end. It varied depending on a class

Does the school use the ECTS system?:

If not then explain how the credits there were recalculated into ECTS:
Every credit earned at the partner university was multiplied by 2.

Describe the teaching methods (theory, practical and projects) and assessment of students:
Varied greatly according to the subject. More creative projects and essay exams than in MU. Less "memorizing", although bigger workload spread out through the semester and mandatory attendance. The final grade was usually a sum of all the activities in the course.

Quality of teaching in comparison with home school:
Again, varied greatly subject to subject. Some courses were of lower quality (usually because the teachers had to go much slower due to insufficient English skills of some Japanese students), but there were those whose quality was definitely comparable to MU (which I consider of very high quality).

How did you receive study materials?:
Usually from the teacher in class or the school information system, from mandatory books we had to buy or the school library.

Can you recommend an interesting course/subject/teacher?:
I can recommend the very high-quality Japanese language courses in AIU. From other courses definitely history ones from prof. O'Reilly, debate classes of prof. Konishi and most importantly, law and politics classes of great prof. Toyoda which gave me a lot.

How well is the school library equipped?:
Well enough for the needs of the school curriculum.

Availability of computers, internet access, level of software needed, requirements on notebook:
Computer lab opened 24/7. Internet access through wifi almost everywhere apart from accommodations (you need a router or use lan cable). Also, don't forget that plugs are different so take a plug converter.

Options from printing and copying:
Free copying and printing of 150 black/white pages per month. Apart from that, you can pay a small fee for more or color ones.

Does the foreign school/student organisation arrange special events for exchange students?:

If yes then what?:
Various welcoming events to mix the foreign students and the new coming Japanese students (small and large ones). Apart from that many events were hosted where all were welcome (not only exchange students).

How would you assess your integration with the local students (evaluation like in school from 1 to 5 with 1 as highest):

or describe in your own words:
If you are not shy and engage the local students (mostly during the first weeks when most of them are also newcomers) the integration is pretty high. There is also a certain number of more "cosmopolitan" older students, who are easier to hang out with. Truth be told, the cultural difference can get in the way from time to time and some Japanese students rather spend time with other natives and don't like spending time with foreigners that much. But in the end, if you want to get integrated, its possible to a rather high degree.

Practical questions on your placement
Where did you live?:
Apartment in the campus provided by the university. So called "Global Village".

Cost of accommodation - monthly:

Additional comments to the price of accommodation (as to what the price includes):
In total it was +/- 130 000 yen per semester (1000+ EUR). It included housing and bedding and cleaning fee. Also of course electricity, water and internet.

Describe the equipment. Tips for future students – what should they bring with them?:
Basics - desk, chair, bed, stove, small fridge, safe without a padlock, lan cable and some cupboards. You need to buy everything else from kitchenware to a trash can. There is a cheap (100 yen) store in nearby mall (AEON mall) where you can get most of the needed things very cheaply. The school also provides free transportation there during the first two weeks.

How and how far ahead should accommodation be organised?:
Like the application, during the semester before the stay abroad.

What are the catering options?:
You can buy a meal plan. There is a 10 meal plan (lunches and dinners during the work days) and 21 meal plan (all three meals every day), they wary in the price of course. The quality and taste are very inconstant, but during the first two weeks its mandatory so you will know by the end of the period if you want to continue. You can also cook in your place. And there is also a "restaurant" in the cafeteria providing a stable selection of meals and more "western like" cafe with fast food and a small selection of meals every day (although more expensive than the cafeteria or restaurant). There are also a few establishments around the campus, but not very suitable for everyday meals.

What are the rough costs of groceries (compare with Czech prices):
Higher. Not drastically but after a few months, you'll know the difference. You can buy noodles, rice, and fish even cheaper, but everything else is basically more expensive (the biggest difference I guess are fruit prices).

Transport to location of placement:
The school provides pickup at the airport (as long as you give them a heads up). Afterward, there is a bus line going to the mall several times every day and to the train station where you can take the connecting train to the city. Be aware that the campus is really in the middle of nowhere.

