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 Frequently Asked Questions
 
 
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What are the application steps for the UNO-Japan summer program?
  • Apply for the program online.
  • Upload your photo and fill out the medical history form as directed by the instructions on the page linked above.
  • As soon as we receive all completed forms we will contact you regarding your status.
 
After I have a space on the program, what happens next?
  • You will receive more information in the mail, e-mail and over the internet which you must complete.
  • We will continue to communicate with you about upcoming deadlines as we go along.
  • Apply soon, as space is limited!
 
When should I apply for a Passport?

NOW!  Do not wait. It can take from two days up to many weeks to get a passport. This is very urgent. Please check to see that your passport has not expired.  Your passport must be valid for when you return into the United States.  You will have to pay an extra fee to have it mailed to you in time for the trip if you apply late.

You may apply even if you do not have a passport. Just make a notification of this, as well as your plans to get the passport, in your application.

 
How do I get to Kyoto?

There are many ways to get to Kyoto from the U.S. Because Kyoto does not have its own airport, you will probably fly into one of the airports in Osaka: Kansai International Airport (KIX), or Itami Airport (ITM), formally known as Osaka International Airport.

KIX is the fancy new airport built on the water, and is most likely the airport used for international travelers. Savvy travelers, however, may find less expensive flights from the U.S. to Itami. Check it out!

There are trains from KIX and ITM to Kyoto Station. Go to each airport's web site or do a web search to find that information. Be sure to notify us of your arrival information so we can try to meet you at Kyoto Station.

If you choose to fly into Tokyo and take the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto, that can be fun! You pass Mount Fuji along the way (although during the hazy days of summer the view may be obscured). Think about purchasing a rail pass (http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/index.html). It may save you money, especially if you will be doing any more traveling than that. These rail passes must be purchased from overseas, and are often have limitations, so plan ahead and read carefully!

Visit our Where To Go page for more information. Please note that this information is changing as we gather more information. Be sure to re-read from time to time, especially right before you leave.

 
What do I pack for the trip?

A complete list is in the Student Guide that all registered students will receive.  Do not bring too much! We know from experience that it is better to travel light. When in doubt leave it out!  If you plan on bringing back gifts and goodies for your family you will need room in your suitcase on the return trip. Remember it is only a few weeks in Japan; you do not need 10 pairs of shoes or 6 pairs of blue jeans. Also, Japanese clothes dryers are typically not as powerful as American ones, so pack light clothing that drys well.

Note: You can run into problems with Customs by bringing a lot of clothes. They may think you are trying to sell them on the black market! No joke!

Another important item to include in your packing list is medication. You should pack enough of any medications that you take regularly to last for the duration of your stay, and bring them in their prescription containers. If it is medication that you rely upon for survival (i.e., insulin), bring extra with you.

Note: Some medicines commonly used in the U.S. are restricted in Japan. These include any medicines containing Methamphetamine or Amphetamine. Also, medicines with more than 10% Pseudoephedrine are illegal (Sudafed, for instance). Further information on restricted medicine, as well as other things you may travel with to Japan, is available through the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco.

 
What kind of internet access will I have?
You will have high-speed internet access in your room. Make sure you bring a LAN cable with you to access this (available at most computer stores). Internet access is included in the price of your room. There will also be wireless internet access in most student areas on campus. It will be difficult for you to use the Japanese computers on campus, so if you are dependent upon a computer, bring your own.
 
 
What about electricity?

The voltage in Japan is 100 Volts, which is different from the U.S. (110V). Japanese electrical plugs have two pins, as shown below. They fit into North American outlets. Japanese power outlets are identical to ungrounded (2-pin) North American outlets. While most Japanese outlets these days are polarized (one slot is slightly wider than the other), it is possible to encounter non-polarized outlets in some places.

ImageSome North American equipment will work fine in Japan without adapter and vice versa, however, some sensitive equipment may not work properly or even get damaged. If you intend to purchase electronic appliances in Japan for use outside of Japan, you are advised to look for equipment specifically made for overseas tourists.

If you bring a device with you that has three prongs, bring an adapter and it should be fine. Especially for laptop computers, which generally include electric converter boxes.
 
What is my mailing address in Kyoto?

 

In Japanese

〒602-0932
京都市上京区新町今出川下る徳大寺殿町345
同志社大学継志館 
JAPAN 

In romanized transliteration

Doshisha University Keishi-kan
345 Tokudaijiden-cho 
Shinmachi Imadegawa Sagaru 
Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 
602-0932 Japan

 
How much money do I bring?

