Approx. Time Difference
Mar – Oct: + 16 hrs
Nov – Feb: + 17 hrs
This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants
section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
“Japan has genuinely enlightened my understanding of the importance of striving to be a ‘global citizen.’ The learning, experiencing, enjoying, and above all, surprises, will undoubtedly play an important role in my life as an individual as well as in my professional career. The final lesson: learning never ceases…aim higher.”
~ UC Irvine Participant
Click a heading below to see section content.
UCEAP Contact Information
Student Finance Accountant
UCEAP Systemwide Office
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200
Goleta, CA 93117-5823
Phone: (805) 893-4762
Fax: (805) 893-2583
Study Center Abroad
Do not contact the International Studies Office before departure.
Once you are abroad, the on-site UC Visiting Professor and the International Center (IC) will be your contacts for all matters. Among other things, the UC Visiting Professor provides support with academic matters, program logistics, and personal issues. The Study Center is located in the Faculty of International Studies Office.
Office of the Faculty of International Studies
The Office of the Faculty of International Studies (OFIS) is the main office for UC students. OFIS is responsible for curricular and related academic matters. Notices and messages from professors are posted on the bulletin board in this office. You can borrow textbooks and travel literature.
Location: Building 8 (Hachi-go-kan), second floor (Yokohama campus)
Office hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m.–noon
John Kim, UC Visiting Professor
Ms. Naomi TOMIZUKA, UC Program Officer
Office of the Faculty of International Studies
Meiji Gakuin University
1518 Kamikurata-cho, Totsuka-ku
Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken 244-8539, Japan
Phone (calling from the U.S.): (011-81-45) 863-2200
Phone (calling from Japan): 045-863-2190/2200
Phone Number Codes
U.S. international code: 011 (dial this to call from the U.S.)
Japan country code: 81
Yokohama city code: 45
Approximate Time Difference
Add 16 hours March–October
Add 17 hours November–February
Prior to departure, direct questions or concerns to your UCEAP advisor on campus or to the Systemwide Office.
During the program, direct questions or concerns to the UC Visiting Professor or to the appropriate Meiji Gakuin University Office listed in this section.
International Center (IC) Office of the Faculty of International Studies
IC assists with non-academic matters related to international students. They work directly with students and act as liaisons with other offices of the university.
Location: Building 1, first floor
Office hours: Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. and Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–noon
Phone (in Japan): 045-863-2190
Academic Affairs Office
You must formally register for classes both with the UC Visiting Professor and at the Academic Affairs Office. OFIS will help with the required forms. Student ID cards are also issued at this office.
Location: Building 1, first floor
Phone (in Japan): 045-863-2026
Student Affairs Office
This office provides advice on student activities, clubs, and how to join them. It has a lost-and-found department. In addition, you can apply for a student discount for train tickets at this office.
Location: Building 1, first floor
Phone (in Japan): 045-863-2029
The program at Meiji Gakuin University (MGU) focuses on Global and International Studies and is offered through the Faculty of International Studies where you will take the majority of your courses.
- 21 UC quarter units minimum and 30 UC quarter unit maximum (14 to 20 semester units); most UCEAP students take 24 to 27 UC quarter units; 4 to 7 courses depending on the units of each course.
- Weekly participation in the Integrative Program Seminar taught by UC Visiting Professor.
- Attendance on study trips
- Regular class attendance is expected and considered in the final grade along with papers, class participation, and exams. Check with each of your professors about specific requirements, paper deadlines, and exam dates.
- MyEAP Study List registration
If you do not have basic Japanese language skills, you are encouraged to take a Japanese language course. Upper-level (third year and higher) Japanese language study is not always available.
UC quarter units are calculated by multiplying MGU units by 1.5. (2.0 MGU units equal 3.0 UC quarter units). Most courses that meet one day per week are 2.0 MGU units and most courses that meet two days per week are 4.0 MGU units. Language courses meet three days per week and are 6.0 UC quarter units.
Japan is a country in which behavioral propriety and formal courtesy are extremely important. Learn about behavior that might be considered offensive, Japanese standards of behavior, and follow the Japanese students’ examples. Japanese people may not correct you for unacceptable behavior, but any actions out of the ordinary will be noticed and could negatively impact UCEAP at Meiji Gakuin.
Japanese students do not eat, drink, chew gum, text, or answer cell phones during class time. Student dress is casual and neat. Faculty are treated with respect at all times. Treat guest speakers and faculty with the dignity and respect appropriate to their position in Japanese society. Your behavior reflects on both UC and the U.S. Make a good impression and continue to make this program possible for future UC students.
Japanese higher education is not designed to be as structured as higher education in the U.S. Japanese university courses do not have the same kind of organization and requirements as courses at UC. You cannot rely solely on your professors and the classroom setting for your educational achievement. For a successful academic experience, be willing to adapt to Japanese educational traditions and methods of communicating with Japanese instructors.
Meiji Gakuin professors expect you to be self-motivated and actively engage in related readings, research projects, and other out-of-class educational endeavors to complement classroom activities. If you rely entirely on the professors’ explicit requirements and the classroom for your intellectual stimulation, you may feel under-challenged and perhaps disappointed. Over the years, UC students have commented that this is a program in which student satisfaction can be very high, but it depends on the effort of each student.
Japanese university instructors do not provide detailed feedback on papers. Final papers and final exams are usually not returned to students. When they are returned, they may not have comments.
Course registration is completed after arrival and instructions will be provided during your on-site orientation.
You will participate in International Studies courses and a required Integrative Program Seminar course led by the UC Visiting Professor. Japanese language study and courses from the Shirokane campus are optional.
The UC Visiting Faculty also teaches a course each semester on his or her area of expertise. This elective course meet twice per week and is 6.0 UC quarter units. Classes typically focus on an area of contemporary Japanese studies.
International Studies Courses
Each semester approximately 12 to 17 courses are offered through the Faculty of International Studies for international students; however, local Meiji Gakuin University students are also invited to participate. These courses are all taught in English. The course list
is updated on the Meiji Gakuin website approximately one month before the semester begins.
Integrative Program Seminar
This required weekly seminar integrates the varied subject matter of the program courses and the topics of the guest lecturers. Each student is required to complete a research project, either individually or within a small group.
The seminar is led by the UC Visiting Professor and is enhanced by guest speakers who address various issues. It is designed for UCEAP students; however, it includes Meiji Gakuin students, faculty, and visitors.
The course is 3.0 UC quarter units and is listed as an upper-division course in MyEAP
under the Asian studies, political science, and international studies subject areas.
Japanese Language Study
You may take one course of Japanese language study in this program for a total of 6.0 UC quarter units. Courses are offered at beginning, intermediate, and advanced (third year) levels. Language study is highly recommended for those with little or no Japanese language background.
Japanese language courses meet for four hours per week in the morning.
Past UCEAP participants highly recommend taking Japanese language in this program. They liked the small class size and how it helped in day-to-day getting around.
Study trips to historic and cultural sites complement classroom instruction and are an integral part of the program. Trips include Hiroshima, which has stood as a reminder to the world of the consequences of failed international relations since August 6, 1945. You have the rare opportunity to explore Hiroshima’s total destruction by a single U.S. nuclear bomb as well as its rebirth as a modern Japanese industrial city.
The academic program may include other required course-related study trips led by individual faculty members. These trips enrich the program’s overall educational experience. Past trips organized outside of normal classroom hours (often on weekends) have included visits to sites of local, national, and international significance.
Courses may be available at Meiji Gakuin’s Shirokane campus in Tokyo. Courses that have not previously been taken by UCEAP students require the permission of the UC Visiting Professor. UCEAP students are limited to a maximum of two courses from the Shirokane campus.
See the section below on Special Study Projects & Internships for more elective course opportunities.
You must complete all coursework by the end of the program before you leave Japan.
Grades are reported by Meiji Gakuin professors to the UC Visiting Professor who assigns the UC grades. You may discuss your progress in a course with the Meiji Gakuin instructor but should not discuss your grades unless invited to do so. Never appear to negotiate for a grade. Questions relating to final grades, program matters, and appropriate plans for handling them should be discussed with the UC Visiting Professor.
Fall grades are usually available late January; spring grades are usually available early to mid-August.
