Hi, my name is Evan Eng and I am a senior majoring in marketing and CISB. Through the business school exchange between UW and Kobe University, I will be studying abroad in Japan for one semester. Kobe University is located in Kobe, Japan which is in the Kansai region of Japan. Born and raised in Seattle, the first time I saw Kobe it actually reminded me of Seattle. The central area of Kobe, called Sannomiya, is a lot like downtown Seattle and is the place that you will be very familiar with if you come to Kobe. Kobe is also a major port city and plays a vital part in Japan’s trade, much like Seattle. One thing about Kobe that has not been like Seattle so far is the weather. Almost every day here has been nice and despite it being Autumn, it has still been pretty warm.
When I first got here I was pretty intimidated since this was all so new to me. With the help of my tutor and my advisors from the Business School, they showed me what I had to do and helped me tremendously in adjusting to life in Kobe. The Japanese school system is really different from the American system. First off, registering was done by hand and we actually had about 2 weeks of classes where we got a chance to “get a feel” for them and see if we actually wanted to take them. Secondly, every class meets only once a week. Third, the credit system is a bit different. Classes here are normally around 2 credits while a normal class at UW is about 4-5 credits. So here at Kobe University, you can take a lot of different classes in one semester.
The only problem I’ve faced so far was the lack of internet. Coming to Japan, internet was probably one of the last things I thought that I would have to worry about. Apparently LAN cables are the way to go in Japan and wireless internet is extremely rare. For the first 2-3 weeks, most of the students living in the dorms that I am staying in were without internet, and we all felt the same way. The way things are done over here is you have to contact an internet company and sign an agreement. Once you do that, it takes about 2 weeks for the company to come in and install it in your room. There is a second option too. You could also ask people near your room if they already have internet, and if you are one of the lucky ones and your neighbor does have internet already, you can ask if you can share the internet with them and connect a long LAN cable from their router to your room. This problem isn’t just in the dorms either. The campus also does not have wireless. So you can either find a LAN cable connection somewhere on campus or you can use the school computers. However, it takes about 2 weeks to get your username and password from your advisor, which you need to log onto the school’s computers. For me and most of the other students living in the dorms, the internet problem is your last real worry and afterwards you can finally focus on enjoying Japan.
Despite the minor internet problem my experience in Japan so far has been great. The people, the culture, the places; pretty much everything about Japan is so cool, and I would definitely recommend others to study abroad here or at the very least spend some time traveling here. For certain, this will be an experience that I will never forget.