I'm a student at Waseda Center for Japanese Language, ask me anything!

I started on Wanikani a couple of years ago, but only when the pandemic started did I really start practice every day. After a couple months of WaniKani and a whole lot of Italki sessions, I decided to take a break from Uni to study Japanese at Waseda, which if you don’t know, is a university in Tokyo. I’m enrolled in the one year program, and I am starting my second semester soon.
I know in the past there have been people curious about programs for learning Japanese on here, so I figured if anyone wants to hear about what its like, the application process, etc, from a current student, then feel free to ask!
Also if you are currently going to Waseda or are alumni, what’s up! :grin:

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I’m confused, Is it online? Or are you living in Tokyo?

This year for most students it is online, as it’s not a 4 year degree program, the Japanese government isn’t issuing visas for programs like it :frowning:
Edit: I should clarify even further that this includes me lol. I am not in Tokyo and that fact tortures me psychologically

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I am planning to be done with most of WaniKani and have also completed Genki books by the end of 2022 summer. it would be great if i can have a 1-2 months long intensive intermediate level Japanese learning course in japan afterwards. Do you think this would be possible at Waseda Center or somewhere else? Should i have a JLPT exam result for placement?

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Finishing most of Wanikani really is an accomplishment, and its going to give you a leg up over A LOT of the other students. I stopped at around level 40 because I got too busy during the semester but even at level 40 I knew alot of vocab and kanji that was super, suuuper useful. I also used the Genki books and they are a great starting point. Waseda CJL (to my knowledge) only offers one or two semester length programs, which is a more like 3-4 months. If it is not possible at Waseda, then you could definitely do a shorter one somewhere else, I am sure there are lots of great options, I am just biased towards Waseda :wink: You do not need a JLPT to place into classes at Waseda, they provide a placement test that will give you an idea of your level online and you use that to pick your classes (the test does not restrict the classes you can take, it just gives you a good idea of which ones would suit your level). I picked some classes a little bit above my level and a little bit below and it worked out fine for me!

edit: definitely do some online tutoring or get yourself used to hearing lots of Japanese before starting any JP program btw, most accept students from all over the world, so its entirely in Japanese

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Wow this is perfect. Thank you for posting on here! I’ve been planning to apply to Waseda for my master’s and thinking of taking the 2-yr International Business course (I’m an undergrad student and will be graduating in 2023). I’ve gone through their website and found out what documents I might need.

I’m curious to know how you find it. What expectations did you have and did it meet them all or is there something you ended up not liking? Also, how are the people there? I really want to be able to go there but I’m a little nervous because I’ve heard people aren’t that nice there? Also is it worth it getting an English MBA degree in japan over a japanese one from, say, Keio University for example? Also do they have an entrance exam?

Sorry for bombarding you haha😅 Take your time to answer!

Would you mind asking the wonderful Japanese government to open-the-borders ? Thank you !! xoxoxo

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Haha you’re good, I’ll try to answer all your questions properly.
So, it was kind of tough going into it because I didn’t know anybody there and it was really difficult to get a gauge on what it was going to be like. I knew from just doing some internet browsing that Japanese Universities can be kind of strict, etc but I was not working on a lot of information frankly. The first few classes made me panic really bad (lol) and I struggled really hard to get my shit together. All my classes are in Japanese, which I expected, but I am kind of shy so whenever I got asked a question directly by the teacher, at first I struggled to answer.

Luckily, literally every teacher I have had, and I had ALOT of teachers, was awesome. I feel like most university students do not like a few of their teachers, but even the worst teacher I had was still pretty great. Waseda university has a reputation for being pretty chill, especially in comparison to Keio/ Tokyo University/ etc, and that has held totally true in my experience. (Also at least 3 of my teachers I think literally wrote the textbooks they and many other university’s professors teach from, so you are definitely getting a high grade education at Waseda)

There are occasional moments of extreme directness from teachers (in one of my classes we all had to write paragraphs in Japanese, and then our teacher one by one read all our paragraphs, and after each one he would say “wow that was awful”. The funniest part is that we had a writing test the next period, and he was like “Good luck lol”) , but all in all, try your best and they will recognize that. There were never any moments in any of my classes where anybody was singled out unfairly, so I wouldn’t be concerned about anything like that. It’s usually more of just the teacher being frustrated with the whole class, and even that was pretty rare.

And also, while I am not living in Tokyo unfortunately, I have made lots of friends who are living there and we talk over LINE. Speaking from their experience, Waseda is just in a really great location. The area around Takadanobaba station for example has lots of cheap-ish restaurants that are popular with students, and I mean, the school is in Shinjuku, so I don’t really have to say more than that. Keio, which I also did research into while picking a school, also is in Tokyo, but I read a lot of experience from international students at Keio who had really long commutes.

As for the English MBA vs Japanese one from another good Uni:
There have actually been quite a few students in my classes who are getting their Master’s degrees, so you can definitely work on your Japanese and study in English at the same time. If you do want to study in Japanese, then you are almost certainly going to have to get N5 certification, and even then its going to be very difficult, but I have no doubt that it would be satisfying. I want to eventually be able to write short stories/ novels etc in Japanese so I’ve considered enrolling in Japanese taught programs after this upcoming semester too!

They do not have an entrance exam, at least for programs taught in English. In fact, none of the Universities I’ve applied to in Japan (Sophia University aka 上智大学、Keio, Waseda, Tsukuba) have made me take an entrance exam, which is funny because every single teacher from Waseda who has written a recommendation letter for me has also asked when I’m taking my entrance exam, so maybe it’s typical for Japanese taught 4 year degree programs but unusual for English taught degree programs?

I think that about covers it but feel free to ask for more details on any given part of it! I’m just binging WaniKani reviews tonight so I need something to distract me anyways :sweat_smile:

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I’ll try calling up the prime minister, but last time I asked he ghosted me, so we will have to see how it goes :rofl:

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Thank you so much! You gave me so much more than I expected haha I really appreciate the long post.

you mean N1 right? :sweat_smile:

I wish you all the best!

Also your teachers sound really fun to be taught by :grin: That directness you mentioned is something I actually appreciate from teachers and not being unnecessarily strict lol.

I’ve been really contemplating about whether to choose a Japanese mba or an English one. On one hand, there’s something about Waseda that keeps making me come back to it. Maybe I’m just unnecessarily fixated on something😅 On the other hand, the Japanese mba in Keio might give me a upper hand when looking for jobs in Japan? I still have time to pass N1 level by the time I graduate but I’m still wondering if I’ll really be able to handle writing a thesis in japanese.

Guess I’ll just go with my gut feeling at the end of it.

Also I’m a little relieved I don’t have to write an entrance exam for the English courses in Waseda. We’re anyway required to submit our GMAT or GRE scores and I think that’ll be taxing enough to study for along with studying for JLPT.

I have more questions if you don’t mind. How do you find the students there? I know you’re doing it online right now but were you able to interact with people from other courses? I’m just curious about the environment there. Also while applying, is there anything you think I should keep in mind that could help me get in? Like what kind of people do you think they look for? I know this is a difficult question but feel free to be as vague as you want haha. Thank you so much again this is extremely helpful :heart:

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Yes N1 not N5 hahaha I am numerically challenged :sweat_smile:

Also your teachers sound really fun to be taught by :grin: That directness you mentioned is something I actually appreciate from teachers and not being unnecessarily strict lol.

Yes they were all lovely! The curriculum is challenging, and the deadlines are strict, but it never feels unfair, because the professors and faculty are all very competent/organized, and literally as long as you read your email, you will always know what you have to do.

I still have time to pass N1 level by the time I graduate but I’m still wondering if I’ll really be able to handle writing a thesis in Japanese.

I definitely wrote nearly a hundred pages in single spaced Japanese text over the course of the last semester, and that’s with just wanikani and a couple of months of studying grammar. It was not easy and a native would be able to easily pick out a plethora of grammatical errors out of any given thing I wrote, but it was all understandable to some extent. With a lot of practice, you will be able to write a Thesis, but it is going to be a grind, and you are going to be able to write a thesis in Japanese for a long time before you can write a good thesis in Japanese.

For me, Waseda is a tremendously alluring school because its got a lot of clout in Japan and it’s where Murakami Haruki went to school, and I am a big admirer of his novels. Before I applied, I talked to my Japanese friends, and they all advised me to go to Keio; it is supposedly a better school on paper. But, personally, Keio just didn’t have the magnetic aura Waseda has. I’ve definitely mythologized it a bit, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. If anything, apply to both schools if you can! They are both top tier schools.