We recommend about $200 - $300 a week depending on the exchange rate.  This should cover evening meals and weekend travel expenses. This is only an estimate. You will have to decide on how much you will need!

 
Is there a housing curfew?

There is no housing curfew in place when we arrive. However the University of New Orleans reserves the right to enforce a curfew if it is deemed necessary by program administrators. Japan is a highly community-oriented society and the housing is located in a quiet, friendly neighborhood. Students' behavior reflects not only upon themselves, but also upon the program, the University of New Orleans, and Doshisha University.

It is critical that our students exercise good judgement in their behavior at all times, which includes walking through the neighborhood surrounding the housing. Raucous behavior will not be tolerated and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. This could possibly result in a curfew being enforced after the program has begun.

 
Are there scholarships that I can apply for to help me pay for the program?

The Gilman Scholarship might be one option for Pell Grant recipients. For more information, click here.

Freeman-ASIA does offer a scholarship to use towards study in Asia. Unfortunately, we have discovered that our program is not long enough to qualify. But if you're thinking of participating in longer programs later, you may want to read over the information here.

There are many funding options available for UNO students, such as the UNO Ambassador Awards, the Agnes Levine Memorial Awards, or the UNO SG International Study Abroad Awards. Information about these awards and more can be found here.

 
How do I handle my money while traveling?

One very important item of consideration when planning your trip is money. Carrying around a lot of cash is risky, although in Japan it is more commonly practiced, as it is much more of a cash-based economy than the US. Many places do not accept any method of payment besides cash.

The best method for money exchange is through ATM machines. There are certain places in Japan that have international ATMs (one of the best and most convenient places to find ATMs that accept international cards is in 7-11 stores, which are very common). These typically offer the best rate of exchange and can sometimes be accessed twenty-four hours a day. If you don't have one, apply for a debit card now. This allows you to access your bank account funds from wherever you are. It is important that your debit card has a Visa or Mastercard logo, or the Cirrus or Pulse logo or combination of both on the reverse of the card. These are the international networks for ATM machines. If your card has Plus it may or may not work overseas. Please contact your bank for more info on the Plus network.

The benefit of using an ATM rather than changing cash at a money changer is that you often will pay no fee or a very small fee to your bank for the exchange. Most money changing businesses either charge you a fee, or jack up the exchange rate so they can make money. It is always a good idea to know your bank's policies on charging you for using an ATM overseas.

It is also a good idea to notify your bank that you will be using the card overseas and may be making larger cash withdrawals than you normally would. Such transactions are sometimes seen as a sign of card and/or identity theft and sometimes banks will block the cards in order to protect you and your account.

Traveler's Checks also are also an alternative, but not recommended as much anymore. If you use Traveler’s Checks, record the check numbers so you will easily be able to report exactly which checks are missing, if necessary. Keep part of your supply of checks in a separate location; if you have the misfortune of losing checks, at least you won't lose them all. Remember that most banks in Japan are closed on weekends, so plan ahead to avoid problems. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the UNO-Japan Office.

We advise you to contact your bank regarding withdrawals or credit card usage from overseas.

 
What is the exchange rate and how do I figure out how much things cost?

The exchange rate changes daily, and has dipped recently, but stays somewhere around 100 yen to the dollar, give or take 20 yen. One of Mary's favorite web sites for exchange rate information is Oanda. Not only can you plug in the exchange rate you want, but then you can print out what's called a "cheat sheet." Mary likes to print this out just prior to leaving the US, cut it out, and laminate it. She carries it in her wallet for handy reference. If you're not a numbers person, this might help you keep a handle on knowing how much money you're spending - especially if the exchange rate is not 100 yen to the dollar.

Current exchange rate: 1 US Dollar = 109.21 Yen

There are other exchange rate web sites out there. Do a web search and find which one works best for you.

 
How much do I tip?

Tipping is not customary or appropriate in Japanese restaurants, taxis, or pretty much anywhere. Get used to not tipping!

 
Should I get a rail pass?

The Japanese are famous for their trains. Because Japanese taxis are very expensive, with charges for distance and time spent in traffic, trains are the best method of transportation. Depending on your travel needs, you will want the right pass for trains. For more help on this topic, visit the japan rail pass website.

Note: you will not need a rail pass for the time during the program. You will receive a Kyoto City Buss pass for 30 days during the time that you are on the program. The rail pass is good for travel when not on the program, or if you wish to travel outside of the city of Kyoto.

 
What about getting a cell phone?

