A day at Keio (for University-Wide Exchange Students)
7:00 OHAYŌ! (Good Morning!)
I usually start my morning with breakfast and coffee and then walk to the station to catch the train to the Mita Keio Campus. If I have classes early, the train can be quite full but the good thing is that Japanese trains and the staff are perfectly prepared for the masses of commuters every morning and usually I arrive without a single minute of delay. Especially when it is early and I arrive at the red Keio gate, to my left in beautiful morning sunlight the Tokyo Skytree, I can really feel Tokyo’s metropolitan vibe. Then, walking up the stairs of one of Japan’s most prestigious universities and seeing the old beautiful library, I feel honored to have the opportunity to study here.
9:00 Classes start
I am a student in the JLP (Japanese Language Program), so most of my classes are in Japanese. They are divided into several levels according to your knowledge of the Japanese language and each one of them has a special focus on various aspects of the language such as grammar, holding a presentation, writing essays etc. The good thing is that you can freely choose which subjects fit you best and how you can best work on improving your Japanese skills. The teachers are all excellent, very friendly and try hard to teach you the Japanese language while also having fun doing it.
12:15 Itadakimasu! (Lunch Break)
Keio Mita Campus offers several cafeterias with different menus and price ranges. Next to that, you have the opportunity to bring your own lunch and sit down outside or on one of the terraces from which you have an impressive view over the city. Also, the International Office organizes a Global Lunch at the Global Lounge on Mita Campus, where you can talk with Japanese students in Japanese or with other exchange students in their native languages. On top of that, Japanese as well as Exchange Students will introduce their countries and culture to you by doing presentations. I learned a lot not only about Japan but also about other countries through attending the Global Lunch and it was always a lot of fun talking with students from so many different backgrounds.
13:00 Classes continue
Next to the various Japanese classes, exchange students in the JLP and KIP can also take International Center Courses in English which are offered on various topics and conducted in English. I decided to take the Japanese Cinema course which introduces the history and different genre of Japanese cinema. It is very interesting to get a deeper insight into Japanese culture and society trough the medium of film and discuss them with other exchange students as well as Japanese students. But for those not so much interested in film, there is a wide range of other topics about Japanese culture, society e.g. as well.
18:00 University student clubs
Keio University offers a wide range of student clubs which are organized by students and which focus on various topics such as sports, music, literature, Japanese culture etc. Usually these clubs hold meetings at the campus, lunch discussions or organize events. I chose to join a club about female empowerment and gender equality because I thought it is interesting to learn about this topic not only from my western, but also from a Japanese perspective.
19:00 Going home, OYASUMI (Good night)
After a long day of classes and talking with many different students about various interesting topics, its time to go home and take a rest. For those who still have energy, the streets around the campus offer a lot of different restaurants, bars or Karaoke places as well.
Studying in Japan was a great experience because I was not only able to widen my horizon by stepping outside of my comfort zone and into a completely new culture and country, but I was also able to learn a lot about myself, my place in the world and my own culture. Also, I think it is important to learn what it feels like to be in the minority in another country and culture and to learn to communicate with different people from different backgrounds. All in all, I felt very welcomed here not only by Japan and its people but especially also by Keio University and I can only recommend everyone to take this opportunity and study at Keio.
Marie-Christine Dressen, Exchange Student from Cologne University, Germany