For general information about grades, see the Academic Information
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Special Study Projects & Internships
Special Study Project
It may be possible to do a Special Study Project (independent study project) in an area of special interest. For projects that include fieldwork, you will need Japanese language skills. After arrival in Japan, discuss the project with the UC Visiting Professor, who may approve the project based on the feasibility of the topic and the availability of a Meiji Gakuin faculty member to supervise. Special Study Projects are normally 1 to 4 UC quarter units.
There is no way to increase the units of the 3-unit MGU courses; however, there are two mechanisms to add extra-unit courses to the existing courses. Either option is pursued after you have arrived in Japan, enrolled in the 3-unit course, and discussed the project with the instructor of a given course. The options are as follows:
Meiji Gakuin Independent Study
Meiji Gakuin offers an Independent Study option worth 2 UC quarter units to promote study and research beyond what is offered in the regularly offered coursework. These projects take time to organize.
Procedure: Submit to the Vice Dean of the International Studies Faculty a proposal including the reason for wishing to take independent study units, the proposed supervisor (only regular departmental faculty are eligible to offer MGU’s Independent Study), the research theme, the research methods, and overall plan; and written agreement from the proposed supervisor.
Evaluation: Student submits a 6- to 10-page report to the supervisor; supervisor reviews and comments; report and comments are reviewed by the Vice-Dean (or gakka shunin), and a grade is assigned.
UCEAP Special Study
This is a UC-only option, thus, a matter between individual instructors and UC Visiting Professor, as the UC representative at Meiji Gakuin University. Forms are available from the Visiting Professor on site.
Meiji Gakuin University offers teaching internships for academic credit. The internship can be taken as one of your elective courses. The course is listed in the MyEAP Course Catalog as Education 187 A
. Additional information will be provided after arrival.
Meiji Gakuin is currently researching other areas for internships.
Extending UCEAP Participation
Get acquainted with your new host city, country, and culture before you leave the U.S. Travel guides and travel-related websites, such as Lonely Planet, are excellent resources. Take a preparatory course in Japanese history, Asian history, or political science.
The bookstore Kinokuniya
is a good source of Japanese literature; it has branches in San Francisco, San Jose, Costa Mesa, and Los Angeles.
Some programs in Japan do not require previous Japanese language study; expose yourself to learning the language now so that you have an idea of what learning Japanese is like. Students with learning disabilities may find learning another language challenging. If this is the case, provide a letter from your campus Disabled Students Office to document your learning disability.
Recommended Newspapers and Magazines
Keep up with current events by reading articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals:
"Don't feel that you have to be different because you're a foreigner. Try your best to blend in, learn customs and appropriate behavior, and you will learn much more about life in Japan." -UCEAP Student
Japanese culture is undergoing rapid change that can be seen in the younger generation. However, the more durable traditions include veneration of the elderly, subservience of women, and propriety. You may experience behaviors that would be considered discriminatory in the U.S. but are considered acceptable in Japanese society. Try to observe such behaviors impartially to avoid applying American standards and expectations to the Japanese in their culture.
"Watch the oldest Japanese people in the room; see how they behave and follow their lead." -UCEAP Student
Social conduct in Japan is regulated more by custom than by written law. For example, the Japanese have a distinct sense of what is proper to discuss. The Japanese will also ask many personal questions, merely out of curiosity. Do not take it as an insult. If you do not feel comfortable answering questions, politely sidestep them.
In Japan, American frankness can be interpreted as rude. Be conscious of this and respect Japanese social expectations.
The Japanese are a group-oriented society. Whereas the West emphasizes individualism, Japanese activities are often outgrowths of some group, family, profession, school, or community.
"Be conscious of your surroundings so that you can blend into the Japanese culture." -UCEAP Student
Japan is a country with a high population density. To function well in this society, Japanese people show great respect for the personal space of others. Shouting or speaking loudly is considered rude; communicate subtly. If noise can be heard outside of the walls of your room, it is too loud. Japanese culture uses many gestures to communicate, many of which differ in meaning from those used in California. Public displays of affection are an affront to many Japanese.
Punctuality is essential in Japan; it is rude to be late.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking
Drug use in Japan is serious and laws are stricter than in the US. Drugs like marijuana are not tolerated in Japan and you can be jailed.
Japanese authorities aggressively pursue drug smugglers with sophisticated detection equipment, "sniffing" dogs, and other methods. When entering Japan, you and your luggage will be screened at ports of entry. Incoming and outgoing mail, as well as international packages sent via DHL or FedEx, are also checked carefully. The Japanese police make arrests for even the smallest amounts of illegal drugs. Several U.S. citizens have been arrested, tried, and convicted after having mailed illegal drugs to themselves from other countries.
Alcohol use is common in Japan. You will see intoxicated people in late-night trains and at stations. Vending machines sell beer and sake.
Never feel pressured to drink. The Study Center can help you to devise polite and friendly ways to avoid drinking without avoiding the camaraderie associated with it.
Japanese law prohibits minors (under 20 years of age) from drinking alcohol. If you are of legal age, use your own judgment and do not display any intoxicated behavior in public places. Practice low-risk drinking, don’t leave your drink unattended, and use the buddy system to watch out for one another. Many students' risky behaviors are related to drunkenness and an associated lapse in judgment.
Students who abuse/misuse alcohol, behave in a disorderly manner, or cause problems for their housing or host university will face disciplinary action by UCEAP, which can include dismissal.
Anti-smoking campaigns are slowly spreading but smoking in Japan is common. Recently, some areas in central Tokyo have passed regulation that bans smoking in public places such as roads and parks. You will see many smokers inside and outside buildings, although many restaurants have nonsmoking sections.
The law prohibits purchase and smoking of cigarettes to minors (under 20 years of age).
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
Official UCEAP Start Date
You are responsible for making your own transportation arrangements to and from Japan (even if you will be receiving financial aid) and for arriving on the Official UCEAP Start Date. This includes reserving and purchasing airline tickets (purchase a changeable ticket). Standby tickets are not acceptable.
Program dates and arrival information are posted on the UCEAP website. Failure to appear on the Official Start Date is cause for dismissal from the program (Student Agreement, Section 10). When traveling, always carry your passport, visa, ticket, prescription medications, and money. Never put valuables in your checked luggage.
The program start date can change due to unforeseen circumstances. You are responsible for making modifications to your travel itinerary to accommodate such changes. UCEAP is not responsible for unrecoverable transportation charges you may incur for travel arrangements. To stay informed of program changes, update MyEAP with any changes to your contact information (mailing address, e-mail, and phone number).
The fall program begins with two weeks of introductory instruction and a field study trip, directed by the UC Visiting Professor, which serve as an introduction to the program courses. Thereafter, regular Meiji Gakuin classes begin. The spring program does not include the two weeks of introductory instruction; however, it does include the field study trip.
The Study Center orientation introduces you to Meiji Gakuin and covers such topics as:
- Contact and safety information
- Course information and registration procedures, including MyEAP Study List registration
- Cultural do’s and don’ts for a better experience in Japan
The orientation by MGU IC includes:
- Assistance with alien registration
- Establishing bank accounts
- Tours of the campus and library
- Overview of cultural activities
Your attendance at all orientation sessions is mandatory (UCEAP Student Agreement). If you miss the on-site orientation, you may be dismissed from the program.
Travel to Your Host Country
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
UCEAP strongly recommends purchasing changeable round trip fares, which will allow you to make changes to your return flight for a fee. Carefully research airfare rules prior to purchasing a flight. Standby and courier fares are not appropriate. Plan for this expense. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid office will reserve or pay for your ticket. If you are on financial aid, you will need to purchase a plane ticket before you receive a financial aid disbursement.
Financial Aid Students
Your financial aid package is based partly on the UCEAP Program Budget for the program. The estimated round-trip airfare amount is based on the cost of a changeable student fare to your host country. If your independent travel costs are greater than the airfare estimate in the UCEAP Program Budget, notify your financial aid counselors. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid Office can guarantee that the additional cost will be funded by financial aid.
If you have Japanese citizenship you must enter Japan as a Japanese citizen, even if you have dual nationality with another country. You will be asked to provide the UCEAP Systemwide Office with a copy of your current Japanese passport.
Students with Japanese citizenship do not need a visa to enter Japan.
Summer-only program participants: U.S. citizens in possession of a valid U.S. passport can visit Japan without a visa for a duration of up to 90 days or less for study.
