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Nagoya University Study Abroad Office, Educational Center for International Students Study Abroad Handbook for Nagoya University Students For People Who Have Decided to Study Abroad The World Is Your Campus!
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Nagoya University Study Abroad Office, Educational Center for International Students Study Abroad Handbook for Nagoya University Students For People Who Have Decided to Study Abroad The World Is Your Campus! Nagoya University Study Abroad Office, Educational Center for International Students Study Abroad Handbook for Nagoya University Students For People Who Have Decided to Study Abroad Nagoya University Educational Center for International Students Study Abroad Office March, 2009 Preface In the first part of this handbook, For People Who Have Begun Thinking of Studying Abroad , we provided information aimed at helping you turn an indistinct interest and list of things you want to do on a study abroad program into a specific plan. In this second part of the handbook, For People Who Have Decided to Study Abroad , we will move you towards executing that plan while providing hints as to how to prepare so that you maximize the benefit you gain from your study abroad program. You will also find FAQs and columns written by former study abroad program participants in the relevant chapters. Study abroad programs are not just about simply going. While you may want to increase your English ability, aimlessly participating in language study does not guarantee you will get results. Studying abroad entails leading a new lifestyle in a different cultural environment while studying and conducting research in an educational system different from Japan's. It also involves deciding on an approach to the stress you will inevitably feel: will it help you grow, or will it serve only as a trying experience? This decision will differ depending on the attitude you take towards the program before you go and while you are there, as well as how prepared you are. This handbook provides information commonly considered critical to realizing the aims of a study abroad program and maximizing the results achieved, regardless of whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, what your aims are, or how long you stay. What is the most critical thing to enhancing the results of a study abroad program? Always ensuring your own health and safety. The aforementioned stress and differences in social customs, climate, food, and other areas of life will make you more susceptible to poor physical health. Unexpected sicknesses and injuries requiring hospitalization may be something you experience. And there is no guarantee that you will not be involved in a major disaster, terrorist act, or crime. It is important to not ignore these possibilities, and know in advance how to avoid these things and what to do should you find yourself in such situations. One of the things this text emphasizes is the prime importance in any study abroad program of coming home healthy in body and mind. Many feel a resistance to coming home halfway through a program, but there are times cutting a program short and coming back based on an assessment of yourself and surrounding environment. Towards the end, this text also discusses various points to note once a student has finished a program and returned home. From developing the resolve to acclimate to a foreign culture to gathering all the information you will need, you will make many preparations when studying abroad. But what about after you come back to Japan? After coming home, some will feel great stress from inexplicably feeling out of sorts when having normal conversations with friends and family, or from noticing disagreeable things about Japanese culture. Attention is rarely given to this re-entry shock or reverse culture shock , as it is called. However, because the period just after returning home is critical for reflecting on and applying to your future what was achieved in the study abroad program, an effort should be made to understand the workings of re-entry shock and develop a frame of mind to allow you to move beyond this period. In a sense, returning home is the next study abroad program . There is more to what a person takes away from a study abroad experience than what was learned while overseas. Both the period of preparation before leaving and the period after coming home will, depending on your frame of mind, be just as valuable to you as your time spent overseas and serve as opportunities for personal growth. It is our hope that this text will be of assistance to you in these endeavors, from before you leave to after you get back. Bring it with you overseas and refer to it from time to time. Study Abroad Office, Educational Center for International Students March, 2009 Study Abroad Handbook for Nagoya University Students: For People Who Have Decided to Study Abroad Table of Contents Preface 1. Preparing for the trip 1-1 From program application to departure 1-2 Enrolling in a graduate school abroad Organizing your reasons for wanting to attend Applying for scholarships Preliminarily contacting people involved with the program Applying to multiple programs 1-3 Making use of a student exchange program 1-4 Using the preparation period to maximize study abroad program results Studying and researching a specialized field with commitment Proactively communicating, regardless of language spoken Becoming able to talk about Japan, your hometown, and yourself Finding a personalized way of dealing with stress Considering study abroad goals together with a future career plan Advice from former participants: What to bring from Japan 2. Safety management overseas 2-1 Personal safety and crisis management 2-2 Crisis prevention behavior Learn effective crisis prevention behavior locally Observe local laws, and understand and respect culture and customs Continually acquire multifaceted information Always inform your whereabouts and be reachable by others Do not be too quick to trust strangers Stay away from drugs Understand your own health-related peculiarities when entering new environments 2-3 What to do when crisis hits 2-4 Tending to poor health and sicknesses Getting over jet lag Adjusting to climate changes Adjusting to food changes If you have a chronic disease or allergies Seeing a medical care provider Advice from former participants: Health management and recovering from poor health 2-5 Adapting to foreign cultures and maintaining mental health Adapting to foreign cultures and dealing with culture shock 2-6 Cross-cultural communication skills School culture differences How to deal with stress 2-7 Informational website for safety management 3. Returning home 3-1 Before leaving Procedures related to visas and residence status Saying farewell to university staff 3-2 What is re-entry shock? 