Life in Japan is getting much easier. I am getting used to my exchange program at Sophia University. This semester I am only enrolled in four courses which include Japanese, International Finance, Consumer Behavior, and Venture Management. So far this semester has not been extremely challenging in terms of the coursework. I believe my biggest academic challenge is just balancing how much time I spend studying versus how much time I am out exploring Japan. I am also in my senior year of college so my motivation is at an all-time high to finish college strong and come back to the United States prepared to enter the workforce. This past week I just completed my first round of midterms, so I am currently waiting for my results.
On-campus at Sophia University, I am beginning to feel more at home. I joined a social communication student organization on campus called Socomi. This organization has given me an opportunity to meet new students on campus, and explore new parts of Japan. There are about 60 members in that club mixed with both international students as well as native Japanese students. The club meets three times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. They also offer special events like Halloween parties, camping trips, and other social outings. Prior to Socomi, I was just going along the motions of being a new student on campus standing out significantly because of my appearance as a large Black man. Socomi has given me a community of people to look forward to seeing a few times a week as well as practice my Japanese.
But my experience has not come without some obstacles. One of the chief ones is just trying to figure out cheaper alternatives to be able to enjoy my life here in Japan. One thing I didn’t know until I got to Japan was how expensive Japan is. Since this is my first time in Japan, I desperately want to make the most out of every opportunity that presents itself to me. I try my best to avoid letting my financial circumstances prevent me from being involved in activities or excursions that are of interest to me. I made a promise to myself that I would make the most out of my time here in Japan, even if it meant coming back to the US with no savings I would make the most of this experience with little regards to money. I also made a promise to myself that rather than working a low-level job doing a repetitive task making a minimum wage I would invest that time in exploring Japan and enjoying my life here as a full-time exchange student. I am of the mindset that upon returning to the United States I will find work and will have the opportunity to earn money for the rest of my life.
Due to the fact that I am not working, I really have to budget carefully over the next 8 months of being in Japan. It is a little discouraging looking at my bank statements and seeing nothing but withdrawals and international transaction fees. Japan is much more expensive than I thought with many things being even more expensive than in the United States. Some of the more costly things being Food, social activities, and transportation which includes trains and the cost of my bike plus $1 daily cost of parking my bike at the train station. Overall, my time in Japan has been spectacular I am making an effort every week to go somewhere new. This past weekend I spent time in Nikko Japan 3 hours North of Tokyo. This weekend I plan on going to Mount Takao for a hike with Socomi. Next weekend I plan on going camping with Socomi to Gunma in Japan.
Richard Amaechi is a senior at SDSU majoring in International Business with an emphasis in Japanese and Finance. He is attending Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan for the academic year.
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