For the fall, year, and spring programs, you must obtain a Student Visa prior to entering Japan. A student visa is an endorsement placed in your passport by the Consulate General of Japan. The visa grants you permission to enter and reside in Japan for the purpose of study. In order to obtain the visa, you will first apply through your host university for a Certificate of Eligibility.
About two to four weeks prior to departure, you will receive the Certificate of Eligibility from the UCEAP Systemwide Office. With this document, apply for a student visa at the Japan consulate as directed in the online UCEAP Predeparture Checklist
Japanese Resident Card
A Resident Card will be issued to foreigners who possess a Student Visa at the port of entry. The Tokyo Study Center will assist you with this process. Carry your Resident Card (Zairyu Kado) with you at all times so that if questioned by local officials, you can prove your identity, citizenship, and immigration status. Under Japanese law, the police may stop any person on the street at any time and demand to see identification.
It is easier to replace lost or stolen documents if you have photocopies. Make photocopies of all important documents, including passport photo pages, vaccination certificates, travelers check receipts, airline tickets, student ID, birth certificate, credit cards (front and back), etc., then leave a set of copies at home with a parent or guardian and pack a set in various pieces of luggage. Spending a few moments copying documents now can save time and energy if something is lost or stolen.
AB540 students should consult an immigration attorney to evaluate the risks of potentially being unable to re-enter the United States and any impact that participation in UCEAP might have on any deferred action applications.
The UCEAP Program Budget does not include funds to purchase clothing abroad.
You can find almost everything you need in Japan.
- Dressy outfits (sport coat, tie, dress, etc.) for academic or formal events
- Small, lightweight gifts (see Gifts in this chapter)
- Warm clothing for winter
- Shoes that slip on and off easily
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Prescription medications (see the Health chapter of this guide for information on transporting prescriptions abroad)
- Travel guide with a detailed map of your destination
- Plug adapter (outlets in Japan have 2 prongs, not 3)
- Multivitamins, headache medicine, aspirin, and other analgesics
Climate and Dress
The climate in Japan is hot and humid in the summer and cold in the winter. During the early summer you will experience tsuyu, a rainy season characterized by overcast skies and frequent drizzle. The tsuyu ends in mid-July when the humid summer heat sets in and the number of mosquitoes increase.
Winter temperatures can fall below freezing with the chill factor from strong winter winds making it seem much colder. The best defense is to layer clothes and wear warm underwear, sweaters, scarves, socks, and slippers. If you are going to Sendai, be prepared for snow and cold conditions. Buildings are often cold, with the exception of major department stores or subways, where it is usually a little too warm for comfort.
Japanese people are generally well dressed, and stylish and formal trends are found particularly in downtown university areas. Women wear skirts and dresses more often than at UC. The typical UC wardrobe is fine for everyday wear on the suburban campuses. Clothing in Japan is often expensive and difficult to find in large and tall sizes. Women taller than 5'7" and men taller than 5'10" may have difficulty finding clothing in stores.
Shoes are very important in Japan. Japanese people take off their shoes every time they enter a home; therefore, it is best to have shoes that slip on and off easily. Take clean socks without holes.
You may find yourself walking a great deal more than you do at home. Take sturdy shoes that will last for your time abroad. Normally, Japanese shoes go up to size 7½ for women and 8½ for men. It is difficult, and often more costly, to find larger sizes.
It is customary to take small gifts when visiting people in Japan. In Japanese culture, the quality of a gift’s wrapping is as important as the gift itself. Inexpensive gifts may be balanced out by the special care you take with wrapping and presentation with nice paper, bows, special boxes, or gift bags.
- U.S. and hometown items (state, campus, team/sports)
- Pictures of UC or your hometown
- T-shirts with city, state, campus, or team logos
- Baseball caps with sports logos
- Something edible from California like See’s Candies, almonds, pistachios or dried fruits
- Postcards of California
Voltage in Japan is 100 volts, 50 cycles AC in the Kanto area and 60 cycles AC in the Kansai area. The voltage is slightly lower so electric motors (such as hair dryers) run a little slower than in California.
Three-pin plugs are not used in Japan; two flat-pin plugs are used instead. Purchase a plug adaptor beforehand (if needed).
Various brands of saline solution, daily cleaners, enzyme removers, and solutions for the heat method of disinfecting lenses are available in Japan. Take an extra pair of contacts or glasses and the prescription in case either is needed while abroad.
Insurance for Personal Possessions
Consider having additional protections for your property, as in spite of your best efforts, it is still possible to experience loss, theft, or accidents that will damage your belongings while traveling. Talk to your parents and analyze their family homeowners’ insurance to determine whether the items brought or bought while abroad are covered by their policy.
UCEAP's travel insurance policy offers limited personal property coverage. UCEAP strongly recommends you to examine the details of the UCEAP travel insurance benefits and to purchase additional property insurance coverage, especially to protect high cost items such as laptop computers, MP3 players, and other valuables. Review the policy carefully before departure and determine if it provides adequate coverage for your possessions before you experience a loss.
You may decide to purchase additional coverage, especially for high-value electronics (e.g., computer, tablets, camera, etc.). If you decide to do so, purchase supplemental coverage before departure because most theft occurs in the airport or while moving into housing. The host university does not protect student belongings—even in university accommodations.
You are responsible for your own personal property. You can safeguard your belongings from damage or theft by locking your room and securing money, travelers checks, jewelry, passport, and other possessions. Use logical precautions to safeguard valuables. Avoid wearing expensive clothing or jewelry and going to questionable parts of the city, especially at night or when alone. Minimize your vulnerability by staying in control of your drinking and your behavior. Do not invite casual acquaintances or strangers home.
UCEAP strongly recommends purchasing changeable round trip fares, which will allow you to make changes to your return flight for a fee. Carefully research airfare rules prior to purchasing a flight. Standby and courier fares are not appropriate. Plan for this expense. If you do not make round-trip arrangements, be sure to book a return flight with plenty of lead time once abroad. Flights to the U.S. fill up fast and economy-fare seats are booked early.
Most airline tickets are good for one year only. When buying round-trip tickets, purchase a ticket that allows changes to the return date.
The estimated airfare amount in the UCEAP Program Budget is based on the cost of a changeable round-trip student ticket.
Understanding Your Finances
It is important that you carefully read all of the information available in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and discuss it with the person who will assist you with your finances while you are abroad.
Understanding your finances before, during, and after your program is crucial to having a successful time abroad. The following list outlines just a few of the many things you will need to know before departure.
Detailed information on the following topics can be found in the Money Matters
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
- Contact information for finance questions
- How to estimate the cost of your program
- Budget instructions and information
- Who Can and How to make payments to UCEAP
- UCEAP student account information(what fees do I pay to UCEAP and what fees do I pay out of pocket?)
- Banking before and after arrival
- Fees and penalties
- Loan information
- How financial aid works while abroad (how do I get my financial aid from my home campus and how are my fees paid?)
- Various forms (e.g., direct deposit, etc.)
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Your MyEAP Student Account is similar to your UC campus financial account. It will be available as soon as you are selected for your program in MyEAP. You can make payments through this account using e-checks or credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover). The fees that you owe UCEAP will be applied to your account after your program pre-departure withdrawal date, which is listed in MyEAP. For the amount due to UCEAP prior to fees being posted on your account, refer to the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule located on the second page of your UCEAP Program Budget
. Program fees are subject to change.
Your UCEAP Program Budget lists the fees you will pay to UCEAP and an estimate of the personal expenses you will need to plan for. It does not include the cost of recreational travel or personal entertainment. Review your UCEAP Program Budget frequently. The Payment Schedule is on the second page of the UCEAP Program Budget.
- Download and print your UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule.
- Note the deadlines on the Payment Schedule.
- Give the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule to the person responsible for paying your UCEAP bills. Sign this person up for Third Party Authorization on MyEAP so they can make payments online.
Refund of Credit balances and Financial Aid Disbursements:
If you are signed up for Direct Deposit on your UC campus, it is not linked to your MyEAP account. You must sign up for eRefund with UCEAP to receive direct deposits from your MyEAP account. For more information, see the UCEAP eRefund Instructions
The official currency unit in Japan is the yen (abbreviated ¥ or JPY). Get used to carrying more cash in Japan than you would in the U.S. Checks are not widely used, and credit cards are not as frequently accepted as in the U.S.
