After a few delayed flights and overnight stays along the way, I finally made it to Fukuoka, Japan! I’ve been here for 5 days now and it’s been hectic with meeting new friends from other countries, trying to communicate with my roommates with the limited Japanese that I have, and generally setting in to the dorm life. Though I arrived at Fukuoka pretty late, everyone has been helping me catch up on the activities that I’ve missed. So far, I’ve got my residence card, opened up a bank account, and settled all my health insurance bills. So far, so good!
Pre-departure: Before coming to Japan, you must apply for a visa. For me, my host university sent me a Certificate of Eligibility along with an application form. I then had to submit the certificate along with my passport to apply for a Visa at the Consulate-General of Japan (or Japan Embassy) which is in Auckland CBD. The Visa itself took around 3 days to issue, but once that’s done, all I have to do next was to submit a copy of it to FWU, and it was all sorted!
At the start of a new academic year, Japanese schools hold an Opening Ceremony for new students. This Ceremony marks the start of a new stage in each student’s life. Our Opening Ceremony was held last week and it was to encourage and allow students to feel welcome in Fukuoka, and to motivate them to study harder throughout the next few months.
At our Opening Ceremony, the head of each faculty was present, along with the co-ordinators of the exchange student programme (WJC) and our buddies (JD-mates). The Opening ceremony started with a speech given by Shoji Shinkai, who is the vice president of FWU, and is also in charge of international affairs of the university. His speech was a welcoming and inspiring one, and it truly motivated all of us to challenge ourselves and grow to be better people throughout this course and beyond.
The university also held a reception party for both international and exchange students. There was a buffet and was catered by the university’s café staff. It was an amazing opportunity for students to mingle and have dinner together. Before we could eat, the director of the International Center, Rie Kawabe gave a warm message to all of us and raised the toast. It was a night of laughter and we made some great memories.
Fukuoka Women’s University has also arranged a buddy programme for us since more than half of us haven’t learned Japanese before or haven’t even been to Japan before. The JD-mates had to go through interviews with teachers from the International Center to prove that they could be responsible and committed to help all of us settle in. They also had to show that they had a good command of English, in order to communicate with us better. They are very helpful and understanding and are always online on LINE. I don’t know where I’d be without them!