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, health and safety, 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.
Local UCEAP Support
Campus EAP Office
The Campus EAP Office coordinates recruitment, student selection, orientations, and academic advising; and serves as your primary contact during the application process.
UCEAP Systemwide Office
The UCEAP Systemwide Office establishes and operates programs and coordinates UCEAP administration for all UC campuses from its headquarters in Goleta, California. You will work closely with the following Systemwide Office staff:
Program Advisors provide academic and operational program information to you and your campus as well as administrative support for all aspects of your participation.
Operations Specialists manage the logistics of the program. They coordinate document requirements, visa application instructions, health and safety precautions, acceptance and placement by host institutions, arrival and onsite orientation, and housing arrangements.
Academic Specialists advise on academic policies, review courses taken abroad for UC credit, and document your registration, grades, petitions and academic records.
Student Finance Accountants assist primarily with UCEAP statements, program fee collection, and financial aid disbursements (in conjunction with your campus Financial Aid Office).
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
Bookmark your Participants
program page. This resource lists requirements and policies you need to know before you go abroad, including your Predeparture Checklist, UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, Program Calendar, UCEAP Student Budgets, and payment instructions.
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
Chia-Ning Chang, UC Visiting Professor
Ms. Yuko Akasaki, 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) is designed for social science students and focuses on global and international studies. The program is offered by 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
- Maximum of 1/3rd (33%) of units on the pass/no pass grading option; typically one or two courses. This is done in MyEAP only.
- 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
Sample MyEAP Study Lists
Sample Course List
If you do not have basic Japanese language skills, you are encouraged to take a Japanese language course.
UC quarter units are calculated by multiplying MGU units by 1.5. (2 MGU units equal 3 UC quarter units). Most courses that meet one time per week are 2 MGU units and most courses that meet two times per week are 4 MGU units. Language courses meet three times per week and are 6 UC quarter units.
The UC unit value of courses offered in Japanese universities varies widely. Many courses carry low units (2 or 3 UC quarter units). In some cases, courses on a similar theme may be combined to fulfill a UC campus or major requirement. Discuss this possibility with your UC campus academic advisor.
Meiji Gakuin University does not enforce a maximum number of courses or units. Past UCEAP participants have successfully completed 27 quarter/18 semester UC units in a semester in this program. Typically UCEAP doesn't recommend more than 27 UC quarter units per semester for our Japan programs.
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 very different at Meiji Gakuin University. You will attend classes for the first week before doing course registration the second week. This gives you the opportunity to sit in on the classes to see what you like first. 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 meest twice per week and is 6 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 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
Language study is recommended for those with little or no Japanese language background. Courses are offered at beginning, intermediate, and advanced (third year) levels. Lecture courses are 6 quarter units and additional tutorial courses are 1.5 to 3 quarter units. The tutorial courses are taken in conjunction with the lecture courses only. Japanese lecture courses meet for four hours per week in the morning. The tutorials are usually just one or two hours per week.
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 and Internships for more elective course opportunities.
You must complete all coursework by the end of the program before you leave Japan.
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.
The host university grade is converted to the UC grade by the UC Visiting Faculty. All requests to be graded on a P/NP basis must be noted on the UCEAP Study List and all changes to your Study List must be petitioned through the Study Center. You will be informed of the deadline to submit academic petitions. You need to be aware of these deadlines as late petitions will not be accepted. No more than one-third of the UC quarter units in any term may be taken Pass/No Pass.
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 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.
Extending UCEAP Participation
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 and Alcohol
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).
Improve your Language Ability
The more Japanese you know before departure, the more rewarding your time abroad will be. Prior to departure, work to improve your written and spoken Japanese.
Following are some good ways to prepare:
· Read aloud (anything in Japanese) for 20 minutes at a time; read progressively faster, maintaining correct pronunciation.
· Try a Japanese language computer or video game.
· Keep up-to-date on Japanese current events by reading articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals.
· Practice Japanese phrases picked up from conversations and reading.
· Listen to Japanese language videos.
· Seek out people fluent in Japanese for conversations and vocabulary practice.
· Keep a journal of Japanese phrases, expressions, whole sentences, and structures to add to your vocabulary.
· Watch Japanese movies. Watch once with the subtitles, then turn the subtitles off and watch again.
· Read Japanese newspapers and magazines, using a dictionary as necessary.
· Read two books in Japanese, one fiction and one non-fiction.
· Read a book in Japanese in your major.
· Practice writing about your major field and other interests in Japanese.
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
You are required to attend all orientation activities, which cover such topics as:
- banking, transportation, health and safety, and housing;
- academic advising including academic requirements, which vary by program; and
- the specifics of your MyEAP course registration, which varies by program. You will register for courses after orientation based on the Study Center instructions.
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, Student Conduct section). When traveling, always carry your passport, visa, ticket, prescription medications, and money. Never put valuables in your checked luggage.
The Official Arrival and 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 University 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 local 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 tickets, which will allow you to make changes to your return flight for a fee. UCEAP discourages purchasing one way tickets, as your Program Budget is based on a changeable round trip student fare, which is generally less expensive. 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.
Most airline tickets are good for one year only. When buying round-trip tickets, purchase tickets that allow changes to the return date. 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.
