I waited quite the time until I was sure that I got used to the way of life here in Kyoto. So, now I can tell something of my daily life at the university and the dorm:
The university is quite big, there’s a lot of buildings that have complicated names that no one seems to remember, several cafés and cafeterias (super good food for quite cheap price!) and lots of staff you never see at Helsinki, like the bicycle parking aides. The buildings are in good shape, you can’t really separate between the old ones and new ones, the classroom equipment modern and functioning. Some big minus points come from stupid Wi-fi/VPN-connection, a.k.a the nerd’s nightmare, that has the lousiest network design I have ever seen and the main library that’s a sorry excuse compared to the university libraries in Helsinki. They mainly have only old books for the humanities and strict rule about only 10 pieces for two weeks that sometimes gets into the level of 5 for five days during the exam season. Overall, the place is nice and since the teachers are mainly great, life at the campus is sweet.
Usually, my lessons only begin at 10.40 or 13.00, since my language group doesn’t have any lessons in the first period. The daily schedule of Ritsumeikan is divided into several periods from around 9 a.m to late night. No one really has classes after six p.m., but there are some exceptions. One period/lesson is 90 minutes with 10 minutes break between the lessons. There is also a scheduled 50-minute lunch break. It is both good and bad, since this way it’s sure that you have time eat, but everyone’s at cafeterias at the same time.
In one day, there are only from two to three lessons, but there’s always some homework to do. The amount depends on the teachers, though. I felt like I should not spend all my time cramming books, but actually living, so I chose to take only three courses apart from the Japanese language classes. This way I can really concentrate on learning and using the language.
After the classes, I normally hang some time with my friends and other exchange students at the university, maybe go doing some sightseeing before returning to the dorm to study and to eat dinner. Conversations at the I-House tend to last until the night…
Weekends are somewhat similar: cycling around Kyoto, seeing friends, baking, cooking, studying… Sometimes people do small trips by night bus or train to neighboring cities and towns, like Osaka and Uji. Apart from JR, it’s actually quite cheap and convenient way to see Japan.
Until now, I have been really enjoying my stay here. The Japanese way of Christmas, New Year, all the small matsuris and strange happenings make the life here so vivid. Also, the Japanese culture and the people offer an endless show to enjoy. I have been really glad that I came here, made new friends from all over the world and learned a lot and grew up a bit already. Hopefully the next semester will be as fun as this!
A small addition: here’s links to videos about I-House 1: