Hi! This is my first post in which I will be talking about a few things concidering my upcoming exchange: applications, getting a student visa, insurance and all that boring stuff. In the next post I will mostly be talking about my own feelings about the whole thing.
Application for Seinan Gakuin University
So I picked Seinan Gakuin as my first choice for a school in Japan. I had heard from other students studying in my field that it was a great experience for them, so why not? First I applied to exchange through JAMK by the end of February 2019 and I was nominated by them to Seinan Gakuin. After that I had about a month to make an online application and get the documents needed. The school’s website is really helpful and clear and their staff responded quickly when I needed to ask them something. It took a little waiting game until by the end of April I got an email of acceptance to their school and I was more than thrilled! The hardest part was now over.
Note: Please remember to renew/get your passport early on! And keep those passport photos, you will need them when applying for a visa.
Getting a visa
After getting accepted the school coordinator of Seinan Gakuin provided me with documents including the next steps, like filling out the Certificate of Eligibility. It was a bit confusing at first but they had a sample form showing how to fill it out so that was extremely nice of them. The CoE application had to me filled out and returned pretty quickly, as it’s very important in getting a visa. When you get your CoE as well as other documents via mail (like actual paper mail) you should apply for the visa asap in your nearest embassy, in Finland it’s located in Helsinki. It’s the end of July right now and in two days I’m going to pick up my visa, it can take time. It’s best to call the embassy after getting your CoE so they can let you know what you should do next.
Whether you’re moving out of your apartment in Finland completely or not, you should call your insurance company about the exchange. They will provide you with everything you’ll need during you time abroad. I decided to have a subtenant (in finnish: alivuokralainen) in my apartment while I was away so I needed to keep my home insurance in Finland as well as the travel insurance etc. And also, you’ll need to get insurance from Japan as well, but that will happen once you have arrived to your school.
Preparing for the departure
I bought my roundtrip plane tickets pretty early in June, and the non-stop choices were actually relatively “cheap” for a flight to Japan. Having had traveled for about 32 hours the previous time I was on exchange I chose OF COURSE the non-stop ones. The prices really went up and down during June and July so keep and eye on them, Tuesdays and Sundays most often have the cheapest tickets.
Just a few tips before departing to Japan:
- Exchange quite a lot of euros to yen (school recommends 100 000 ¥, I got about 150 000 ¥), because Japan is still a cash based country
- Get a credit card, I heard Visa Electron doesn’t work
- It’s probably the best to get a Japanese SIM card when you get there, and call your mobile company in Finland to get a cheap plan while you’re away so your number doesn’t get lost
- Try to relax with friends and family before going abroad!