3-3 Reflecting on your study abroad experience Submitting a Study Abroad (Return) Report Experience report from former participants at study abroad information sessions, etc. Participating in international exchanges at Nagoya University My study abroad experience: Pre-departure memos My study abroad experience: Memos during the program Emergency contact memo 1. Preparing for the trip 1-1 From program application to departure Once you have thought about where to study and decided on a specific program, you will begin completing the required procedures. This section discusses the specific procedures involved and points to note before departure. Please keep in mind that procedures may be done in reverse order or carried out simultaneously depending on the circumstances of the program. How much time you have to prepare will depend on the program. It may take only two months to complete the simpler procedures for a short-term language study program, whereas getting into a graduate school may require a preparation period of more than two years. Exchange student programs through Nagoya University will also require preliminary internal screening. 1. Looking into and deciding where to go Before leaving, you will need to satisfy certain conditions such as taking a language proficiency test. (See the first part of this handbook, For People Who Have Begun Thinking of Studying Abroad , for more information) 2. Obtaining a passport You will need a passport to travel overseas. As you will be asked for your passport number and other such information during the application process, the first thing you should do after deciding on a program is obtain a passport. Japanese passports can be obtained, renewed, or amended at passport application centers located in every prefecture. Please see the below information website for more information about passport application in Aichi Prefecture. Aichi Prefecture Website (click on the Kurashi ( 暮らし ) Passport/Kokusaika ( パスポート 国際化 ) menus) Website for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan 3. Applying for scholarships In many cases, you will need to apply for study abroad scholarships before completing application procedures with a university. The application period for many scholarships will already have ended by the time you receive your university admission permit. Begin looking for available scholarships early and apply for as many as possible. 4. Completing application procedures for the study abroad destination university Check the websites for the study abroad destination university or educational institution and fill out and submit the necessary documentation. Unlike Japan, hardly any overseas universities have entrance examinations. But they will require academic transcripts, certain language proficiency test scores, a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, etc. which will be reviewed to determine whether or not you received an admissions permit. There are now many more universities that allow students to apply online or via PDF file attachment instead of mailing documentation. Applying for lodging may also be done at the same time. 5. Obtaining an admission permit You will need an admission permit as a supporting document when later applying for a visa. Once obtained, your permit should be checked to ensure there are no errors with your name, birth date, period of stay, etc. as stated. If you find an error, contact the issuing organization right away. Other materials will also be sent along with your admission permit. Read this material carefully as there will be important information about applying for your visa and accommodation. 6. Finding a place to stay Applying for a language study or exchange student program will almost always entail automatic application for lodging in that educational institution's dormitories. In all other cases, you will need to secure your own lodging. The university or educational institution can help you find lodging in one of their dormitories, an apartment, with a host family, etc. I have decided on a university and have tried to find information about admissions procedures on their website but cannot find anything. Overseas universities' websites have become very robust in recent years, and everything from course subject lists to information about lodging and services for international students can be quickly accessed. However, we often hear that people get lost on these websites due to the sheer amount of information. While at first it may be difficult to read information about a university in the local language, doing so is one of the things we recommend most as a simple and effective way of preparing for your stay. Have perseverance and make an effort to read through without giving up. When looking into entrance procedures for universities in English-speaking regions as an international student, there are a number of key words it would be useful to keep in mind. If there is a section for prospective students , this is how to access information for those looking to enroll with the university. You may then also find sections for international students and international admissions . For exchange student programs, you may find pertinent information by looking for exchange students or study abroad students . If going through admissions as a general student, two useful keywords will be visiting students and transfer students . For universities in non-english-speaking regions, the amount of information provided in English is very often less than that provided in the native language. We therefore recommend you make the effort to read those pages in the native language, if possible. 