Anonymous said: Hi! I am a student at UC Berkeley as well and I am practically fluent at Japanese. I only passed the JLPT N4 and I was only a few points off from passing the N3 this year, but speaking-wise I am literally fluent. My question is, would you recommend Waseda or Keio for a student that really wants to go to Japan and enjoy it?? I love anime and it has always been my dream to go to Japan and reading your blog this past year has confirmed to me that Japan is the best country in the world.
Not to be totally biased or anything but I would choose Waseda, haha.
In all honesty though, I knew a lot of UC students placed at both Waseda and Keio and the consensus I reached was that the people at Waseda enjoyed it more.
That’s not to say my friends didn’t like Keio, because it sounded like they all had a great time too, but in general it sounded like the people at Waseda liked being at Waseda more than the people at Keio liked being at Keio.
I’d say that either way is bound to be great and you’d have fun regardless, but let me just give a couple reasons as to why I picked Waseda and why I will forever and always claim Waseda superior (from a study abroad point of view):
- First of all, LOCATION. It totally matters. Waseda is literally located in Shinjuku-ku, one of the most populated areas of Japan and right in the heart of Tokyo. This means that there is ALWAYS something to do (woo night life) and you can get anywhere of interest within Tokyo in about an hour or less by train. And even if you’re having too much fun and miss your last train, walking home is not un-thinkable. In fact sometimes I did it just for fun. Keio is located just outside of Toyko in Kanagawa Prefecture, and although it’s located near Yokohama which is one of my favorite places ever it’s still much less active than Waseda’s area (not to mention the area around Waseda is basically a college town and tons of fun).
- This is still sort of about location, but specifically commuting. If you live in the dorms at Waseda it’s about a 10 minute walk maximum to school each day (of course you can also choose to find your own apartment or homestay if you want). Keio, on the other hand, has severally fairly distant campuses and everyone I knew had to commute by train every day to school (30-40 minutes) even though they were in dorms and sometimes they had to commute across campuses for classes, too. Waseda also has multiple campuses but us study abroad kids are only on one campus and it’s really close to the dorms (no commute!) so it’s way simpler.
- As far as Japanese placement goes, I also vote for Waseda. At Waseda you take a placement test but the results are basically for you only. No matter what you place in you can choose to take harder or easier classes based on your own preference. I only scored level 2 but I ended up taking level 4 classes after checking out the textbooks in the library. At Keio the test is much more rigorous and is definite - you can only take classes from the level you get placed in. That would be okay but the test also seems pretty inaccurate. One of my friends was REALLY good at Japanese and only placed into beginner. Another weird rule is that Keio can “invite” you to retake it (I’m not sure how they decide who gets invited) but he ended up getting invited to retest and then placed into advanced rather than beginner, so obviously there’s some issues there in terms of placing.
- Next, CIRCLESSSS. If you’re actually fluent than this might matter less to you because you may be interested in entering serious circles with all-Japanese students, but if you have any interest of joining an international circle Waseda’s also better for this. Waseda has two large international circles and I personally found them really helpful for meeting new Japanese friends that were actually interested in meeting foreigners (lots of more serious clubs actually don’t accept study abroad students) along with other exchange students to share my regular confusion that comes from being in a foreign country. Keio, to my knowledge, only has one of these circles and it’s much less active than either of Waseda’s and so no one I knew at Keio bothered to join it.
- Lastly, and this is basically pointless but I just love taking up Waseda, is Waseda gives its study abroad students a closing ceremony and diplomas at the end. Keio doesn’t do anything (they might mail diplomas but I’m not sure). I’m not saying Waseda’s closing ceremony was great, but it’s sort of nice to be acknowledged as an actual student of your school after spending the better part of a year there (especially after realizing that other schools don’t do that).
Chikan: men who grope women in public in Japan. Also refers to the act itself.
An illustrator who posted a cartoon claiming to show the difference between those who easily attract sexual harassment or assault and those who don’t has, as you might expect, sparked a heated debate in online and offline communities. Critics assert that focusing on a woman’s appearance and clothing amount to blaming the victim, not the attacker. The artist on the other hand says the work is based on statistical evidence. But no matter which side of the debate you stand, the illustration itself is worth a second look…
I’ll first give a little background about myself. I’m an International Studies-Linguistics and Japanese Studies double major. I completed mostly general education requirements my 1st and 2nd year at UCSD and not my core major classes. So, I needed to take primarily Linguistics classes in Japan. As for my Japanese Studies major, it was a major I declared while in Japan, and none of the CJL classes really go for that requirement… This means that the CJL classes are just GPA boosters for me.
