Saturday, July 31, 2010

End-of-July Update

Soooooooooooooooooooo, July has actually been a fairly exciting month on the study-abroad front.  Which surprises me, considering that earlier I only expected to be expectantly anticipating August during July.

On Kansai Gaidai's part:
  • Applications for the Speaking Partner Program and Home Visit Program (deadline was July 20...I think I managed to e-mail it in while it was still that day in Japan 8D)
  • Housing notified me that I'ma be inhabiting a room in SEMINAR HOUSE 4 this coming semester~~ (actually, SH2 was my first choice, but SH4 has a really nice'all good ♥)
  • An e-mail containing a question concerning my financial situation was answered (ah, now I have to answer them back..)
  • Fall 2010 course descriptions came out (fairly early in the month)
  • They sent me my CoE :D
On my part:
  • I applied for my student visa (does not cost $$ for US citizens, yay!)....and just picked it up today!  (I also picked up two gigantic gourmet sandwich cookies, a gruyere-and-onion brioche, and a wig....welllll, if I'm going all the way to SF, I may as well go all out, hahahahahahaaa..)
    *relevant note: If there are no problems with your application, a student visa from the San Francisco branch of the Japanese Consulate will be ready in about a week*
  • I finally started assembling some of the stuff I'll be packing
  • (actually my parents' part) bought a biiiig, but fairly light suitcase~
  • I realized that I haven't studied much....any...Japanese yet....and summer is almost over
Still TO-DO:
  • Wire tuition and housing fees over to KG so I don't have to carry several thousand (US) dollars worth of traveler's checks with me (so in yen...several hundreds of thousands?)
  • Hang out with all my dear friends ♥
  • E-mail people.  Many people.  I am a bad person.
  • Plan out where I want to go in Japan.
  • Pack.
The time is just flyyyyying by..

28 days to go.............

      Tuesday, July 6, 2010

      YOU APPLIED!! what?

      So once you're done applying, what comes next..?

      Ohohohohoho, the fun (and fees) don't end with the initial application. (unless you're rejected. >_<; sorry!)

      Once You've Finished Applying to Kansai Gaidai..
      1. Do not compulsively check K-GENESYS every hour possible.  Once accepted, you will receive an e-mail notifying you of your acceptance.  Congratulations!  If rejected...I assume you will also receive an e-mail letting you know about that. :(
        If you are financially dependent on someone else (i.e., parents), you will also receive an e-mail with a Financial Guarantee form attached.  If you refer to Step 4 in my application guide, notice that I said to pay particular attention to item 4 in the Form G instructions--now is when that item matters.  KG will want a bank statement, a copy of a loan application, or a copy of your scholarship application/approval--something that proves you will be sufficiently supported during your time abroad.

      2. Go to K-GENESYS, admire how it says you're admitted, and once you're sure you want to attend, fill out the "Address Form" (it's online).  This is super easy, and a way of letting them know you intend to attend.  Make sure you fill it out right--the Certificate of Eligibility (CoE) needs to get to you.  Without it, you cannot apply for a student visa to Japan.  If you already bought plane tickets, fill out the "Arrival Information Form" (also online).  If not, fill that out soon as you confirm travel plans.

      3. Rejoice; you get to send more stuff out through expensive international postage. :|  This time, with another international postal money order (IPMO), pay US$250 to KG ($50 admission fee, $200 "enrollment confirmation" deposit).  The $200 will be counted as part of your tuition, so when you get to KG, you will pay $200 less than whatever the website says the tuition is. 8D
        This post-admittance batch of mail should be: Financial Guarantee form + IPMO (+ photocopy of passport if you didn't submit it when applying)

      4. K-GENESYS will have an update under "notes" once KG receives your money, so you can then stop stressing and imagining horrible scenarios where the envelope's been lost and now you'll never get to go to Japan and...
      5. During the months following admission (May through July), KG will start e-mailing with MORE EXCITING INFORMATION!  Stuff like: Housing Application (online, K-GENESYS; basically stuff to help them place you in homestay or dorms, hopefully with someone who won't drive you crazy); a link to the Admitted Student website (lots of important info there, especially relating to financial and insurance stuff); link to Cultural Interaction Programs website (how to apply for the home visit program, speaking partner program, etc.).  Even as you're ridiculously excited, remember to apply for stuff you want to participate in and submit all your forms on time. :)

        When everything you can do has been done, GOOD JOB.  Just be a good kid now and wait for your CoE~ (They'll e-mail you with a DHL shipment tracker once it's dispatched.)

      Applying to Kansai Gaidai

      As I considered, then applied, to Kansai Gaidai, the resources that were the most informative and helpful (besides some of the official info) were blogs--those written by current and former KG Asian Studies students. It was wonderfully reassuring to hear (real!) people describe their application, social, academic, etc. experiences. Hopefully, this blog, too, will be of use to other prospective KG students. :)

      Most of the student blogs are written by direct-exchange students--those who apply through their schools (which have an exchange agreement with KG). However, because my school is not affiliated with KG, I had to apply as an independent student. Though it was at first a really intimidating idea, now that I've gone through the process, I've realized it's not quite as daunting as it first may seem. In fact, certain aspects are simplified and far more efficient. But there are certain drawbacks, mostly relating to the payment of fees.  You'll see..

      Okay, enough intro-talk, here's a basic sort-of detailed outline of the process!

      Choosing Kansai Gaidai

      Nearly every college you apply to (at least in the USA, for sure) advertises the awesomeness of its "Study Abroad" opportunities. Which is really lovely, but gets kind of boring after the fourth or fifth college tour.


      As soon as I learned of this "study abroad" business, I knew this was something I wanted to do. My original plan (made junior year of high school) was to do a semester in Hong Kong, then a semester in Japan, totaling up to one year away from the US of A. This would be my junior year--freshman and sophomore seemed too soon, senior year...I wanted to graduate at school, yep. Well, plans change, and by the time sophomore year started, I'd decided to only go for fall semester. Now the question came down to where to go: Japan or some-Chinese-speaking-place? After some deep, exceptionally nerve-wracking consideration, I picked Japan.

      At first I intended to apply only to a quarter-long program at International Christian University (ICU), a university near Tokyo, through the UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP). However, one day in November, a poster on the bulletin board outside the Japanese tutorial room caught my eye--"Kansai Gaidai Asian Studies Program." Asian Studies Program. What's my major? Asian Studies. What part of Japan did I want to go to? Kansai (to be explained elsewhere). How perfect did this look? VERY.

      After a minute or so of staring (it was a very pretty poster), I copied down the website url, and went downstairs to the computer lab to check it out.

      Upon reading the first few info pages and taking a glance at the course offerings, it seemed so, so cool.

      And after further research, so, so expensive.


      For a while, I decided this wasn't really worth pursuing. ICU was a fine school, and the UC program there was a fine option, and the safety net of UCEAP would feel a lot more secure. But Asian Studies..and just seemed way too perfect.  Additionally, there were a ton of awesome blogs describing students having awesome-times at KG.

      In the end, I just decided to go for both schools, with KG as my first choice.  Why not?  This was going to be my only study abroad, I might as well try for everything I can.  And something's worth more when you have to work more for it, right?  Hopefully...