Yesterday I received my long awaited Rikkyo University welcome packet. It contained almost all the information I had been just dying to know. Let me tell you, it was a lot of information, too much to put into one blog entry, so this post as well as the next few will cover everything I received. Below is a general idea of the stuff I was given so you can know what to expect, and I’ll work on going into more detail about many of the things in later posts.
Most importantly it contained my Certificate of Eligibility, which I needed in order to apply for my Visa. I quickly filled out the application, gathered the necessary documents, and got it in the mail. The typical processing time for visas at the consulate closest to me is 5 days, but can take as long as two weeks, so I wanted to take care of that right away.
I just now booked my flight. I know many people booked their flight as soon as they received the official acceptance email, but I decided to wait till I got my Certificate of Eligibility so that I knew I wouldn’t have any problems with immigration. I’d hate to spend$1,500 on a flight and then get denied entry into the country for some strange reason.
The cover letter of my welcome packet once again informed me that I had been admitted to Rikkyo for the Spring 2016 term. I had been admitted to the College of Science and was given an advisor.
I was also provided with an information sheet. The first part briefly talked about my visa application and made sure to emphasize that I should enter Japan with “College Student” status and not “Temporary Visitor” status, because if I arrive as a “Temporary Visitor” status, it can be hard to get it switched to “College Student” status. It also briefly mentioned orientation which is mandatory and will be conducted in English and Japanese separately (so I needed to choose which orientation I would attend). It then moved on to my arrival in Japan. Official move-in dates are March 22nd and 23rd, but I can arrive any time between March 22nd and 26th. Move in is up to 7:00PM, so if I arrive after 7:00PM, I cannot check into my room. I’d have to make other lodging arrangements for the night. They also stated that they do not have a service to pick me up from the airport, so I have to arrange my own transportation to the dorm. It then went on to inform me that any person who has an address in Japan for more than 3 months must enroll in National Health Insurance, so I will need to do that upon my arrival. Rikkyo also offers the Rikkyo Student Mutual-Aid Health Insurance Union Program, but I will be opting out of that since my university has already enrolled me for health insurance through HTH Worldwide.
The only thing I was hoping the information sheet would include but didn’t was the course catalog. I was really hoping I could look at the list of classes and get a rough idea of what my schedule might be like, but apparently the course catalog and related information will be emailed to me in mid-March.
On my original application to Rikkyo, I selected that I wanted a “buddy,” so I was placed in a “buddy group.” My group consists of me, a Chinese student, an Indonesian student and four Rikkyo students. I’ve been given all their email addresses that way I can reach out to them before I go and they’ll be there throughout the semester to help me adjust to daily life.
The welcome packet also contained a packet titled “Introduction to Daily Life in Japan.” That gave me a little more information on how I could arrange for transportation from the airport to my dorm. There is also a Baggage-Delivery Service where I can have my baggage delivered from the airport to my lodging. It also talks about opening a bank account, but I have decided not to open a bank account because even with going through Rikkyo, it will take a month or two to open (normally foreign visitors cannot open a bank account until 6 months after their arrivals). Since I’ll only be there for four months, I think it will be easier for me to just withdrawal/exchange money at an ATM. It then talked about the residency management system. When I arrive in Japan I will have a seal of landing verification stamped on my passport and I will be issued a mid to long-term resident card. Once I receive my resident card, I have to visit my local city/ward office and notify the Ministry of Justice where I live within 14 days. I also have to apply for one original “Certificate of Residence” which will include all of my information and submit it to the International Office. Since I’ll be staying in the Rikkyo dorms, there will be Rikkyo students to help me out with this application. Also at my local city/ward I will join the National Health Insurance Department which does have a small monthly fee. It then went on to say that when I enter Japan, I will be entering with a College Student visa only. If I wish to engage in part-time employment, I have to apply for additional permission at the Immigration Bureau. Obtaining this permit will allow me to work up to 28 hours per week.
Next was a general map of Ikebukuro campus of Rikkyo, an orientation schedule, and a breakdown of the different levels of Japanese courses.
Lastly, and probably most excitingly, was a notification that I was the recipient of the Dorm Fee Waiver, meaning that my dorm fee from April-July (a total of 214,800 yen) will be completely waived. I only have to pay for the few days I will be at the dorm in March.