Requirements for 1 year abroad at Waseda University:
CJL (Japanese Language Courses)
-level 1-8 (8 being the highest)
-you take an online test so you can see your own level (I got 4. This online test does not mean you have to take courses in that level. It’s a personal test for yourself when picking classes, so if you’re strong in grammar but weak in speaking, you can take a higher class for grammar and a lower class for speaking. It’s a relatively nice system in my opinion.)
-if you get 1-5 on the test: need to take 6 credits
-if you get 6 on the test: need to take only 3 credits
-if you get 7+ on the test: no need to take Japanese classes (instead substitute those credits for SILS courses)
-maximum amount of CJL classes up to 7 credits
SILS (School of International Liberal Studies)
-minimum credits: 8 (Intermediate & Advanced Courses)
-maximum credits: 0~6
Next… The bolded are teachers and classes whom I recommend.
Crossed out are classes and teachers whom YOU SHOULD NOT TAKE AT ALL COSTS.
((((((((((OKAY I’LL UPDATE LATER OF MY VIEWS ON THESE CLASSES.. As for now, I’ll leave you with this. And if you want me to add more stuff about the classes or registration, feel free to message me.))))))))))
Comprehensive Japanese 5I (3 units) with CHUNG, YangWon and OKIMOTO, Tomoko
(How detailed should I get? I took this class because it offers the most units for one class. There are many comprehensive classes, so they separate it from A, B, C… and so on. Many people got lost on the first day because they switched up the rooms. Make sure to check the room number the day of the class. And well, it’s a lot of work. It’s the traditional reading some article, learning grammar, and writing. Also, the lower the level of the class, the more classes you have? My friend had classes on Saturdays, while I only had 2 week days. The teachers are random. I love Chung-sensei! Because she’s been through a lot, and as a Korean and not Japanese teaching Japanese, she can see things from a learner’s perspective.)
Let’s Speak Japanese: Role Playing 4-5 (1 unit) with NAKAGOME, Akiko
(This teacher. My friend was saying how she has all those wrinkles from all the fake smiling she had to do. She scares me. Actually, I don’t like this class at all. And plus, I did all the work and ended up getting an A which frustrated me (People can usually get A+s). >_> I didn’t learn anything that applicable. You’re better off actually practicing Japanese in real life. But uhh.. Just role-playing in class. Not that much work outside of class except for the final presentation.)
Japanese Traditional Culture and Pop Culture 6-8 (1 unit) with SUGIYAMA, Masuyo
(Even though it’s a 6-8 class, the class was very doable. We would watch different videos about Japan and do worksheets. Sometimes we would discuss in groups because the class size was too large to do presentations in front of the class. At the end, we had a group presentation and a paper to hand in about anything traditional or pop culture related. Oh, and there are also homework assignments outside of class like reading articles and giving your opinion on them. My favorite lessons definitely were learning origami and playing taiko.)
Analyzing “Cool Japan” 6-8 (1 unit) with FUNAYAMA, Kumi
(I regret taking this class.. Just because unlike the other 6-8 class, this one, you really need to have a good grasp of Japanese. There are lots of discussion among groups, and if you want to contribute, you should be fluent. In this class, we would watch a few “Cool Japan” episodes and then discuss. The latter half of the course, people did single presentations on what they thought was cool, and we would put our comments up online. But I’d say, you can learn a lot through this class.)
Generational Change in Contemporary Japanese Fiction: Mothers/Daughters/;Fathers/Sons (4 units) with SPARLING, Kathryne Wyndham
(Sparling was a guest lecturer this year, so I don’t know if she’s still there teaching. She’s a really nice teacher. The last literature class I took, I didn’t finish any of the books, but this class I actually read all the materials. XD We discussed a lot. And I think there were two exams? I don’t remember the details that well. It sucks if you don’t read to where you’re suppose to because then you can’t contribute to the class (but that’s an obvious duh to any literature class).)
Word Structure and Vocabulary (4 units) with MUEHLEISEN, Victoria
(This teacher… is very very VERY uptight with being on time in class. If you arrive late, sometimes she snaps at you on the microphone. And sometimes, I felt like she didn’t have a very good command of the subject (I compared her to the Linguistics teachers back at my home university). I’d say.. meh? If you’re not really into Linguistics, this isn’t the class for you.)
