Thinking about what it was like when I arrived here in Japan is making me think about the least fun thing there is – paperwork! The pre-departure organization process and starting everything took a while.
One of the first things you need to get organized is insurance. You should have traveler’s insurance, but if you go to Kansai Gaidai you’re also required to have a certain minimum coverage type. It’s something you should decide on before you leave since it’s hard to change your mind once you’re already in Japan. If you also have provincial insurance, go to a Service Ontario location and deal with that.
I chose to apply for Japanese National health insurance (国民健康保険) so after I got my address and everything, I biked to city hall. It looks easy on a map but it’s a really bad idea if you haven’t been before and don’t know what it looks like.
Don’t be like me! Bus there first! First you have to register your change of address, which is explained in your orientation package from the school. You have to do this whether or not you want Japanese National Health Insurance anyways.
There are a lot of online forms to fill out on the university website. Kansai Gaidai’s portal for students is called K-GENESYS. There are annoying factors like maintenance times where the site is being updated so if you’re living in a different time zone (like I was) you already have to start keeping time differences in mind.
Keep an eye out for plane tickets sooner rather than later!
There was other paperwork and forms to fill out, but these stand out off the top of my head.
All these things have different due dates. I ended up making a massive spreadsheet and organized it by due date. Each row had columns for what it was, the process by which it had to be done and costs in both CAD and JPY. Of course, the due date was also listed. Every time I paid something (like housing fees), I updated the spreadsheet to show what I had paid for and what I expected I still had to pay. This was insanely helpful, especially when I converted money to JPY before leaving. I had to know how much to bring with me so I didn’t get stuck. Not all ATMs here accept foreign bank or credit cards. I’ve been pretty lucky, but some of my friends can’t use the ATMs at school but can use the one at 7-11, or vice versa.
Finally, I would look into the area where you will be staying and try to get familiar with local shops/important places before you leave. I didn’t do this as thoroughly as I should have and I had to get help a few times to figure out things like getting to the train station. Knowing this also gives you an idea of what local places you may like to visit. Kyoto and Osaka are are both close by so places like Fushimi Inari Taisha, Osaka Castle and USJ aren’t difficult to get to.
Hopefully this is my last heavily process-oriented post! I’ll update you later on orientation and the start of classes!