7. Applying for a visa The kind of visa you will need will differ depending on the country, period of stay, your social status and other factors, even for the same study abroad program. Check websites for countries' embassies in Japan for information about necessary documentation, procedures, costs, and how long visas take to be issued after they are applied for. Also, the embassy or consulate you should visit may be designated based on the region you live in. As you may only be able to apply on certain dates at certain times, make sure to thoroughly investigate beforehand. Some countries may allow a travel agency to apply for you, but in most cases you will be required to visit the embassy or consulate in person. Some countries can issue a visa on the same day you apply, while some countries can take months. If you are going to be studying in a country that takes time to issue visas, make sure you factor that in and apply early. Websites for foreign countries' embassies in Japan: 8. Getting plane tickets You will generally only want to purchase plane tickets after you have received your visa. Nevertheless, it would be a good idea to check flight availability and airfare and reserve a flight while applying for your visa at the same time. To be on the safe side, you should first receive your visa before purchasing a plane ticket if there is a possibility of not being issued visa. 9. Getting insurance Medical fees overseas can be expensive. In the U.S., for example, an appendectomy will cost 6 million for surgery and hospitalization fees, and a traffic accident could cost more than 30 million for ambulance services, surgery, hospitalization, and rehabilitation. When traveling overseas, you will need to apply for accident insurance. A wide range of insurance companies offer overseas travel insurance or international student insurance . Compare coverage and prices before purchasing. With travel insurance provided through credit cards, required healthcare costs will not be covered in many cases. Make sure to check the details and ensure that you will at least have sufficient coverage of medical expenses. 10. Departure and arrival If the educational institution where you will be studying has designated an arrival date, try to arrive on that date. Otherwise, try to arrive one day before orientation. Your dormitory may not be available if you arrive too early so look into this when setting your flight date. After arriving, follow instructions given by the university (orientation, etc.) and complete local residency procedures and student, dormitory, and course registration procedures with the university. Student services differ with not only the country but the university as well. Should you need any help, contact the study abroad program coordinator or someone at the international exchange office or similar organization in charge of student services at the local university. Other: Travel and temporary returns home during a study abroad program When traveling to another country or temporarily returning to Japan during your stay, keep in mind that you may need to acquire a visa for reentry into the country where you are studying. Column: Losing application documentation This happened to me when I was completing entrance procedures for a graduate school in the U.S. I had submitted all required documentation safely before the deadline and was just calmly waiting for the results. But when July came, I still had not received them. Thinking it odd, I asked a professor who I was looking to study under about it. He told me that while they had a record of my application, all of my documentation had been lost during transport by internal university mail and had not been reviewed. Fortunately I had copies of all the paperwork, which I immediately resubmitted. I requested they be reviewed and managed to pass the final review board, ultimately being granted admission to the school. I wonder what would have happened had I taken it upon myself to inquire into the issue? Or if I had not made copies? It is scary to think about that, but it was a confidence booster to learn that I could get things going by initiating communication. (Miki Horie, Educational Center for International Students) 1-2 Enrolling in a graduate school abroad More and more people are graduating from Nagoya university and going on to a graduate school overseas to acquire a master s or PhD. This section will focus on the aforementioned process and discuss things to be aware of when going on to a graduate school. Organizing your reasons for wanting to attend a university In contrast to Japan, where a written test and interview are generally required, overseas universities admissions procedures almost always consist of submitting written documentation (and, occasionally, a telephone interview). These documents include academic transcripts, proof of linguistic proficiency, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. Among these, the one you will want to take the most time with is the statement of purpose. There are other terms for the statement of purpose including personal essay, but they are all focused on the same thing: explaining why you want to attend a certain program. The admissions committee will look most closely at how you are able to logically explain what you have accomplished so far, what you want to do in the future, how you view the skills and knowledge you will need to accomplish this, and how the program you are applying for fits into the whole picture. For the applicant, the goal of this statement of purpose should therefore be to explain your specific circumstances with solid logic and persuade the admissions committee. Simply expressing your passion and enthusiasm abstractly will have no effect. Tell them, specifically, why you need to participate in this program and what you are doing to prepare. Make sure several people look your statement of purpose over before you submit it. Without input from others, you may include logical fallacies or neglect to mention important issues because, for you, they do not bear mentioning. Ask someone who does not know of your study abroad goals or plans and have them check for logical consistency in your statement of purpose. For specific strategies in writing your desired course list, reference books are available for borrowing from the Study Abroad Office. Applying for scholarships If your goal is to acquire a degree, you will have even more opportunities to apply for scholarships than you would for other kinds of study abroad programs. The two main categories for such scholarships are those from Japan and those from the country or university where you plan to study. As the application period, conditions, etc. for both vary from place to place, you are advised to begin gathering information two years before you plan to start studying abroad and begin making preparations early enough to meet deadlines. You will be required to submit your admissions permit when applying for a scholarship from Japan (the national government, local government, or foundation). However, because you will need to apply very early for these scholarships, it will sometimes be impossible to submit your admissions permit in time. In such cases, even if you have not yet received your admissions permit, copies of s with faculty members at the university are generally accepted as substitutes (with admissions permits submitted as soon as they arrive). Preliminarily contacting people involved with the program To create a more convincing argument in your statement of purpose, it would benefit you to first speak with those involved with the program about iss
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