Message for future iUP students No.1
Why Kyoto iUP
First and foremost, Kyoto iUP presents the rare alternative of studying abroad in Japan without any prior Japanese knowledge, not to mention the fact that Kyoto University is a leading research university not only within Japan but also across the world. In addition to covering all tuition fees, Kyoto iUP offers a monthly scholarship of up to 120,000 yen. If you are hesitant to study abroad because of financial concerns, Kyoto iUP is a great option. Personally, I find the highlight of the program to be the substantial support for iUP students throughout our time studying here. As Kyoto iUP students, we each have a professor as an academic mentor to closely (and I mean closely) guide us through any troubles we might come across in our school lives. We also have a dedicated team of iUP staff members helping us with anything and everything concerning our daily lives. Studying in a foreign country whose language you cannot understand is as intimidating as it sounds, but with such solid support, you will definitely feel at ease here. For an Informatics undergrad like me, mastering Japanese brings about countless research and job opportunities in the expanding Japanese IT market. Kyoto iUP is an excellent way to step out of your comfort zone, widen your horizons, and unlock new opportunities.
Before applying I could not speak Japanese at all: Konnichiwa and Arigatou were the only words I knew. Kyoto iUP does not expect you to be fluent; instead, in around 2.5 years, you will reach a level where you can take the same classes taken by local Japanese undergrads. Before going to Japan for the preparatory course, Kyoto University pays for Japanese classes you can take in your hometown. During the preparatory course and the first two undergraduate years, you are going to take Japanese language classes offered by the university, alongside intensive classes taught by a team of Kyoto iUP Japanese professors and tailored to your individual level and needs. Lectures aside, being submerged in a Japanese-speaking environment is sure to considerably boost your learning. I would be lying if I said mastering a language in such a short period of time is going to be easy; it takes a lot of effort, but it is definitely worth it. Quite a few of the iUP students have started taking lectures in Japanese starting from Year 1, myself included, with plenty of assistance from Kyoto iUP, my department (the Department of Informatics), and the professors.
Life in Kyoto
Having lived in my hometown my entire life, I thought it would be really difficult to get used to the slow Kyoto way of life. Restaurants and shops generally close at around 9 and the streets are almost completely quiet by 10. It did take me a while to adjust before I can appreciate my new lifestyle. But it is precisely this peacefulness that has allowed me to slow down, reflect upon myself, and think about the future. Strolling along the Kamogawa river in a shower of cherry blossoms in early spring, gazing upon the summer night sky in the company of (mildly noisy) cicadas, biking to school on pavements softly coloured by autumn leaves, and pulling the curtains apart to see the quiet drizzling snow on winter mornings -- are just some of the little things that make me think, Kyoto is the place to live.
〈written by Kyoto iUP student in the Undergraduate School of Informatics and Mathematical Science, Faculty of Engineering〉