Applying to be an exchange student

Last autumn I suddenly figured out that I really want to go study abroad and now was my change to apply to different exchange programs. After some pondering about destinations I chose Japan, since I had studied the language and was very much interested to experience the culture (and I still am).

The first applying process was a nightmare, lost of useless paperwork, dysfunctional web-pages (the universities I was applying and the portal used here in Helsinki which has big problems with correcting your information afterwards, though everything clears after calling the IT service personnel ) and mysterious course lists. I ran from campus to another on daily bases and tried my best to get all signatures needed. I got a lot help from administration, great thanks to there! But I don’t know if I would do that again.

Still, I was super happy to get the acceptance email in December. I spend a few hours on that night just jumping around and giggling in my room like a total lunatic. I got the permit to apply to the University of Ritsumeikan in the Kyoto!

The next phase, the actual applying, begin in the end of January. Ritsumeikan requires a lot of paperwork, again, but this was somehow simpler, since I had a clear to-do-list. The most bizarre thing was a chest x-ray to ensure that I didn’t have tuberculosis. Of course there was a letter of recommendation from a professor, language test results, a really difficult essay in Japanese, several copies of official papers, passport photos and lots  of forms to fill out. The deadline was in the beginning of March and then started the long wait for the actual results.

Ritsumeikan had screwed up something so this process lasted longer than what I had expected. I just got the first official acceptance email the day before and I’m still waiting for the papers to come in post.

When  looking back these months, I realize that I was quite stressed about whether or not I succeed to get a placement. It was hard, difficult and sometimes irritating, but getting to be an exchange student is worth it. It has for long been my dream to go to Japan and to study Japanese, so this September I’m finally going to do it!


I will try to describe my journey as an  exchange student in Japan in this blog. Hopefully you will be able to catch a glimpse of my experiences during my stay in Kyoto and continue to travel with me until I return home. With these words, let the journey begin!