Thursday, August 5, 2010
Only 23 days left...

I have not written a post for quite some time. The previous blog post was an article from my former blog. I had an account at fc2 blog. I decided to move to Blogger because all of the services I use are on Google. This includes my YouTube account.

Once I land in Japan, I will start posting video blogs on YouTube. I will also include those videos here on this blog. Although I am just one of the many people who blog about their experiences in Japan, I want to have my thoughts on Japan known. The purpose of this blog is not only to enlighten people on how is it to be a Kansai Gaidai University foreign exchange student, but to express my thoughts concerning Japanese culture.

There are many great blogs from foreigners (including Americans) living in Japan. I do read these blogs, but enjoy watching video blogs much more. For that reason, I will list all the video bloggers that I know on YouTube. 

Please note that, although it is great to hear what these video bloggers say about Japan as a reference, you must also realize that what they have experienced in Japan and what you will/have experience(d) in Japan will not be the same. Many Japanese say that Japan is a small country but, if you ever have tried to travel to different prefectures in Japan, you will realize that the country is pretty big. For example, a trip to 京都 (Kyoto) from 東京 (Tokyo) on the Shinkansen (bullet train) is about 2 and a half hours.

Let's start our long list of J-Vloggers on YouTube:

And, last but not least, my channel

So, what's up with the user name? sakuraga0ka is 桜ヶ丘(さくらがおか SAKURAGAOKA) written in romaji. To follow up on my videos, please subscribe to my channel!

I'll end this post with a video I like:

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010
First blog entry

Kansai Gaidai
Photo from flickr

Personally, I never thought that I would have an opportunity to study abroad. I have been so busy with life (i.e. college & part-time job). I sent my application to study abroad to SUNY University at Albany on a whim and got accepted. I was both happy and worried; I was happy to finally be able to study in Japan, yet worried if I would be able to support myself in Japan.

At the very moment I am living in New York City. I depart on August 27th. My flight is early in the morning (6:00 a.m.).... Well it was a pretty cheap ticket (about $1,000 for a ticket to KIX w/ 1 stop in SFO). What is KIX? KIX stands for Kansai International Airport. Wiki info here.

So, how is the application process? Well, I have noticed that no one has clearly detailed the application process so I will do my best to explain how it works. The application process differs depending upon where you live, how you apply (as a Full Exchange Student or Independent Student), and which University you apply to that offers exchange programs. I applied to Kansai Gaidai under SUNY University at Albany so details concerning how to apply are specific to University at Albany.

First off, University at Albany is very strict with due dates. In fact, if you are at least one day late with a document, expect phone calls. You need to be organized if you want to your application process to go smoothly. To apply, go here. You must apply for an online account with your current student status (i.e. are you a junior, senior? What is your GPA?).

So, to apply what do you need


Material Submissions (snail mail)

Agreement / Release Form
Application for Admission as a Non-Matriculated Student *1
Health Report 1: Student's Report of Health
Health Report 2: Doctor's report of your health
Insurance Information for ALL STUDENTS
Insurance Waiver 1: Request Form *2
Insurance Waiver 2: A Copy of Your Current Insurance Card *2
Insurance Waiver 3: Documentation Proving Coverage Available Overseas *2
KG Admission Checklist
KG Application for Admission
KG Essay *3
KG Japanese Instructor's Reference Form *4
KG Japanese Language Background Questionnaire
KG Letter of Recommendation Cover Sheets (3 copies)
KG Medical Information Form
Passport copy
Photographs (passport style)
Red Response Form
Your non-refundable deposit
Academic Reference #1
Academic Reference #2
Language Evaluation Form
Official Transcript from your home university
Official Transcripts from other colleges attended
Study Statement
Unofficial transcript(s) from college(s) previously attended

*1 If you are not a SUNY University At Albany Student, you need this

*2 If you intend on applying for the insurance provided by SUNY, then ignore this

*3 You need to write an essay about why you want to study in Kansai Gaidai

*4 If you do not have any previous Japanese language studies, you need one more recommendation from a professor at your current institution

Signature Documents (digitally signed)

General Information Handbook *1
I have reported my study abroad plans to the study abroad office of home campus
KG Confirms Your Nomination
Proof of Registration (SUNY students only)
Permission to share information about my application with parents/guardian/home campus

*1 This is a long pdf file concerning how you can support yourself while abroad.
You can download it here... (will upload file soon)

Once you have completed your application with SUNY, you should expect an answer within two months. You might get a letter stating that you are being recommended to study abroad. This does not mean you were rejected, rather, you should assume you were accepted and continue with your application (send the $300 deposit). Yeah, it hurts right?

Now you have been accepted, now what?

You will receive an e-mail from Kansai Gaidai with information on how to access their K-GENESYS portal. You will be provided a logon ID and password. To check it out, click here.

At the portal you will have to fill out an online application (very similar to SUNY's application). Once filled out, you must print it out and send it to SUNY University at Albany. On the portal it does state you have to send it to KGU, but you will receive a letter from University at Albany stating that you must send it to them so they can forward it to KGU.

Expect another 2-3 weeks to get an answer from KGU. Once you get an e-mail notifying you have been "admitted," you need to provide information concerning your travel plans (how will you get to Osaka?)

They provide pick up services at three locations:

Kansai International University (all arrivals prior to 6:00 p.m.)
Itami Airport (2:00 p.m. only)
Kyoto Station (2:00 p.m. only)*

*Assuming you took a flight to Narita airport and took the Shinkansen to Kyoto station.

After two months or so, you will then have to provide KGU with information on how you want to live in Japan; dormitory or home stay. I will be living on a dorm

After that.... well you are all done

Next time I will write about how can one apply for scholarships for yout study abroad program. This includes the JASSO scholarship.

That's all for now.

UPDATE: After you informed KGU about your living arrangements, you should get your COE (Certificate of Eligibility) for a student visa via snail mail. With that COE, you have to go to your nearest Consulate/Embassy of Japan to get a student visa. More info on the Consulate/Embassy of Japan can be found here.

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