Student Voices (Ms. Han Eojin)

Ms. Han Eojin ※Using “Pre-arrival-Admission”

Got off to a Good Start in Japan where I Always Wanted to Study

1. Motivation to Study Overseas and Contributing Factors

I was fond of Japanese dramas and J-POP from my junior high school years, with that evolving into a keen interest in Japan’s culture. However, because I had absolutely no knowledge of the Japanese language through around my third year in high school, I was unable to enjoy such contents without Korean subtitles. At one point, I decided that I wanted to appreciate Japanese media without subtitles, as well as come into direct contact with the culture of Japan that I had only experienced on the screen up to that point.
It was also around that time that I began to dream of someday living in Japan, prompting me to take up Japanese language studies as a hobby of sorts. Based on this rather casual pursuit, I went on to prepare for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, which I managed to pass in a relatively short period of time. That further fueled my interest in Japan and Japanese beyond the status of a mere hobby.
I had not originally intended to attend college. However, from my third year in high school, when I began to think more seriously about my future, I reached the following conclusion: “If I am going to continue my studies, I would like to learn in Japan, a country to which I am keenly attracted”. As a result, I began my studies somewhat later than other students preparing for such college entrance exams.

2. Reasons for Selecting Region and School, Preparations before Traveling to Japan

Regarding Japan, I have always felt a strong attraction to the Kansai region. Having been born and raised in Seoul, I never sensed much difference between the Kanto region of Japan and my native Seoul. When I began to consider living in Japan, therefore, I figured it would be preferable to choose Kansai (which seems to better represent the true essence of Japan). That led to my decision to search for universities in the Kansai region.
In doing that, I discovered that Doshisha University offers the Faculty of Cultural and Information Science. I was attracted to this department, because it appeared to offer the opportunity to not only study culture, but also take classes in what was described as “information”. Further research revealed that the programs at this department are not limited to the “culture” of general media and art, but rather seek to treat the theme of “culture” as the full sphere of human activities.
This roused my interest in the prospects of conducting research utilizing the knowledge of data science learned as information subjects. I also sensed the appeal of attaining expertise in so-called “cultural information science” –a field of study unavailable at other universities in either Japan or Korea. Based on these findings, I decided to apply to this department at Doshisha University.

The building of Doshisha University Faculty of Culture and Information Science

The Christmas tree at the University Kyotanabe Campus

3. How I Prepared for the EJU

When I began my studies of the Japanese language, to gain a better grasp of spoken Japanese I watched Japan dramas, TV programs and other shows, while also listening to J-POP most every day. At that time, because I only knew the Hiragana and Katakana alphabets that I learned in my Japanese language high school class in Korea, I was not interested in merely enjoying Japanese media, my real aim was to watch program subtitles and song lyrics to become more familiar with the Kanji characters used in Japan, along with Japanese language expressions.
Watching Japanese TV programs was particularly helpful in my comprehension of rapidly spoken Japanese. This made it far easier to grasp the listening questions on the EJU, for which the speaking speed is slower and the pronunciation is clearer than normal Japanese language conversations.
Furthermore, with the Listening Comprehension portion of the EJU exam beginning immediately after the Listening-Reading Comprehension test, there is the threat of suffering a decline in your powers of concentration. It is important, therefore, to listen to the Listening Comprehension problems all the way through, doing everything possible to remain keenly focused on the content.
During my studies of the Reading Comprehension problems, I strove to memorize all of the questions, while directly reading and writing down the Japanese expressions, grammar and vocabulary that frequently appeared in the problems. To solve the Reading Comprehension questions, meanwhile, it is important to memorize a great deal of Japanese expressions, while also raising your reading speed. In my case, I used a stopwatch to speed up my response time.
In the Japan And The World and Mathematics tests, there are numerous areas that differ from the Korean high school curriculum. This made it vital to memorize everything. This was particularly true of Japan And The World. With the geography, history, economy and most everything else differing from Korea, there is a need to memorize all of these social subjects. Realizing that, I took the time to read books related to the Japan And The World contents, as well as search out the latest available materials to carry on my studies.