This is a tricky question to answer, and your own cell phone (keitai) knowledge may trump ours, so make sure you do your homework. Some US cell service providers do claim to have service that works overseas, including in Japan. Be sure you check all fees that apply. This may be prohibitively expensive.

There are some services in Japan for cell phone rental and purchase. 

One company we recommend for rental phones is Piccell Wireless. Check out the website to find out more.

Two very competitive cell phone rental or sales companies is My Japan Phone and RentaPhone.

Prepaid Phones: Due to past criminal abuse of prepaid phones, phone sellers must now verify the identity and place of residence of their buyers. Some stores will accept foreign passports along with a hotel address as verification. Prepaid phones start around 5000 yen. Credit, which is used for outgoing calls, email, internet, etc. depending on what features your phone supports, must be purchased in advance. With most companies, incoming calls are free and outgoing calling rates are comparable to those of rental phones.

Credit can be bought at cell phone stores and convenience stores and is typically valid for two months. Phone numbers remain active as long as you have valid credit in your account, but will expire after four months to a year without use.

Other: Consider alternatives, such as using VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services such asLINE, Skype, or purchasing phone cards in Japan.

Fun facts: All Japanese keitai (cell phones) come equipped with software that will look up train routes and timing, searchable by many different criteria, such as quickest route, or fewest transfers, etc.

Also, charms that hang from ketai are very popular in Japan. You'll see folks carrying them around with all kinds of things hanging from them!!

Another note: It is impolite to talk on a keitai while on public transportation. What you will see is just about everyone sending text messages. Just imagine sending texts in kanji(漢字)... complicated!

 
What day should I arrive?
The arrival day is May 27, 2018, so most students should plan to arrive then. Once you book your travel, you should send us a copy of your itinerary. If you arrive within reasonable hours on May 28th, you will be met at Kyoto Station and assisted in getting to the housing. Then you will be checked in to your room and will have time to get settled. The next day is the on-site orientation, campus & city tours, and welcome party. This is a day packed with important information that no one should miss.
 
How do I set up accommodations if I am traveling before or after the program?
All students are responsible for arranging their own travel arrangements. The UNO-Japan office can help you to a limited degree. It is wise to make your travels plans prior to the start of the program - even if you are planning to travel after the program is finished.
 
Are youth hostels a good option?

Youth hostels can be both affordable and convenient. This can also be a great place to make new friends. There is no one way to describe a typical youth hostel in Kyoto. Some hostels are fairly quiet, and peaceful, while others have a fun and lively atmosphere. Some may have a mandatory curfew. It is recommended to book a room prior to checking in. For more help in choosing a youth hostel in Kyoto, Visit hostelworld or do a web search for youth hostels. Some students like to get the ISIC (International Student Identity Card), which sometimes grants you discounts on various things like hostels and museum admissions, etc.

 
When is the pre-departure orientation?
The 2018 pre-departure orientation will be on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at 5:30 pm in the International Center. Registered students should RSVP, and are encouraged to bring family members. For students who do not live in the New Orleans area, we will try to Skype you in for the meeting, and send you our pre-departure guide, and of course answer any and all questions on a case-by-case basis.
 
Is there an on-site orientation?
Yes. We spend our first full day there (May 28) taking care of the information you will need when you first arrive, going on campus & city tours to orient you to Kyoto, and having our welcome party. It's a full day, so get some sleep on the flight over if you can.
 
What is the weather like in Kyoto?

The weather in Kyoto in June is quite humid due to the rainy season called Tsuyu ( 梅雨, plum rain) that usually starts in the middle of June and lasts until the middle of July. The average temperature is 72.9°F. Bring light clothing but also a long-sleeved top to put on in air-conditioned facilities. Be sure to pack your rain gear!

Note: cute umbrellas are on sale everywhere in Japan starting at around 5-10 dollars (500-1000 yen), so if you want a nifty souvenir in the form of an umbrella, and don't want to pack one, consider buying it there. One thing is fairly certain: you will need an umbrella!

Another note: tsuyu is characterized as the "rainy season," but the rain is not generally summer thunderstorms like we get in New Orleans. It is usually a nice rain with low, gray skies. So you won't need galoshes or anything that extreme, and you needn't worry about flooding.

 
Do I need dress clothes?
Yes. You will need dress clothes for the opening and closing ceremonies.  Ladies will need a dress and/or skirt. Gentlemen will need a coat and tie. But otherwise, casual clothes are always fine for Kyoto. Note: Japanese fashion is very much a part of the daily life of the average university student, especially for girls.
 