"The price of food and everything else in Japan is very high!" -UCEAP Student
Since Citibank has offices in the U.S. and Japan, you can access your account in both countries.
Banking and financial customs in Japan are different from those in the U.S. Almost all purchases are made in cash, although credit cards like Visa and MasterCard are accepted at hotels and some restaurants. You can purchase yen at the airport (either in the U.S. or Japan). U.S. dollar-denominated and yen-denominated travelers checks are accepted in Japan.
Japanese Bank Account
One way to handle finances is to open an account at a Japanese bank, which is free of charge. Most banks have branches throughout the country and issue account holders an ATM card for use at the branches. In addition, you can use another bank’s ATM for a fee.
Most banks are open weekdays (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and closed on weekends and national holidays. ATM hours vary from bank to bank and branch to branch, but usually from 8:45 a.m. to 6 pm on weekdays, and there is an extra fee outside of those hours and on weekends. Convenience stores have ATMs connected to major banks. Verify this information with your bank when you open an account.
ATM Cards from the U.S.
"If you'd like to use an ATM card from a bank at home, there are Citibanks all around Tokyo that accept those cards. The post office usually has an international ATM that you can use." -UCEAP Student
Prior to departure, ask your bank or card company if you can access funds in your U.S. account in Japan using your ATM card and personal identification number (PIN). In addition, find out if ATMs are accessible in the area where you will reside in Japan. The cash amount you will be able to withdraw from an ATM in Japan is limited to the amount you can withdraw in America rounded down to the closest ¥10,000.
ATMs at 7-Eleven convenience stores across Japan accept many international debit or credit cards. According to 7-Eleven, most Plus and Cirrus cards should work, including Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, American Express, JCB, and UnionPay cards. The service charge differs depending on the card.
Another option would be a Charles Schwab account because they will reimburse you for any ATM fees incurred.
Post Office Accounts
Most campuses have a post office that also serve as a bank. Year students tend to open an account at a post office so that they can pay dorm rent easily. With this type of account, you can also withdraw money at post offices throughout Japan for free. Major post offices have facilities for exchanging cash and travelers checks. In addition, many post offices have ATMs. These ATMs are usually open longer hours than the bank, and you can withdraw money from these ATMs on the weekends for free. However, if the account holder is a foreign national with a student visa, a Japanese postal bank account does not allow receipt of international wire transfers for 6 months. But there are other banks which do not have such restrictions and their ATMs are also on campuses.
Transferring Money Overseas
Money can be cabled from an American bank to your Japanese account in about a week. Money is first cabled from the American bank to the central office of the Japanese bank; the funds are then transferred by mail to the local branch, where they are made available. The process can be expedited by two or three days for an extra fee by having the money cabled directly to the branch office.
The basic charge for the procedure is set by the American bank, but an additional handling fee will be charged by the Japanese bank as well. Determine the charges before departure and verify that your American bank can transfer funds in this manner.
"Japan is pretty expensive, so bring more money than you think you will need. It is better to overestimate than underestimate." -UCEAP Student
Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in Japan at larger stores. The American Express card is seldom accepted by merchants.
Meiji Gakuin University recommends you bring at least ¥20,000 and $500 to get through the first few weeks. It is best to purchase yen at the airport because you will not have time to go to a bank in Japan to exchange money during the orientation period.
The Japanese government and Japanese private foundations offer scholarship support to North American students studying in Japan. Special scholarships and fellowships are available to students nominated by their host university and approved by the Japanese Ministry of Education (Monbukagakusho) and the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO). These awards typically consist of a generous monthly stipend in yen. UCEAP recommends you apply for a scholarship where applicable. These scholarships are not available to students who hold Japanese passports. Recipients of other Japanese scholarships are not eligible to receive UCEAP scholarships for Japan.
JASSO scholarships replace, not supplement, financial aid funding. If you are a financial aid recipient, you must report all outside agency awards to your UC Financial Aid Office. The UC Financial Aid Office will include the outside agency award in your financial aid package and will adjust the original aid accordingly. It is important to understand that aid eligibility does not change, only the source of your aid. For further explanation of your financial aid packaging, contact your UC Financial Aid Office.
Computer Access and Use
Individual e-mail accounts are available through the IC Office.
If you take a laptop, you will be able to access the Internet from your dorm room Using a LAN line. In the dining hall, there are two computers with free Internet service, four connectors for free Internet service from your laptop, and one printer. You cannot install any software or save any personal documents on the two computers in the dining hall. You cannot print from your laptop in the dorm room; however, you can print from your laptop in the dining hall.
Computers on Campus
You can use the computers and Internet for free in the PC rooms in Building 4 on campus from 9:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every weekday, and from 9:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The PC rooms are closed on Sunday and national holidays. With your own laptop, you can access free Internet service at some points on campus, and you will need your own cable.
Some U.S. cell phones work in Japan, but at a high cost. Check details with your service provider before departure. A fall 2014 UCEAP student wrote this cell phone information
for use by future students.
If you would like to purchase a cell phone, you are required to show your passport, resident card with the address registered with the local government, and student ID card. You can pay monthly charges with a credit card. In recent years, purchasing a cell phone has been expensive. You can purchase a prepaid phone or get a contract. There will be an explanation about cell phones during the on-site orientation. If you are under 20 years old, you will need a copy of a parent’s or guardian’s identification (a passport or state-issued driver’s license), along with a parental consent form.
If you enter Japan on a tourist visa, you will need to rent a cell phone from the airport until your student visa is processed.
EAP alumni report getting in touch with friends and family in the US using a variety of resources:
- International calling cards
- MSN or online messenger
International Phone Calls
Vending machines next to phone booths and convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Lawson sell prepaid international calling cards.
You can make international calls from green or gray public telephones that are covered with a gold-colored plate. Gray phones are located in Hachi-go-kan (Building 8) on the first floor and at the telephone booth near the bridge on the Yokohama campus. Dial 0051 to contact an international operator.
EMS (Express Mail Service) is a common international mail service offered by the Japanese post office. You can also find international delivery companies such as FedEx and DHL in major cities throughout Japan. A letter to the U.S. can be delivered in about five days. Packages and parcels can be shipped to the U.S. using air mail in about a week.
All UC students are housed in the MISH dormitory in downtown Totsuka. It is a 25- to 30-minute walk to campus (or a ten-minute walk plus a ten-minute bus or taxi ride). Since the dorm is downhill from the campus, a walk home may be preferable.
The dorm has 150 rooms and is located near JR Totsuka train station. Workers, Japanese students, and UC students live at the dorm.
Rooms are furnished, air-conditioned, and single-occupancy. Shower, toilet, and small kitchen with electric heater are available in your room. Each room has a bed, desk, desk light, chair, LAN access port, pillow, sheets, blanket, futon, and futon cover. Gas, electricity, water, internet and linen are included.
There is a large shared dining hall on the first floor; breakfast and dinner are included during the weekdays, except Sunday and holidays.
You are expected to treat all residents at the dorm with courtesy and respect, living in harmony with one another. You are responsible for the care, cleaning, and upkeep of your room and the shared space.
Full rent and the deposit fee are due in August for fall and in March for spring. You must make your own housing payment by wire transfer before the program begins, even if you are on financial aid.
The deposit fee will be returned if student’s room and the shared space are left clean.
There is also an optional home-stay with a Japanese family for 2 months. Finding a host family for the 2-month home stay takes time and is not guaranteed. See the section on "Homestay Option" for more information.
Meiji Gakuin University may offer a few family homestays to students who have completed one year of university-level Japanese and who have Japanese language skills. You must be willing to live according to Japanese norms, which may be more restrictive than those in the U.S. Eligible students are encouraged to apply but are not guaranteed the homestay option.
Homestays are generally two months in length. The remaining time you are housed in a single-occupancy dormitory room. Sometimes homestays can be extended to four months, provided there is agreement between the host family and student.
The homestay cost is approximately ¥50,000 per month plus a ¥25,000 deposit. In addition, commuting will cost approximately ¥10,000 per month.
There is probably no better way to become immersed in the host culture than to share everyday life with a family. The downside of this is that you probably have not lived with your own family in a few years. Conforming to someone else’s rules, especially if they appear strict, may be a strain. Homestay families may require that you be home by a certain hour each night, restrict your guests to the house, or have different rules governing use of the phone, food, and utilities.
