Name: Nick Christiansen
CBS study program: BSc in International Business
Exchange School: Rikkyo University
City: Tokyo, Japan
What is it like at Rikkyo University?
The school is almost 150 years old, and it feels like something from a movie. The campus is a variation of the old and modern. The campus even has an old church! The school has many different faculties, which offer many interesting courses. The classes are smaller, and the teachers are mostly foreign and really good. The staff at the international office is also really nice, and is always helping us. The school also hosts many events during the semester, like a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Was it easy to make friends?
It is easy to meet new people at Rikkyo, the school connects you to a mentor or buddy the first day you arrive in the university. The Japanese students are eager to learn about foreign cultures. The buddy program also hosts many events, like tours around Tokyo and parties. The buddy program makes it easy to connect with Japanese students, but also with other exchange students.
Do you like living in Japan?
I love living in Japan, the city of Tokyo is great. Everything seems so different at first, however with time you get used to it. The Japanese people are so nice and polite, and you always feel safe in the city. You can do, see, or try whatever you want in Tokyo, the city has everything. If you like shopping or food, Tokyo is the place to live. It is impossible to understand the size of the city; my university is located at Ikebukuro station, where 1 million people go through each day. The atmosphere in Tokyo is very unique, and the city is one of my favorites in the world. There are always things to do, and you can’t hardly find time to do everything.
Have you had any difficulties with the language?
Yes the language is very difficult, I tried to learn it in school, but I was so bad that the professor had to invent half the points for my test answers. I have since given up learning the language, because you can get far by being polite and smiling. It is difficult to communicate with older Japanese people, however, they will always try to help you, even if they do not understand you.
What is accommodation like? Do you have to find your own or does the school offer housing?
The school offers dorms and some of the dorms are located 20 minutes from the school, which is not far in Tokyo. But I decided to find my own place, because I had the chance to rent an apartment on short term, which is really cheap. The dorms also have the disadvantage of having some rules, like no entrance after 12 in the night and no visits by the opposite gender. But I have heard that they are not strict, and the trains stops at 12, and starts in the morning, so the time rule is okay.
What electives are you taking and do you like them?
I am doing four different marketing courses, all of them have a different take on the Japanese market. One is about marketing strategy in Japan, another is about the consumers in Japan. I also take Intercultural Business Management, and Human Resource Management in Japan, which are very relevant for my study program at CBS. I also have Japanese and East Asian Business Environment, which is focused on social entrepreneurship in Asia. My favorite course is Creative Industries in Global Markets, where we learn about industries like music and fashion. There is a midterm in almost every course, and you have to participate at every class. The exams are different, some are assignments, others presentation.
What are the biggest differences between CBS and Rikkyo?
The biggest difference is the structure of the classes, because at CBS we are around 150-160 students at one lecture, whereas at Rikkyo we are only in average 40 students. I believe that you learn more from the Japanese structure, and it is easier to engage with the professor. Furthermore, the structure demands that you have done your homework, otherwise it is difficult to participate. I also feel responsible to come prepared to class, because I am a part of making the class interesting, and the professor is counting on my inputs. At CBS it is easier to hide behind the computer, and it is difficult for the professor to engage with the students due to the large classes.
What have been your coolest experiences so far?
I think the time when I snuck my way into a fashion show, and even managed to smuggle my brother and his girlfriend into the show as well. The show was only for people with an invitation, and it is was a part of Tokyo Fashion week. Sometimes you just have to play the foreigner card, and the “Do you speak English card”, miscommunication can sometimes be your friend. Another cool experience was when I meet a Japanese businessman in the metro; we were both drunk, and stopped at the same station. We went out for more alcohol, and he kept calling his girlfriend, to tell her about his new Gajin (foreign) friend.
Why should other CBS student go to Japan for exchange?
How many times in your life do you get the chance to live in one of the world’s biggest cities, and attend one of the best university in the country? The university is perfect, and the city is out of this world. Everything is so different, but in the best possible way. You go drinking beer while feeding a penguin, or go hiking in the mountains, or shop around for the newest fashion, all in Tokyo. You won’t believe your own eyes, everything is possible here.