Do I need to know Japanese?
No, but it is not a bad idea to learn a little before you go.  You do not need to know much, just the basics, i.e. thank you, please, you're welcome, excuse me, etc. People in Kyoto speak with a unique accent. Even if you study Japanese (standard Japanese) it can sometimes be difficult to understand them, although they tend to purposefully speak standard Japanese with foreigners. Many Japanese people in Kyoto can speak English, but when in Rome do as the Romans do. Try to speak as much as you can, it can be fun!
 
Is the water okay to drink?
YES! The water in Kyoto is fine! Tap water tastes great and it is healthy.
 
Do I really have to wait at crosswalks?
Yes. You can get a ticket for jay walking. Especially in Japan, it is not wise to risk getting a ticket for jay walking. Most people wait for the sign to change.  It appears that only tourists jay walk from what we have seen.  Your goal is to fit in with the Japanese setting as much as possible.
 
If I'm not a UNO student, how do I get my grades to my school back home?
If you are not a UNO student, grades will be automatically sent to your university in the weeks following the completion of the summer school. Please note that we can not send out official transcripts until we receive the room damage report from the dormitory. All students will receive an official certificate upon completion of the program.  All students grades will be sent to their university - NO EXCEPTIONS. If you have any questions regarding the transcript process please contact us at the UNO-Japan office.
 
I am graduating in the summer, and I'm not a UNO student. How fast can I get my grades?
Your grades will be sent to your university as soon as possible. We do not make any exceptions.  It may take a few weeks to get the grades into the system, printed on the transcripts, sent to your school, and to have your school enter them into their computer system, so please be patient.  Our advice: do not plan to graduate in the summer, or you may have to wait awhile. Also, grades will only be sent after we have received the room damage report from the dormitory. We try our hardest to ensure that your transcript is sent to your school as soon as possible.
 
Do I need a laptop computer in Kyoto?

We do recommend you bring a laptop on the program. The computers in student labs and facilities are all formatted totally in Japanese, so unless you read Japanese well, or are a computer genius, it will be fairly difficult to use these computers.

 
Do I need to bring my own bed sheets, bath towels, or pillows? How will I wash linens or clothing?
  1. Bed linens will be provided.
  2. Please bring your own towels or buy them once you arrive.
  3. Bean husk pillows will be provided, so bring your own if you are particular about your pillow.
  4. There are washing machines and dryers in the facility. Students will wash their own clothes, towels, and bed linens.
 
What are some outdoor activities in Kyoto?
Known for everything under the sun, from its Buddhist shrines, to electronics corporations and delicious foods, Kyoto is a favorite destination for travelers. Over a thousand temples still stand, as well as 17 World Heritage Sites and Imperial Parks which are perfect for a stroll (some information about them can be found here.). Two of the more relaxing things to do in Kyoto is visit the various Zen Temples and Kyoto Gardens. Besides, hiking is also popular in the northern mountains of Kyoto which is less than one hour from the city center.
 
Is Kyoto a safe city?

Kyoto is an extremely safe city. With a population of about 1.5 million, it has a very low crime rate.

As far as environmental factors are concerned, the ground is relatively stable, suffering little from the 1000 earthquakes that hit Japan each year (don't worry, most of them are too small to be felt). It is far enough from the Pacific and Japan Sea that storm surges aren't a problem, and the mountains that surround the city on three sides shear off most of the wind from typhoons. However, always make sure you are aware of your surroundings.

 
What is the attendance policy? 
It is extremely important that students attend class every day. The UNO-Japan: Study at Doshisha University summer program has high academic standards which we maintain on all our academic programs.  Students attending the UNO-Japan Summer program are not allowed any unexcused absences.  It is university policy to lower a student's overall performance by a letter grade or by a substantial amount for each absence over the allotted limit.  Only the Academic director can authorize an excused absence.
 
What do I do about my books?

Students are responsible for purchasing their books and transporting them to Kyoto. We do not recommend students mailing their books or other packages to Kyoto for they may get held up in Customs. The Customs agency can charge extremely high fees to release your shipments. Students can purchase their books from any source they choose. The list of the required books will be available in the course syllabus.

 
What is expected academically?
Students are responsible for attending class regularly, participating in class discussions, attending all required weekend field trips, and attending all weekday afternoon field trips. Students may not have access to computers to print papers, therefore all papers may be handwritten. Students will not be required to do research papers or extensive projects. Although students are not required to have read their texts while still in the United States, we highly recommend that students read and prepare as much as possible for their courses in the upcoming summer so that they will have more free time for travel.

 

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For more information, please call or email us.
Office telephone: (504) 280-6388; or UNOJapan@uno.edu