During a homestay, you will have a room in a family’s house and eat breakfast and dinner with the family. You are expected to act as a member of the family. Be sure to ask your host parents how they prefer to be addressed (i.e., mother, father, other). You must abide by family rules, such as curfew, overnight guests, etc.
If you participate in a homestay, you need to be flexible. The burden of adapting is on you, not on the host family. The homestay is intended to be a mutually convenient social arrangement and a cultural experience between you and the host family. The matching between family and student is accomplished carefully. While the program has attempted to place one student per household, occasionally a student might be present from another program.
The primary purpose of being with a host family is to interact socially and culturally and to improve Japanese language proficiency. It is expected that everyone, including other guests in the home, will speak Japanese at all times. If a host family requests you to speak English, you may want to work out a reciprocal arrangement to occasionally speak English in order to help them with their language acquisition.
There may be some unspoken conditions and responsibilities to a homestay involving everything from use of the kitchen to possible curfews. To avoid any confusion, communicate with your host family early on about the following:
- Keys: Will keys be issued to the house? Do families expect you to be home at a certain time of night?
- Bathroom privileges: What are your responsibilities concerning the bathroom facilities? If possible, set up a schedule, especially for the morning. There is usually a hierarchical order to using the ofuro (bathtub/shower) at night.
- Meals: Breakfast and dinner are included during the week. On the weekend, lunch is usually included. Since homestay families are volunteers, they serve you homemade dishes not as a burden but as a token of hospitality. Do not expect that every meal will be served at home; sometimes they might ask you to eat out due to special circumstances but they will inform you in advance. If you miss an occasional meal due to special circumstances, be sure to inform the family in advance. What should you do if you miss a meal unintentionally? Discuss the schedule of meals as well as any special dietary needs and meal times with your family. Inquire about access to the kitchen and the household’s food. Vegetarians should be flexible.
- Your room: Who is to clean the room? Make the bed? Change the linens? Assume it will be you.
- Laundry: Who is responsible for doing the laundry and what laundry will be done? Ask your host family how laundry will be done.
- Guests: Are you allowed to have guests, including overnight guests? What about parties and social gatherings in the home?
- Remember: Always inform the host family about any out-of-town trips and times when you may expect to arrive home late, in case of an emergency.
- Payment: Payment of room, breakfast, and dinner is due monthly at the CICE Office at Meiji Gakuin University.
- Telephone: Most students buy cell phones, and this is advised. Telephone charges are expensive, so if you do not purchase a cell phone, ask your host family about the use of their phone, how to reimburse them for phone bills, and then follow the set guidelines.
- Other utilities: Do not leave lights, computers, or other electrical items running when not in use. Check with the host family regarding use of heat, etc.
- Commuting: In addition to room and board, the likelihood of a 60-minute (approximate) commute will cost approximately ¥10,000 per month.
Do not hesitate to report difficulties to the UC Visiting Professor and the IC staff if problems arise with the host family. Concerns should be aired immediately so that small instances will not build up into major problems. Something that is bothersome may be the result of a cultural misunderstanding. UCEAP staff may be able to help explain the misunderstandings and assist in resolving problems.
Japanese universities have cafeteria-style dining halls on campus that are open to all students. Overall, the price of eating out in Japan can be as much as twice the cost of eating out in California. Major cities have numerous restaurants and fast-food establishments, including many American fast-food restaurants. Tipping is not expected.
The price of groceries tends to be high in Japan, especially for imported foods, meats, and fruits.
See the UCEAP Student Budget for estimated costs.
Many restaurants and markets are located near the Totsuka Station (25‑minute walk from campus).
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
All cities in Japan have excellent public transportation and students have no trouble getting around. The Tokyo area may be confusing initially because of its vastness and complexity. As with most major transportation systems, the biggest problems are the crowds and the expense, which can be minimized by avoiding rush-hour travel times and by using subway and private lines.
Most train lines in Japan have bilingual signs. Many of the subway and private railway stations in Tokyo are numbered, so if you don’t speak Japanese but enter a train at station N7 and need to go to N13 you can easily keep track of where you are and where you need to be. The same station will have a different ID from each train line that runs through it.
If you have a long commute, you might find a bike useful for travel between home and the train station. It is your responsibility to learn your rights and obligations as a cyclist abroad.
Operating Motor Vehicles
You are strongly discouraged from driving cars, scooters, or motorcycles due to serious legal and insurance issues. Trains provide exceptional transit in and between most cities. UCEAP assumes no financial or legal aid responsibilities should you be involved in an accident while operating a motor vehicle.
Besides the national holidays, you will have breaks during the year. Travel is an excellent complement to the academic program. Experiencing and hearing regional dialects will enhance your understanding of the Japanese language.
"Traveling is expensive but worthwhile. You can get a student discount, and it's eye-opening to see Japan." -UCEAP Student
You are required to inform Study Center staff about your travel plans, especially if you leave for more than a weekend. An emergency may arise at the Study Center or at home that may make it necessary to reach you promptly. For your convenience, there is a Sign-Out form in MyEAP.
"It's expensive to travel in the country, but I think it's really worth it because there's so much more to Japan than the big cities." -UCEAP Student
Travel within Japan
You are required to inform MGU staff, dormitory personnel, and host families about your general travel plans, especially when leaving for more than a weekend. Use the Travel Sign-out form in MyEAP. An emergency may arise at the Study Center or at home that may make it necessary to reach you promptly. This is also important due to tight immigration control.
The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
You may consider extending your stay in Japan following the program. During August, various peace-related activities take place throughout Japan in memory of the Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) bombings in August 1945.
Participating in extracurricular cultural and social activities while studying abroad is an excellent way to meet people, improve your language skills, and integrate more fully into the community. Join sports, musical, theater, or arts groups; volunteer at local organizations; attend lectures and receptions held in academic and community circles; and get the most out of your time abroad.
It is up to you to get the most from this experience. Extra efforts to socialize will bring satisfying results and will greatly enhance your time in Japan. This is a one-time opportunity, so make the most of it.
You will complete a weekend homestay application with your application for MGU admission. It will be for two nights and three days at no additional cost. All students do this and enjoy it. Do not worry about your Japanese language ability; just be friendly and a good family member. The host family will welcome you as a volunteer. Prepare a gift for your host family—something for the entire family, not for each member (usually food such as fruit or candy). Also, bring some photos to explain your home country, family, or friends.
The International Center at Meigaku
arranges a Meigaku
” volunteer to support UCEAP students. UC students greatly appreciate this support and the resulting friendships.
Working while on the program is not recommended. However, you may work up to 14 hours per week provided you receive the proper employment permits from the Japanese Immigration Office, the host university, and the UC Visiting Professor. It is illegal for foreign students in Japan on a student visa to work without this permit, even tutoring English. It is not permissible to miss a class, field trip, or other academic activity because of a job. Any student who does take a job must inform the employer that there will be times when he or she will miss work due to classes, field trips, etc.
Meiji Gakuin has a chapel open to all students and staff. A 20-minute chapel period is also held on class days at 12:40 p.m.
Campus Club Activities
Clubs offer the best way to meet Japanese students. But join just one club-you'll be judged on how seriously you take the commitment. Sign-ups occur during the first week of the semester." -UCEAP Student
Club activity is an important part of student life in Japan. Club participation is taken seriously and regular attendance is expected of those who join. Each university offers a rich variety of student club activities. UCEAP participants have joined martial arts clubs (karate, judo, aikido, and kendo), sports clubs, sport teams, and clubs for tea ceremony, drama, music, dance, flower arranging, and international relations. While each club varies, most students find clubs to be friendly and feel that membership provides an excellent way to meet Japanese students and practice Japanese.
Whatever club you join, it is imperative that you respect the sempai/kohai relationship. You must accept the role of a kohai. Although you may be tempted to suggest a better way of doing something in a club, this would be a social and cultural blunder; such a suggestion (especially if correct) will embarrass the sempai for being corrected by a kohai. However, once you have established yourself as a team player, diplomatic suggestions and input may be well received.