Selected Topics in Sociolinguistics (4 units) with IINO, Masakazu
(He doesn’t teach at all… Basically you read chapters of a book he assigns and then students make presentations about the chapters. Luckily, I had two international students who would always contribute their insight on linguistics, so I would learn from them. And I took the Advanced Course for this, but apparently, Intermediate is the same. At the end of the class, you only need to write a paper. I’d say nice teacher, easy A, but you don’t learn that much.)
Expressing Your Opinion: Speaking & Writing 5-6 (1 unit) with EGO, Chikako
(Love this class because… No homework. No exams. But because of this, attendance and being on time is crucial. You read an interesting article or she poses some question, and you discuss with a group to see which side you’re on. Then you write a short essay about it in class. Some topics included: should we eat whale meat, which partner should you marry, should schools have school uniforms. That kind of thing.)
Write an essey including Photographs about the Experience and Meaning of Studying Abroad 5 (1 unit) with IMAI, Naomi
(This teacher.. Is… Interesting? She’s like one of those teachers that wants to be in with the cool kids. lol… But that’s just her style. I’d say, it was an interesting class.. Uhh, you spend the whole time writing about your study abroad picture and add pictures. Just a heads up, but she doesn’t give anyone A+s which may lower your GPA.)
Reading at Your Own Pace and Style 2-3B (1 unit) with KUMADA, Michiko
Looking at Japanese society & language through motion pictures 6-8 (1 unit) with KOBAYASHI, Mieko
Describe yourself in Japanese 5-6 (1 unit) with KIM, Yong nam
Story-making through daily life 3-4 (1 unit) with INAMI, Mayumi
Pragmatics and Semantics (4 units) with MASUKO, Mayumi
Translation Studies (4 units) with OHIRA, Akira
Syntax (4 units) with NAMAI, Kenichi
AND I DIDN’T TAKE THESE CLASSES, BUT THEY WERE RECOMMENDED BY FRIENDS:
STERENBERG, Matthew Kane (SILS European History Class)
SAKURAI, Keiko (SILS Islamic Class)
Here’s Waseda’s Syllabus Search: https://www.wsl.waseda.jp/syllabus/JAA101.php?pLng=en
wakamiyashinobu said: Hi there! I just had a question - around how many courses were you taking per term at Waseda and did you think that was not enough/too much/just right?
Hello! During fall semester, I took 3 SILS classes (4-units each) and 4 CJL classes (one 3-unit class and three 1-unit classes). For spring semester, I took 3 SILS classes (4-units each) and 6 CJL classes (1-unit each). I’d say the work load depends on the class, but these were just about right. Some find that taking six 1-unit classes for the Japanese courses may be stressful because of all the finals and papers due, but for most of them, they only had papers due at the end. As for the SILS classes, I didn’t really care about the workload as long as they were related to my major or topics that were of interest to me. So all in all, it was just right either way. Definitely look at the syllabus and see what the schedule is like. I wouldn’t change the amount of work I had, but definitely would have swapped some SILS classes for other classes.
I’ll write a post on the classes I took! I hope this helped!! ^___^
Tips and Tricks to Living at Nishiwaseda Dorms (and going to Waseda).
I’ve decided to list a bunch of things I wish I knew earlier before coming to Waseda. I’ll probably update this list once I think of more things and make it more organized…
Transportation: Fukutoshin Line
-goes to Ikebukuro and Shinjuku 3-chome for a bit more than JR Yamanote Line)
-has free metro wifi (same with tozai line)
-exit 1・2, and then 1 for the exit near nishiwaseda international dorm
-get a membership card early on
-get the monthly bingo cards (spend 1000 yen on certain days and get a stamp)
-you can get 500 yen off if you get a certain amount of points on your card
-get a Lawson point card
-you can get points from buying tickets there too which you can use to get snacks/promotion deals for free
-drink water from the tap (it’s free)
-print digital pictures from 711 because Lawson is confusing
-make a bank account with Mizuho/UFJ (one of my jobs wouldn’t transfer money to my post office bank account, so i had to create another bank account at Mizuho)
-dominoes and pizza hut are buy 1 get 1 free pizza if you pick up from the store
Entertainment (karaoke, movies, game centers
-everyone reserves movie seat tickets online (you should too unless you want a bad seat)
-big echo is my favorite karaoke place (takadanobaba especially because of the discount coupons & student discount)
-bigbox next to takadanobaba station has ~1000 yen karaoke from 9pm-7am including an all-you-can-drink bar
-bigbox arcade has 100 yen DDR
-sega arcade center has 100 yen maimai
-animate (shinjuku, ikebukuro, akihabara, shibuya)
for all your fujoshi needs…
Stores: Conveyor Belt Sushi
-Hamazushi on Waseda Street above the Softbank (90 yen / plate on 平日, 100 yen / plate on 土・日・祝日)
-has nice cheap simplistic stationary and everything
-has free wifi, but you need to make an account
-starbucks has cool limited drinks for certain periods (try sakura flavored drink in the spring)
-has best light thermals for the winter (heat-tech)
Stores: Yodabashi Camera
-all of them have lots of gashapon (great souvenirs)
-east exit can take you to sunshine city (there is also a specific exit for sunshine city too)
-east exit has gindako (yummy takoyaki)
-hachiko exit 8
-second hand thrift stores (super cheap stores. GO.)