How do you find the students there? I know you’re doing it online right now but were you able to interact with people from other courses? I’m just curious about the environment there.

It’s been challenging but I have been able to make a lot of friends, inside and outside my own department. The class that I had most often, 総合日本語4 (Comprehensive Japanese 4), met 5 times a week and my class had like 4 Chinese people, a Taiwanese guy, 3 Koreans, a couple of Europeans, and a girl from Dubai. I would say a majority of them were in Tokyo and just taking the classes from their apartment/ dorms (lucky bastards). In my faculty, this was kind of the make up of all of my classes, just to give you an idea if you were curious. I come from studying international relations, so I kind of expected certain people to not get along because of where they were from (like politics over Hong Kong/ Taiwan/ China/ etc) , but all the students were very professional during class.

For me, it was tough to make friends because the only way to actually connect with people is to get their LINE etc at some point during the class, which is borderline impossible unless you go into groups, and it can be intimidating to ask a virtual room full of exhausted college students for their contact information too, lol.

There are tons of events organized by the University for international students that groups you up with other gaijin and Japanese students, I was so busy last semester I was not able to participate because I always had class, but I’m going to one this semester. Some of them are just talking, some of them are things like Yoga, サークル (clubs) related activities, etc.

So, among my classmates there were definitely a couple of characters (they kept things interesting), and everyone was very nice. In your International MBA program you’d probably have a similar make up of students. I had this one Korean guy had lived for like 10 years in Australia in one of my classes, and he had this really peculiar nihilistic sense of humor and was always 100% willing to speak his mind. I cannot count the amount of times he would just say some totally out of pocket shit during class and the teacher just sat there like: ( in one instance he told the teacher that he was just taking her class for easy credits; in another he said to a group full of women excluding me and him that women and men under no circumstances can be friends)

(in one instance he told the teacher that he was just taking her class for easy credits; in another he said to a group full of women excluding me and him that women and men under no circumstances can be friends, and he regularly alluded to his drinking problem)
He was totally the odd one out, but I found his forthrightness quite entertaining

All the students consciously made the decision to go to a Japanese University, so everyone has their reason for wanting to study in Japan as opposed to their home nation. Tons of people watch anime, play video games, etc, especially in the international programs, so if you like those things you will always have something to talk about. You have more motivated people and less motivated people, the usual. Overall its a nice environment!

I’m just curious about the environment there. Also while applying, is there anything you think I should keep in mind that could help me get in? Like what kind of people do you think they look for? I know this is a difficult question but feel free to be as vague as you want haha

So speaking honestly, I did not have the best grades in high school. I just was not really engaged with the material, and that shows on my transcripts. I was pretty worried about this going in, so when I was writing my essay here are the things that personally I highlighted:

  1. Academic Growth
  2. International experience (this is probably a big plus for an English program in Japan)
  3. Hard Work

My grades at no point have been like 4.0 GPA all A+s but when writing my entrance essay, I highlighted my academic journey and experiences internationally had already shaped me as a person, and how I wanted to continue that at Waseda. The University that I went to before happens to be this super unique, but not particularly prestigious, university where you travel in a different country almost every semester. So personally, I highlighted how each country had an impact on me, and how experiencing the cultures of different countries, and being personally impacted by international politics has affected by perception of International Relations as a whole.

Obviously, you probably have a different experience with your current university, but whatever it may be, pick out what makes it unique, and really focus on the challenges, then explain what going to school at Waseda (or any given Uni) means to you. I would use a really really light touch, but you can also allude to the University’s prestige. The person reading your essay is probably going to be an alumni, so in my application to Waseda SILS, I alluded to how highly I think of all the Waseda students/ faculty/ alumni I’ve met. Just don’t overdo it.

I also talked about how Waseda had always been where I wanted to go because it’s Murakami’s alma mater, and making that connection shows the reader that I have some level of emotional connection with the University, and I didn’t just pick it because it was #1 on a list.