"I learned a lot of Japanese outside of the classroom through interactions with friends. Definitely do at least one homestay. You will learn a lot about Japanese culture and the families are great!" -UCEAP Student
Students with Disabilities
While in Japan, students with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what they are accustomed to in the United States. Although Japan’s accessibility laws mandate that new construction projects for public use include provisions for persons with disabilities, older buildings are not likely to have been retrofitted for accessibility. At major train stations, airports, and hotels, students with disabilities should encounter few accessibility problems. Accessibility at other public facilities continues to improve through the installation of elevators and wheelchair ramps. Many smaller stations are inaccessible to those who cannot climb stairs.
Accommodations and services cannot be guaranteed and are individualized, based upon the student's documentation provided through the UC campus Disability Services Office (DSO). The letter must be on UC DSO letterhead and issued for the specific term and UCEAP program/country. Accommodations and services can be revisited as needed, but they are not retroactive and cannot be facilitated, if available abroad, if procedures are not followed with reasonable, advanced notice. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that any funding required for special services abroad is arranged in advance.
For more information:
When you leave your host city for more than 24 hours, you must complete the online sign out through your MyEAP account. Click on Travel Signout and complete all required fields. During an emergency (abroad or in the U.S.), it is important for UCEAP officials to know where to reach you promptly.
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Students living and traveling in Japan are highly unlikely to experience safety and security risks due to their sexual orientation. The U.S. Bureau of Democracy’s report mentions a legitimate threat of bullying, but such actions are generally limited to primary school settings. LGBT adults, particularly foreign nationals, are unlikely to be targeted. Violence towards LGBT individuals in Japan is much less likely than in many parts of the United States.
The Bureau of Democracy’s report indicates that LGBT individuals may face social alienation in Japan. Japanese society stigmatizes LGBT persons, often discouraging individuals from openly expressing their identities. Students should use their best judgment in determining whether it is appropriate to disclose their sexuality. In more professional environments, such as offices or laboratories, local counterparts my find open homosexuality discomforting.
Before you travel:
There is no deductible or co-insurance but the travel insurance works on a reimbursement basis. You can submit a claim for a refund of covered expenses to the UCEAP insurance carrier.
Do not assume that if you seek medical care abroad for a covered illness or injury that the local hospital will bill your insurance. Generally, hospitals around the world, including the US, do not bill insurance companies (unless there is a special arrangement with a local hospital in your UCEAP country). It is the patient's responsibility to inquire with the hospital, at the time of service, and make arrangements to pay any outstanding bills. Payment for medical services abroad is ultimately your responsibility.
Coverage begins 14 days before the official start date of your UCEAP program term. Coverage ends 31 days after the official end of the UCEAP program term. Your UCEAP travel insurance does not include coverage for preventative care, checkups, and vaccinations.
For Questions about Coverage, Benefits and Claims
ACI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mandatory Japanese National Health Insurance
Mandatory Japanese National Health Insurance
After arrival in Japan, all students (except summer only program participants) are required to apply for mandatory Japanese national health insurance (Kokumin Kenko Hoken). This insurance will give you access to the best medical treatment available in Japan and cover 70% of your medical costs on site. In addition, your UCEAP insurance will cover the remainder of your medical costs. During orientation, the UCEAP Study Center will provide more information about national health insurance and assist you in this process. The cost of the Japanese national health insurance is included in the “incidentals” line of the UCEAP Student Budget Worksheet. A few weeks after you apply, you will receive a bill in the mail and you will need to pay for this insurance out of pocket in yen. You may pay for this insurance in either a lump sum or monthly payments. If you are an ILP student, it is recommended you make monthly payments rather than a lump sum payment. The national health insurance is administered by each local government. So, upon moving to your host university you will need to reapply for the national health insurance at your new city hall, and reimbursement of previous overpayments may take considerable time.
There is an on-campus clinic at Meiji Gakuin that is equipped to handle minor ailments. For anything serious, however, visit an outside doctor. The Meiji Gakuin clinic can provide a referral to an appropriate specialist. In general, medical practices and facilities in Japan are the same as those in the U.S. and costs are comparable.
During university hours the Meiji Gakuin University Health Clinic Center can be reached at 045-863-2020. In Totsuka, the Yokohama Emergency Medical Care Information Center can provide information about the nearest hospital or clinic depending on the ailment. This contact can be reached 24 hours a day at 045- 201-1199 (limited English). For non-emergency medical problems, the program office has a list of English-speaking doctors in the Yokohama area.
Arriving in a new country is a very busy time and there are a lot of changes to go through. There are differences in food, weather and customs to cope with. In this type of situation, with all its stresses, you may find yourself paying less attention than usual to your health.
Existing health problems can also be made worse by the effects of adjusting to unfamiliar food, a different climate and the emotional strains of being away from home. It can be easy to concentrate on your studies and forget about taking care of yourself.
Inform yourself before you travel. Just as language and currency vary around the world, so does medical care. Read the Health chapter
of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
and your Program Guide for important information to plan for a healthy stay abroad and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler's Health
web page for health risks present in the country where you will be studying. Know what to do if you get sick.
Good basic personal hygiene and hand washing are critical to help prevent the spread of illness and disease. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating.
Stay healthy and avoid lowering your body’s resistance. The change in diet and climate may cause an upset stomach until you adjust to the new environment. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. If you have allergies, sinus illnesses may be worse than in the U.S.
If you feel sick or have a medical emergency, seek medical attention and contact the Study Center immediately. Study Center staff can recommend a clinic to visit, guide you through the UCEAP claims process, and assist if arrangements need to be made with your professors due to extended absence from class.
The Tokyo Study Center recommends the Sanno Hospital
for students in the Tokyo Area. This hospital is located relatively close to the Keio University campus, and professional English interpreters are available at no additional cost.
UCEAP continually reviews information from the CDC
and World Health Organization
, works closely with medical experts on the UC campuses, and monitors local host university and country health resources to provide timely and current information, as needed. In the event of a pandemic, UCEAP’s ability to assist students abroad may be severely limited by restrictions on local and international movement imposed by foreign governments or the United States for public health reasons.
To prevent getting sick:
- Eat only thoroughly cooked foods.
- Avoid poultry farms, contact with animals in live food markets, and any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces or fluids from poultry or other animals.
- Do not touch pigs, birds, or any other animal.
- Wash your hands with soap and water regularly. If soap and water aren’t available, clean your hands with hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid those that appear ill. Wear an FDA-approved respirator mask in crowded places during flu season.
- Stay aware of the situation.
- Drink bottled water.
- Refer to the UCEAP Worldwide Alerts web page for updated information on avian flu.
Refer to the Health
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
Decisions on what medications or medical devices may be imported legally into Japan are made by the Japanese Government. Unfortunately the limited information the U.S. Embassy has available, does not include comprehensive lists of specific medications or ingredients. This information is available only from the Japanese authorities, and subject to change: Importing or Bringing Medication into Japan for Personal Use, U.S. Embassy, Tokyo
U.S. prescriptions are not honored in Japan, so if you need ongoing prescription medicine you should arrive with a sufficient supply for your stay in Japan, if allowed by Japanese law, or enough until you are able to see a local care provider. Japanese physicians can often prescribe similar but not identical substitutes for medicines available in the United States.
Generally, up to one month's supply of allowable prescription medicine can be brought into Japan. You must bring a copy of your doctor's prescription and a letter, on letterhead, stating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regime.
If you must carry more than one month's supply (does not apply to prohibited drugs and controlled drugs), or are carrying syringes (pumps) or a CPAP machine, you are required to obtain a "Yakkan Shoumei", or an import certificate in advance, and show the "Yakkan Shoumei" certificate with your prescription medicines to Customs.
For more information about bringing medicines into Japan and how to obtain a "Yakkan Shoumei" Certificate, visit the Tokyo Study Center website
- Although you should always travel with a copy of your prescription from your U.S. doctor, many pharmacies in other countries will only fill prescriptions written in that country.
- If you need a refill while abroad, you must see a local doctor to get a similar prescription that a local pharmacy will fill. It will be critical to have a letter from a U.S. doctor during this appointment explaining your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen.
- In some cases, the local physician will need to confirm your diagnosis before issuing a prescription. Note that a doctor's visit to get refills may not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance. . If you need to find out if this appointment would be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance, contact ACI at email@example.com. For more information about the UCEAP travel insurance, refer to your UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, or your pre-departure checklist, Insurance tab.
