You Know It’s Official When the Letter Is In Japanese…

YAY! The final hurdle has been crossed and I have at long last received my official acceptance package from Keio University!

Still in my work clothes but holding up my final acceptance letter with a smile!

I wish I could say that was overcome with excitement when the letter was finally in my hands… but I have to say that I think my mind is still in a state of shock. This is really an event that I’ve been looking forward to for a full 3 years and now that I have achieved my goal, well, I think it’s just going to take a little longer to sink in. My brain just can’t quite wrap itself around the reality that I’ll be in Tokyo for a year in just 2 short months!

Despite receiving the last green light to head on over to Tokyo I still have some things I need to do in preparation for my trip:


1. Apply for a Visa – Although I have successfully renewed my passport I still need to obtain a student visa since I’m going to be there for a year. To do this I still need my Certificate of Eligibility, which Keio should send to me by mid-July. The certificate pretty much shows that I will in-fact have a reason for staying in Japan as a full-time student. Once I obtain that then the Visa process shouldn’t be too difficult – although it will require that I make the 3 hour trip to Detroit, Michigan and back to apply to the Japanese Embassy in person – THAT will be a fun car ride I’m sure.

2. Book a flight – While I’m sure that almost all the other Allegheny study abroad students have their seats on the plane picked out by now, I have held off on booking a flight because I needed the official dates for when I should arrive in Japan (not to mention I needed the final letter to say I was actually going!). It’s a good thing I waited as I originally planned to arrive on the 9th but in order to move in to the student housing I will need to arrive sometime between September 4-6th. I will most likely start traveling on the 4th or 5th and end my journey on the 5th or 6th as I will gain a day when I go to Tokyo.

The contents of my acceptance package@
The contents of my acceptance package!

3. Decide what to pack and HOW I am getting it to Tokyo – As a person who ALWAYS overpacks it’s going to be hard for me to decide what exactly to bring to Tokyo. I doubt that I will bring much other than the bare necessities and some clothes – most of my books, toiletries and food will have to be bought once I arrive. Ideally I only want to bring what I can carry/roll by myself when I travel from Narita airport to my dormitory (which I have applied for but still have to wait and see where I am placed).

4. Study the language – Don’t let anyone ever tell you that Japanese is easy because it’s NOT! However I am doing my very best to become conversational before I leave so that I will have a base to build off of while I’m studying there! Thanks to my parents I have been able to learn through Rosetta Stone over the past year – the hardest part is making sure I am consistently doing the lessons on my own!

5. Study the culture – The last important thing I really want to try and do is make sure I know about Japanese culture, particularly sports, politics and pop culture, before I arrive. There is a pretty strong stereotype of Americans who don’t take interest about other countries because they are too focused on themselves/their own country to care. If you’ve read my previous entry you’ll know that one of my primary goals is to learn and adapt to the foreign culture of Japan – so I really want to make sure that I don’t fall into this stereotype.

I hope you’re as happy as I am to be a part of this journey with me!

– Elena N. Potts