Rough prices for transportation:
One round trip to the mall is 320 yen (around 60 Czech crowns) and to the train station the same (there you must buy another ticket to town for another +/- 50 crowns). Overall the transportation fees are higher.

Tips for purchasing cheap tickets and other recommendations:
Be aware that for traveling around the country, you as a foreigner can buy cheap "explorer pass" tickets from Japanese airlines for low prices to the main destinations of Japan (as long as you have a return ticket). For local traveling you can buy tickets from the bus driver for 1000 yen, making the trips to the mall a little bit cheaper.

What are the local transport options (public transport, cycling, on foot, rough prices):
As mentioned before its mostly bus lines and train. There is a possibility to rent a bike too.

What kind of formalities have to be arranged before arrival, for example residence permit?:
Residence permit/student visa. That means going to the embassy in Prague, some medical examinations, various documents from school, etc.

What health insurance did you use? (rough price, advantages, disadvantages, is it necessary to arrange insurance at the university other than your home (Czech) insurance?):
There is a mandatory Japanese national health insurance (covering 70 % of all expenses) which is included in the money the university will ask from you before arriving. I bought extra travel insurance back in Czech to be safe.

Did you have any experience with medical treatment abroad?:
Yes. The school has a small nursery where I had to go to get medication because of second-degree burns I suffered. These treatments are free but visits to hospital cost money (as I know from the experiences of my friends)

Did you work during your studies?:
A little bit, yes.

What are the conditions for working for MU students?:
You need to apply for a work permit (nothing complicated) to get money for the work, otherwise, they can't pay you. After that, there is a school department called RCOS that arranges for small-time jobs for foreign students (usually conversation partners and teaching English to Japanese kids). Japanese language skills help but they aren't always necessary.

Tips for free-time activities:
Join a club. There is also a free movie projection every Friday at the university "cinema". Otherwise, the school will provide enough info during the first weeks what to do in free time and the possibilities you have. Enjoy Japan!

Financial support and expenses
Total grant from Centre for International Cooperation:
180000 CZK

Monthly grant in CZK:
20000 CZK

Number of supported months:

Total number of months:

What other sources did you make use of to finance your placement?:
My own savings, support from sibling and parents and very small part came from working in Japan too (mostly free time expenses). Those numbers below are orientational and varied month from month.

If you received another grant, state which and how much in CZK:

Total fees associated with enrolment at the university:

a/ amount of enrolment fee:

b/ amount of tuition fees:

c/ amount of other fees (which):
40000 JPY

What was your average monthly expenditure?:
50000 JPY

a/ of which for accommodation:

b/ of which for catering:
30000 JPY

c/ travel and recreation:
20000 JPY

Any comments to the average monthly expenditure:

Recognition of foreign studies at the home faculty
How many credits did you gain during your studies (in the system of the foreign school)?:

How many ECTS credits were recognised at MU?:

Did you know in advance which of your courses would be recognised by your home faculty?:
No, only after the signing of the Changes to LA.

What problems did you have with recognition?:
Different dates of semester start in Czech and Japan mean the schools send the documentation according to their own schedule, which in the present causes troubles for me, as I need some of the documents from Japan faster, then they said they'll be ready. Apart from that no problems with recognition of the courses.

Overall assessment
Assessment of personal benefit (1 = excellent):

Assessment of academic benefit (1 = excellent):

Evaluate the information and support provided by the foreign school (1 = excellent):

Did you encounter any serious problems during your stay:
Not really.

What would you recommend to take with you:
As mentioned above. Don't forget plug converter.

What most surprised you at the partner university in a positive way:
Welcoming attitude of staff and the local students. Great environment and course selection. Very good lectors and many ways how to spend free time. It was a really great time and invaluable life experience.

What most surprised you at the partner university in a negative way:
Maybe attitude of some small number of local students towards foreigners and the isolation of the campus.

Further comments:
Recommending 9,9/10