- Most countries will only allow quantities of medication for personal use; only a 30- or 90-day supply.
- Talk to your doctor to see whether he/she can prescribe an adequate supply of your prescription medication to last through the end of the program. Ask your doctor how to adjust your dosage to adjust to time zone changes.
- Always carry medications in their original containers.
- Have a letter from the prescribing physician indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen.
Traveling with prescription medications
- Generally, amphetamines (e.g., Adderall, Vyvanse) are illegal in other countries. Talk to your doctor immediately to switch you to another medication.
- If you are taking psychotropic medications (e.g., Adderall, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Prozac, Vyvanse, etc.), find out whether they are legal in your UCEAP country before your UCEAP program starts.
- Talk to your doctor. If intending to travel with a prescription containing controlled substances, review medication regulations in official government sites. Addresses and excerpted national statutes for most countries can be found at the International Narcotics Control Board. You can also check your UCEAP Program Guide, Prescription Medications section for direct links.
- Pack your prescription medications, in original containers, in your carry-on luggage. Do not pack the medications in your checked luggage.
- Carry copies of all prescriptions, including the generic names for medications.
- Have a letter on letterhead from the prescribing physician for all prescribed medications, indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen. This is extremely important in case you need treatment or a medication refill abroad.
- Leave a copy of the written prescriptions at home with a friend or relative.
If your particular medication cannot be taken into the country in quantities to last through your stay, talk to your doctor. If you need to switch prescriptions, your doctor may need to make changes to your medication at least 3-6 months before departure, so you can have time to consult with your doctor on any resulting complications. The letter from your doctor indicating condition, treatment and medication regimen, can help a local physician to assess you and to consider reissuing your prescription provided it is licensed in your UCEAP country. Note that the local doctor's appointment for medication refill may not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance. Consult with ACI, firstname.lastname@example.org
. Read more in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Health section
Plan for your Well-being
Studying in Japan can be an enriching experience. It can also be physically and mentally challenging one. Mild or pre-existing health conditions can become serious as you transition into an unfamiliar culture and environment. Speak with returnees and gather detailed information before you leave for Japan. U.S.-style and standard psychiatric care can be difficult to locate in major urban centers in Japan and generally is not available outside of Japan's major cities.
Life in Japan is fast-paced with large crowds, noise, and long commuting times. Entertainment costs and prices can be high. For someone on a tight budget and with limited free time, a year in Japan may need an adjusted lifestyle. You may feel unprepared for the impact that this experience can have on your emotional well-being, including mood, stress level, behavior patterns, or identity development. For diversion, students find that regular activities, such as involvement with an interest group like a chorus or hiking club, or study of traditional dance, archery, or calligraphy, offer a break from textbooks and opportunities to practice using Japanese. Ask locals for insight and acknowledge that this as a valuable learning experience.
Culture shock is a normal developmental phase of adjustment to a new cultural environment. It is not a psychological disorder. It is easy to become worn down from physical and mental stress due to the vastly different environment. Culture shock reactions are usually transitory — lasting a couple of weeks — and do not imply mental illness or an inability to cope.
- Eat balanced meals, stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, build strong relationships, share concerns with the Study Center, and be open and accepting of the differences you encounter. It will make your stay more enjoyable as you adapt to the new environment.
The UCEAP travel insurance policy covers outpatient visits as any other illness up to $500,000; there is no co-pay or deductible, and you can make an appointment with any doctor. Doctors, hospitals, and clinics will require you to pay bills at the time of treatment. You must then submit receipts to the UCEAP insurance company for reimbursement. If you have questions about your UCEAP travel insurance benefits contact ACI at email@example.com. For information about the claims process, read the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, Insurance chapter
Your mental health is important to us all. Managing your mental health while studying abroad – whether or not you have a history of anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions – is something every person must think about when going abroad. Being away from usual stress at home can sometimes be a relief when abroad; experiencing new adventures can be a useful distraction. You will also have times when you feel confused, uncomfortable, annoyed, and many of the same emotions that you manage in your daily life at home. Read the Mobility International tips, Ups and Downs of International Travel
Cultural adjustment and homesickness are normal. They are usually transitory—lasting a couple of weeks—and do not imply mental illness or an inability to cope. Most students who experience culture adjustment function reasonably well under the stress and are able to keep up with the responsibilities of school and everyday life.
If you are currently in treatment in the U.S., it is extremely important to discuss your plans to go abroad with your doctor. If you are taking a prescription medication, talk with your prescribing physician well in advance about getting the supply you need for going abroad. For information about traveling with medications, refer to the Prescription Medications section in this guide.
The UCEAP travel insurance policy covers outpatient visits as any other illness up to $500,000; there is no co-pay or deductible, and you can make an appointment with any doctor.
Plan and budget to pay up front. Doctors, hospitals, and clinics will require you to pay bills at the time of treatment. You must then submit receipts to the UCEAP insurance company for reimbursement. If you have questions about your UCEAP travel insurance benefits contact ACI at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about the claims process, access Insurance Claims Process
Risk of travelers’ diarrhea is minimal throughout the country. Community sanitation is generally good, and health concerns related to food and beverages are minimal. Hand, foot, and mouth disease occurs May to December, and peaks between June and August. Frequent hand washing is recommended. Drink only bottled water from a reputable source.
Students with severe food allergies should take precautions, as the cuisine may include ingredients that can cause anaphylaxis in those affected. A language barrier increases the risks associated with severe food allergies.
Precautions to take include:
- Research the local cuisine.
- Learn the words for foods you are allergic to in the local language. Write your allergy on an index card in both English and Japanese; make several copies in case you lose one. Be sure to have a native speaker verify that you have written everything correctly.
- Discuss the risks with your doctor six to eight weeks before departure to discuss your treatment plan while abroad.
- Carry symptom-reducing medications at all times, including epinephrine. Pack it in your carry-on, not your checked luggage. Your medication must be in its original packaging, with your name.
- Have a letter from your physician to present to airport security that states your need to have the epinephrine auto injector with you at all times.
- Wear a medical alert bracelet or tag with instructions for assistance in both English and the local language. Wearing medical identification at all times can help should a life-threatening reaction occur.
- Carry a card written in the local language explaining what foods cause allergies and possible reaction.
You play an active role in protecting your personal health, safety, and well-being.
Staying safe in another country is similar to staying safe in a large U.S. city. Understand the potential threats, know which neighborhoods to avoid, and remain vigilant (pay attention to your surroundings; do not walk around while talking on the phone or while listening to music).
If you will be traveling, think about how you are getting to your destination and/or any travel inside a country. Plan your itinerary carefully, let your friends and relatives know where you will be, and research the safest way to travel. Be proactive about your safety. Be prepared.
The University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) has established policies and procedures and contracted with emergency service and security providers, to help you minimize your risk exposure and enhance your safety.
Steps to manage or minimize risk and avoid being a victim of a crime:
- Assess your surroundings.
- Remain aware at all times. Do not walk around talking on the phone or listening to music on your headphones.
- Be attentive to what is unusual or threatening. Trust your "gut feelings"; if you feel threatened, leave the area immediately and find somewhere more secure.
- Research potential risks you can encounter while traveling.
- Increase your safety and reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime by staying on top of your drinking.
- Practice the buddy system, which promotes safety. This system helps ensure that you, and a partner, will look out for each other. Choose your buddy wisely. The ideal buddy should feel that the buddy system is very important. If you are having a problem, your buddy can help to alert others and get you to safety.
- Have a communication plan. Who will you call on site if you are facing an emergency? Do your friends and relatives know how to reach you when you are traveling?
Putting yourself, fellow students, or the reputation of the program at risk is cause for dismissal from UCEAP.
Register online with the U.S. embassy through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
(STEP), a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.
The crime threat level throughout Japan is low. According to the U.S. embassy low-threat does not mean no-threat. Violent crimes, while rare, do exist.
Staying safe and secure on UCEAP requires you to be responsible for culturally appropriate behavior, exercising sound judgment, and abiding by UCEAP and host university policies and procedures. Understand that you are responsible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for using good judgment to protect your health, safety and well-being. Essential behaviors include being aware of your surroundings, understanding how your conduct and actions may be perceived, and being sensitive to the impact that your behavior could have on your personal safety. Follow precautions against theft, robbery, and assault. Lock your apartment door and windows, and keep valuable items in a bank safe deposit box. Use the buddy system when out late in the evening. The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
also posts updates on safety precautions in Japan.