-place called Mode Off has cheap clothes
-west exit (both chuo and regular) is B1F of odakyu, so you have to go up the escalator to get to 1F (yodabashi camera, airport limousine, sega are from this exit)
-east exit (lumine est with starbucks, sweets paradise)
-B7 exit is closest to animate
Dorms: Nishiwaseda International Student Dorm
-laundry rooms open from 9am-10pm (other times, it’s locked)
-the manager’s name is shirakawa (…i confirmed it on the last day >_>)
-join multiple clubs (i wish i did… but i also ended up doing language exchange my last semester which i highly recommend 1st semester.)
-printing places (building 22 B1F, building 9 1F) (you have to bring your own paper) (if all else fails, next option is to go to the printing place on waseda street between santoku and picaso. if that fails, most expensive option is to print at a convenience store)
-study lounge (Building 11 2F・8F, Building 22 3F, Building 14 3F)
-places to eat lunch (Obasan Bento with the red sign on the way to Building 11, Bento Place Across from Building 22)
School: Teachers from SILS & CJL
Waseda is strange in that there’s no website like ratemyprofessor where you can see their ranks… >_> And what I recommend are classes where you actually learn things (which may involve work), but the teachers want you to be more knowledgeable
-recommended teachers: namai kenichi (SILS syntax), sterenberg matthew (SILS european history), kim yong nam (CJL describe yourself 5-6), chung yangwon (CJL),
-recommended classes: reading at your own pace and style 2-3B (CJL, you do NOT have to be in that level.. lots of people from levels 1-8 take that class. all you do is read any japanese book in class and write a short analysis for 10 minutes in class.)
-do not take at all costs: ohira akira (SILS translation studies)
-participate in as many programs as possible (homestays, opportunities SILS/your program offers, jobs, volunteers, STAY ACTIVE AND MEET NEW PEOPLE)
-go to places by yourself (you’re in a foreign country. it’s nice being independent and not caring what others think of you because well you’re a foreigner and can justify what you do as because you’re a foreigner. i’m not saying go crazy. just that, it’s nice being you without having to put up a front. and you can become more independent and explore different areas by yourself. do some soul searching.)
-don’t leave with any regrets (if you’re hesitant about something, just do it (as long as it doesn’t hurt someone ._.). but it’s better doing something and not wondering what if or i should’ve done it that way.)
-don’t be too stingy. (you’re already spending money to be in japan. when’s the next time you’ll be in the same situation with the same people again? now don’t go crazy and spend all your money. if you’re strapped for cash, tell your friends and there are plenty of other things you can do that does not involve money. spend for the memories.)
-you’re going to meet a lot of people (you’re lucky in that you can choose whom you want to spend your time with. don’t spend time with people you don’t like.)
-口座解約(こうざかいやく): closing your bank account
-両替 (りょうがえ): change (as in if you want your one 500 yen to be five 100 yens)
-食べ放題 (たべほうだい): all you can eat
-飲み放題（のみほうだい): all you can drink
-学生割引（がくせいわりびき）: student discount
-tabelog (tabelog.com): like yelp for the states to look up good restaurants
-hotpepper (http://www.hotpepper.jp/SA11/): to find cheap places and discounts for haircuts
-airport limousine (https://www.limousinebus.co.jp/en/): from shinjuku west exit to narita/haneda airport 3100 yen
-yakobus (http://www.bushikaku.net/): find cheap tickets to go to areas in japan. you can pay for these at the convenience stores