Exchange in Kyoto

Field of study in Wageningen: Animal Sciences
Study period exchange: 04/04/2023 – 04/08/2023
Country (exchange): Japan
City (exchange): Kyoto
University (exchange): Kyoto University
Faculty (exchange): Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences

2. Motivation for exchange

Why did you choose to go on study exchange?

Studying abroad gave me the experience to live abroad for a longer period of time (for me almost 6 months) and to experience a different country and culture, while also having a purpose for being there, which is studying.

What is the reason you chose for this country/university?

Japan is a beautiful and interesting country, and in my opinion, such countries are experienced better when you stay there for a longer period of time. Especially because the travel distance and costs are high.

3. Accessibility to reach destination

Do you have any tips to reach your exchange destination?

I travelled with the airline Cathay Pacific Airlines, from Schiphol, to an overlay in Hong Kong International Airport, to Kansai International Airport as the final flying destination, and from there took the (bullet)train to Kyoto.  It is very doable.

4. University and studying

Could you provide some general information about the followed courses?

How is the study formalized

The workload was easy to keep up with and the examination was also doable. In my opinion, the courses that I took at Kyoto University and the examination of them were easier than the courses I took back home at Wageningen University.

What is the culture of the university?

The lecturers are approachable and very polite, so similar to the lecturers at Wageningen University. The engagement with local students is different however, most Japanese students are more reserved and/or shy.

What does the university offer the student additionally?

There are multiple clubs which you can become a member of (sports clubs, music clubs, gardening clubs, dance clubs, chess clubs, etc.), that is nice. There are also some sports facilities, such as a swimming pool which you can use.

5. Housing-travelling-living

What are the possibilities for housing?

I was able to get a room with a shared kitchen and bathroom near campus in Hyakumanben International House from Kyoto University. I paid around ¥36,500 for rent each month, the electricity fee would be added to this amount.

What is the culture of the country like?

The culture in Japan is different than back home. The people in Japan are very polite, respectful, and more reserved. The cuisine is very good, and there are a lot of good restaurants/stores where you can buy good and cheap meals.

Could you give a general price indication of the place of residence compared to living in Wageningen?

Living in Japan was more inexpensive for me than living in Wageningen. This was mostly because the rent rate of my room in Japan was quite low when compared to the rent rate in Wageningen. Furthermore, the costs of food and fun activities is also lower than in the Netherlands.

Could you give some information about public transport infrastructure?

I bought an ICOCA card for public transport, which is like an OV chipkaart, but easier to get. It is very easy to use and you can use it for a lot of public transport services (including ferries). However for bullet trains you cannot use your ICOCA card but need to buy a separate ticker, which once you do it is also very easy. The public transport in Japan is also very organized and well structured, better than in the Netherlands. Because my room was near campus, I walked to school.

6. Free time

What are must-sees in the area? 

My favourite place in the city Kyoto that I visited was the Kyoto Botanical Garden, it is a very beautiful place to walk through and also quite large. They have a big greenhouse as well. The Nishiki Market is also very fun to visit. I also travelled to multiple other cities in Japan, and I really enjoyed the cities Tokyo (very nice nightlife and lots of good food), Hiroshima, and Kobe (Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway is very cool). I also really enjoyed the island Miyajima. My preferred method of travel is the bullet train, although it can be pricy it is very easy to use and the quickest form of transportation.

What does not appear in the travel guide, but is worth a visit?

In Hiroshima I did a hike up to the Hiroshima Peace Pagoda, it gives a beautiful view overlooking Hiroshima and the hike itself is also very nice. It was also quiet and serene on the trail, as I encountered no other people.

Do you have general tips and tricks about leisure time?

I would recommend making friends at your dorm or school with whom you can do activities and explore the city.

7. Challenges & best moment abroad

What was a challenge you have experienced?

I did get homesick, especially near the end of my stay abroad. I missed my family but also missed the Netherlands. Living in Japan was quite different than living in the Netherlands. Nature, the climate, the food, the people, the houses were all different. Kyoto is also a very big city, with almost 1,5 million people. So it can be a little overwhelming sometimes.

What was your best memory abroad?

After my study was over, my sister visited me and we travelled for three weeks throughout Japan together and visited multiple cities by bullet train. I really loved exploring new cities and showing her my favourite destinations and Japanese foods.