Possession of a knife with a locking blade, or a folding blade that is longer than 5.5 cm (a little more than two inches), is illegal in Japan. U.S. citizens have been arrested and detained for more than 10 days for carrying pocket knives that are legal in the United States but illegal in Japan.
Watch your Drink
Drink-spiking has routinely led to robbery and has also resulted in physical and sexual assaults. In most drink-spiking reports, the victim unknowingly drinks a beverage that has been mixed with a drug, which renders the victim unconscious or dazed for several hours. During this time the victim’s credit card is used for large purchases or the card is stolen. Some victims regain consciousness in the bar or club; other victims may awaken on the street.
Sexual assaults are not frequent but do occur, and females may be randomly targeted. Some U.S. citizens report that Japanese police procedures appear to be less sensitive and responsive to a survivor's concerns compared to the procedures in the United States, particularly in cases of sexual assault or when both the survivor and the perpetrator are foreigners. Few assistance resources exist in major urban areas, and they are generally unavailable in rural areas. Investigations of sexual assault crimes are often conducted without female police officers present, and police typically ask about the victim’s sexual history and previous relationships. If you are sexually assaulted, first, go to a safe place immediately. This is not the time to be alone. Call the 24/7 UCEAP Study Center staff who will help and support you.
Hate-related violent crimes rarely occur. Some U.S. citizens have reported being the target of comments or actions because of their nationality or their race.
You are subject to Japan’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States. American citizens are not protected by U.S. laws while in Japan. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than those enforced in the U.S. for similar offenses. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect severe jail sentences and fines. If you are charged with such offenses, UCEAP would not be able to intervene on your behalf.
Demonstrations are not common in Japan. Those that occur are generally small, well-organized and non-violent. Even when large protests have occurred, they have been peaceful and orderly. Although protesters typically do not target Westerners or foreign interests, avoid demonstrations as a precaution.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
All roads in Japan are paved and marked. There are many reliable transport options available in Japan. Mass transit is most accessible in urban areas, but rail lines reach many more remote areas of the country and most roads are passable. Transit is generally safe even though the risk of petty theft exists.
Subway networks and privately run commuter trains serve Tokyo and Osaka. Subways, with the rail system, are the most convenient and inexpensive means for traveling throughout Japan. Subways are often very crowded, especially during rush hour, and jostling is considered normal. The Tokyo subway system has color-coded lines clearly marked with signs in English. Exits are numbered and maps are available in each station.
Rail travel in Japan is extremely efficient but it can be very crowded during rush hours on the most popular lines. Numerous regional passenger companies comprise the Japanese National Rail (JR) system. There is adequate police presence at the stations and on the trains to ensure passenger security.
To maximize the number of riders, white-gloved attendants physically push passengers into rail cars. Crowded trains provide opportunities for pickpockets and other thieves. Safeguard valuables and remain aware of your surroundings and personal belongings to avoid becoming a victim of petty crime.
Women may encounter chikans (perverts/molesters), who tend to be most active on public transit during the evening commute. To mitigate the problem, some trains now have female-only cars.
- Cross streets at a corner, using traffic signals where available and crosswalks.
- Stay on the sidewalk wherever there is one.
- Take overhead and underground pedestrian walkways when they are available.
- Stop before you start to cross the street. Look to the left, right, and left again. Cross when it is clear.
- When going out at night, wear brightly colored or reflective clothing.
- Where the view is restricted, stop and confirm whether it is safe to continue.
- Do not cross where there is a “Pedestrian Crossing Forbidden” sign.
Japan is faced with the ever-present danger of deadly earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons. Japan is one of the most seismically active locations in the world; minor tremors are felt regularly throughout the islands. One of the first things you should do upon arriving in Japan is to learn about earthquake and disaster preparedness.
Have a Plan
Japan is located in an active seismic region known as the “Ring of Fire” and often receives minor tremors and earthquakes. Historically, Japan has suffered from large earthquakes in major metropolitan areas. Fortunately, Japan has made great advances with buildings and major roadways being constructed to withstand seismic activity. Along the coastline, coastal cities are susceptible to tsunamis, which stem from earthquake epicenters located in the ocean and can arrive on shore within minutes with no notice. These tidal waves have caused destruction of property and life in varying degrees.
Develop your personal emergency plan. Know the location of evacuation sites.
Telephone services will be severely overloaded and the Japanese Government will restrict phone use to priority users. The Japan Meteorological Agency
(JMA) provides residents in Japan with earthquake early warnings. These are new rapid earthquake alerts to be issued immediately after the occurrence of early tremors, in order to secure time to protect yourself before strong tremors arrive. When accurate, these warnings may just give you a couple of seconds advance notice. Preparation is of critical importance. The JMA provides earthquake early warnings through several means such as TV and radio.
In the event of a major earthquake, the government will issue a declaration of warning (state of emergency). Everyone within range of the warning is advised to refrain from the use of cars and telephones. Emergency actions include:
- Turn off the stove and other heat sources.
- Open doors to ensure an exit; this is particularly important in a multi-level building.
- DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
- Stay indoors during the initial tremor until it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave. Once outside, protect your head.
If trapped under debris:
- Do not light a match.
- Do not move about or kick up dust.
- Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
- Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
UCEAP Contingency Planning
If a local situation requires increased caution or a program suspension and evacuation of participants, UCEAP will activate contingency plans. For security reasons, contingency plans are not public and cannot be shared with anyone except UCEAP officials.
Program Suspension Policy
If the U.S. Department of State or CDC issues a Travel Warning after the start date of the program term, UCEAP may suspend the program. If time and local security conditions permit, UCEAP will consult with the UC Study Center Director, U.S. Embassy, U.S. Department of State regional and security analysts, other organizations that offer programs in the same country, and area experts to determine the appropriate timeframe for suspending the program and/or for the evacuation of the students from the host country.
The UCEAP required security evacuation will override any host institution, or local US Embassy voluntary departure on U.S. government-arranged flights, that require U.S. citizens to sign a promissory note with the government. The safe evacuation of UCEAP students, managed by UCEAP, is covered by UCEAP insurance. UC students are required to follow UC safety directives in the event of an evacuation.
Follow these general fire safety tips. Most college-related fires in the U.S. are due to a general lack of knowledge about fire safety and prevention. Educate yourself about fire safety standards in your UCEAP country. Fire safety standards differ drastically around the world.
- Know where emergency exists are located and check whether exits are passable.
- Know how to call the local fire department.
Do not stay in housing above the sixth floor so you are within range of most fire department rescue ladders.
- Print and take with you the UCEAP brochure, Fire Safety 101 for Students.
- Purchase and use a smoke detector. Before departure contact the Fire Safety Foundation. Choose from a variety of battery-powered smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, including models with sealed, 10-year batteries. Once purchased, the alarms and a multilingual installation manual – written in English and the host country’s native language - will be shipped to the address where you are residing.
- Have an escape plan and practice it.
- Treat every smoke alarm activation as a likely fire and react quickly and safely to the alarm.
- Check for fire hazards. Make sure exit routes are not blocked.
- If you have a disability, alert others of the type of assistance you need to leave the building.
- Refer to the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Fire Safety section for life-saving information.
What Is an Emergency?
An emergency is a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. The following are considered emergencies:
- Any life/death situation
- A traumatic event requiring immediate assistance
- An arrest
- Civil unrest or natural disaster in the host country
In an Emergency
Contact local emergency services first and then contact the following:
If you are in the U.S.
- During office hours (8 a.m.–5 p.m. Pacific Time): Contact your Program Specialist at the UCEAP Systemwide Office at (805) 893-4762.
- After office hours: Call the 24-hour emergency phone numbers at (805) 893-4762 or (805) 882-2086.
If you are abroad
Local Emergency Numbers Police are reliable and widely respected. Police boxes (koban) exist throughout the country at transport hubs and in residential and commercial areas.
The police may be reached by telephone at 110 (hyaku touban).
Emergency medical care, the fire department, the life squad, and ambulance services can be reached by dialing 119.
U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-8420 JAPAN
Phone (general switchboard): (03) 3224-5000
Phone (visa information): (03) 5354-4033
Fax: (03) 3505-1862
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