4. Classes, Student Lifestyle, Daily Life

- Classes and Studies
For me, the best thing about attending a Japanese university is, there is the ability to organize your own timetable around the classes that you want to study which is different in Korea. In Korea, in order to take the classes that they are really interested in, all university students must go online and register for those preferred subjects. Failing in this registration process, however, makes it necessary to take other classes outside of their core interests (despite paying the same tuition fees as other students).
Doshisha University also naturally has a “pre-registration” system. Truly popular classes are only open to registration by students who apply through that method, and are determined by lottery-style drawings. With almost all other subjects, however, because you can take classes related to your own major, there are no real barriers to enrolling in subjects that you really want to learn. In addition, although I had some trouble getting used to Japanese at first, as my courses progressed, I became increasingly more accustomed and proficient in the language.
Due to the large number of questions and tests, the university testing period turned out to be the busiest time of the academic term. As I prepared for such exams, however, I have been able to concentrate on the areas in which I remain inadequate while confirming my knowledge surrounding the “Culture and Information Science” that I am majoring in. This has been a key factor in supporting my academic studies.
- Campus Lifestyle
When I first arrived in Japan, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic forced students like me to isolate in designated living facilities. That resulted in receiving my visa and residence status later than other international students. I was unable to participate in the enrollment ceremony, and pursued my studies online through my second series of class. Arriving at school later than other students, I was concerned about my ability to make friends. However, I became acquainted with many other students in the same department, and have definitely enjoyed my student life to date. Taking part in club activities, meanwhile, brought me together with students from other departments and campuses. My circle of friends has grown and I am truly happy with my new experiences.
- Residence
Always having lived with my family in Korea, coming to Japan was the first time that I ever lived on my own. At first, I considered going online in Korea to search for a suitable apartment in Japan. However, because I didn’t like to rent a room without actually seeing it, I lived in the university’s ladies dormitory for about six months after the COVID isolation policy here ended. That dormitory was directly managed by a real estate agent contracted by the school. With a supervisor constantly on-site, I lived there in full peace of mind. During those six months I searched online daily for an apartment fitting my needs. Today, I live in a condominium-style residence within walking distance of the campus. Rentals in Japan, meanwhile, differ in many ways from Korea – for example, the system of refundable “security deposits” and nonrefundable “gift money”. When reading materials on available rentals at a real estate agent, therefore, it is important to confirm such details before deciding upon a residence.

Live performance by our university light music club

TAKOYAKI (octopus dumplings) prepared with my university friends

5. Advantages of Using the Pre-arrival Admission System

I used the Pre-arrival Admission application system to take the EJU in my own country, and learned in advance whether I would be accepted to a school. This considerably shortened the period needed to prepare for studying overseas. Getting ready for going abroad naturally includes preparing to take the EJU, while there are numerous documents and other materials that need to be collected and forwarded once you are accepted to a school. For Doshisha University, I was able to complete all of these arrangements through the Pre-arrival Admission system.
If I had waited to prepare to study abroad until after arriving in Japan, it would have been necessary to live alone and study for the exam in a country where I had no acquaintances. This could have proved very stressful both mentally and economically. Taking advantage of the Pre-arrival Admission system eliminated such concerns, enabling me to concentrate on pursuing one of my main dreams in life to date – attending college in Japan.
The Pre-arrival Admission system is one of the reasons that I have succeeded in carrying my studies here in Japan so far. I can only imagine what would have happened if I suddenly moved to Japan and began to study for college admissions exams with no real advance preparations. I would have lacked even the most basic knowledge about life here, most likely failing to attain my current level of proficiency as an international student. Thanks to preparing on the basis of the Pre-arrival Admission system, therefore, I have experienced a far more enjoyable and fulfilling student lifestyle here.

6. Advice for Students Planning to Use Pre-arrival Admission for Study in Japan

What I wish to stress the most is the importance of choosing a university that you wish to attend from among those offering the Pre-arrival Admission system, and then study hard to become accepted. Next, your preparations should not be limited to the EJU. You also need to learn the details of the university in which you are the most interested. What is the nature of that school? What types of classes does it offer? Greater understanding of such facts will raise your enthusiasm about that school and motivate you to study harder.
Furthermore, even at the same university, different academic departments tend to maintain their own score requirements on the EJU, as well as demands to submit materials confirming your English proficiency scores on other exams. Therefore, always confirm the entrance examination guidelines for each school and department in advance
Finally, I have one other message for those of you currently preparing to take entrance examinations to study in Japan. Since you have chosen a different course in life than your friends, you may compare with them and lose your confidence. There was also a time when I fell into such a state of mind, but I managed to overcome those feelings and push on toward my goals. I continued to envision a meaningful student lifestyle in Japan, with my devotion to such studies helping to steadily achieve my goals.
Once you overcome the struggles encountered along the way, happier times lie ahead. Please keep that thought foremost in mind and do your very best to succeed!