Hard work is something that is kind of abstract in that it is hard to put into words while staying humble, but people know it when they see it. And from my time studying at Waseda, every teacher has basically been like “I know you have been working really hard, so I graded a little bit easier because of that/ etc.” You probably have read about how passing out on your desk in Japan is a sign of hard work in Japanese culture, and how brutal work is in Japan, etc. And I’m sure it is, I am not at all trying to justify any of the soul-crushing capitalist managerial practice, but in my experience at Waseda, teachers SERIOUSLY appreciate even the slightest bit of extra effort.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I always go overboard on writing for my classes because, even if its just for practicing some random words or grammar, I want what I write to be interesting. Every single teacher appreciated that effort, and it really came in handy because my grammar and vocabulary certainly aren’t perfect yet and I need every break I can get. I cannot give you any concrete examples of how to work this into an application essay for example, but it will help you immensely once you get in!

All in all, flex what makes you special, don’t lie about your weak points but distract from them with your progress etc. Look at your academics, if your grades are good then you are already halfway there. If your grades are not so good then work on that for the next two years and turn it into a success story for your essay. If you have experience living in countries other than your home country, I would recommend you work that in because you are going to be an international student in Japan and schools like a touch of cosmopolitanism, but if you do not that is totally fine, just focus on your stand out characteristics and you’ll be fine :cowboy_hat_face:

Thank you so much again this is extremely helpful :heart:

It’s my pleasure! Writing stuff like this is fun for me.
Just to clarify, there are application essays, but no entrance exams, for the programs I have applied to. And I assure you your essay probably won’t have to be any longer than my responses :rofl:
I hope it was interesting, or better yet useful 笑笑。

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By hand or by typing? Either way that’s an amazing feat. Writing anything beyond one or two sentences is nothing short of a challenge for me. Guess I need to work harder than before lol.

I feel you on that

It’s so cool how you got to travel so much! Travelling has been my dream since forever but I never got the opportunity to do any travelling abroad. It’s great that you were able to experience so many new things!

I love the story about the quirky Korean guy XD Sounds fun to be with hahaha. Random things like that really keep me going :rofl:

Also, it gives me immense relief to see that grades don’t matter as much as i thought they do. I see that they do, but I get to show some other aspects of myself too and I think that will be my biggest motivating factor. My grades weren’t all that great either. My focus was always extra-curriculars

I was aware that we were supposed to write an application essay but i assumed it would have to be really long. Glad to see it’s all good XD

But seriously though thanks for all the advice. I like the way you write, too. It made me giggle in some parts hehe. Anyway, this is really going help me make my decision and do my best from now. All the best with everything and let’s keep in touch!

I did the SILS exchange program a few years ago and it was the best year ever. :raised_hands: Waseda is a really a nice place to study (even online apparently)! Enjoy your second semester there :four_leaf_clover:

As Drewwaddell0 said, everyone got along despite coming from different countries. :blush: I loved being in an international environment (didn’t have that at my previous uni) with students coming from very different places. They were all very friendly and you can make friends during class, by joining a club or coming to events organised by the ICC (Intercultural Communication Center). They do Japanese language exchanges, [your language] language exchanges, cultural events and also you can just come to their room at lunch, sit with people there and get to know them :sparkles:

I also agree with the fact that Waseda is a pretty chill university!

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I would like to second this. If it helps I would like to confess I watch Japanese TV online everyday and have great respect for uncle Suga :smiley:

Highjacking this thread to ask if there are more people who are going to be attending Waseda from next year? I’ll be starting the Graduate program on Asia-Pacific Studies next fall and I’d love to hear from other people at Waseda (:

i am learning Japanese from Genki with help of an Italki tutor. it takes around 5 sessions to complete each chapter where we do all exercises in the textbook together as well as workbook exercises given as homework. she even quizes me on vocabulary section. she is killing me, which helps a lot.

i have recently started to read news on “Todai Easy Japanese” and create anki decks out of them. watching japanese tv shows have been part of my routine too. Right now i feel like it is the grammar that holds me back. but should be intermediate-ish by next summer. that is when i should be ready to fully immerse.

So you are studying online at Waseda, I guess you are either in Japan at the moment (maybe out of Tokyo) or in a timezone close to Japan to be able to attend lectures at certain hours ?

Sorry, someone probably already asked you this.