Financial Aid Students
Your financial aid package is calculated using your specific UCEAP Program Budget. The estimated round-trip airfare amount is based on the cost of a changeable student ticket 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 will 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
Back to Back Participants
If you will attend a summer program followed by a fall/year program, you must leave Japan between the two programs in order to apply for the student visa. You will not be able to obtain a student visa before departure for a summer program. This will affect your ability to obtain a local cell phone and sign up for National Health Insurance.
Japanese Resident Card
A Resident Card will be issued to foreigners who possess a Student Visa at the port of entry. Within two weeks of arrival, you will need to carry out residency registration procedures at the local municipal office where you reside, and most partner universities provide assistance (e.g. volunteer local students escorting international students to the municipal office, and/or arranging a group tour).
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.
Undocumented Students and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Students
Consult with an immigration attorney free of charge on your campus to determine if study abroad is right for you.
If you are currently enrolled as a student at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, or UC Santa Cruz, contact the UC Undocumented Legal Services Center at https://law.ucdavis.edu/uc-undocumented/
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 protection for your property. 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 Travel Insurance policy offers limited personal property coverage. UCEAP strongly recommends that you examine the details of the UCEAP Travel Insurance benefits and purchase additional property insurance coverage, especially to protect high cost items such as laptop computers, Smartphones, tablets, and other valuables. Review the policy carefully before departure and determine if it provides adequate coverage for your possessions before you experience a loss.
If you decide to purchase supplemental personal property coverage, do so before departure and make sure that the coverage extends while traveling 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. Use logical precautions to safeguard valuables from damage or theft by locking your room and securing currency, jewelry, passport, and other possessions. 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.
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). You will carry more cash in Japan than you would in the U.S. Checks are not used, and credit cards are not as frequently accepted as in the U.S.
Refer to the Tokyo Study Center information on Money
Unless you have a Japanese passport, your visa status in Japan will be temporary visitor and you will not be able to open a bank account in Japan. Although an increasing number of shops and restaurants take credit cards, Japan is still a cash-based society. Consider ahead of time how to get cash while you are in Japan. Many students use their US bank ATM card or credit card to withdraw money, and/or bring some money in traveler’s checks and cash them as needed. You should also refer to the estimated personal expense posted in the Participants page, under Money Matters tab.
Depending on your length of stay and funding type, there are several options available. Some of the options are listed below, and we encourage you to contact returnees to find out more about their experiences. Some families opt for the Travelex Money Card
, a type of prepaid currency card.
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 at major banks.
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 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.
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, 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 with ATMs. including currency exchange. Year students with a local scholarship tend to open an account at a post office so that they can pay dorm rent easily.
Transferring Money Overseas
Most Japanese banks and Post Offices do not allow receipt of foreign transfers within the first six months of the account being opened. After this, funds can be cabled from an American bank to your Japanese account in about a week. The basic charge for the procedure is set by the American bank, and 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MISH does not stock and provide any appliances or utensils for cooking, except for a microwave and toaster on the first floor. There are several places to buy household utensils, including 100yen shops near the dorm.
There is also an optional home visit with a Japanese family either overnight or a day visit. You will apply for the home visit in the Pre-Departure Checklist.
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.
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 homestay application with your application for MGU admission. It will be for a day or overnight at no additional cost. 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 “buddy” volunteer to support UCEAP students. UC students greatly appreciate this support and the resulting friendships.
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:
Leaving your host city for more than 24 hours?
You are required to 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 how to reach you so we can help you.
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.
For more information,
Know Before you Go
While abroad you are automatically covered by the UCEAP Travel Insurance Policy
. 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.
The UCEAP travel insurance does not include coverage for preventative care, checkups, and vaccinations.
Read details in Benefits at a Glance
. Familiarize yourself with the coverage, exclusions, and eligibility criteria. Your travel insurance policy number is ADDN 04834823. It is underwritten by Chubb Insurance Company.
There is no deductible or co-insurance but the travel insurance works on a reimbursement basis.
You can submit a claim for a refund consideration of covered expenses. For more information about the medical claim proces
or about non-medical claims
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 your 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.
For more information refer to your Pre-Departure Checklist, Insurance tab, or the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Insurance chapter
For Questions about Coverage, Benefits and Claims Status
ACI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. The National Health Insurance is administered by each local prefecture.
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.
Know Before you Go
Inform yourself before you travel. Just as language and currency vary around the world, so does medical care. Know what to do if you get sick.
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.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler's Health
web page has important information about health risks present in the country where you will be studying.
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.
Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications
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.
- Understand your UCEAP travel insurance terms of coverage.
- If you need a refill while abroad, you must see a local doctor to get a similar prescription. Note: If the visit to the local doctor is considered preventive care, it will not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance. It may be covered if you are insured through your campus health insurance plan. It will be critical to have a letter from a U.S. doctor during this appointment explaining your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic name.
- 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.
- Two classes of medicines – narcotics and psychotropics – are under the control of international law. This covers any medicine that can have an effect on the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the potential to be abused. The narcotic class mostly relates to analgesic opioids and their derivatives (e.g. morphine and codeine) which tend to be highly regulated. Psychotropics are all those medications likely to be used to treat mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and psychotic conditions.
- If you plan to purchase medication using the UCEAP Travel Insurance coverage, you must fill and pay for medication when coverage is effective (14 days before the official start of the program). Do not assume that your local pharmacy knows about the UCEAP travel insurance policy. It is not the same as your campus health insurance coverage. You will need to pay for the medication and submit a claim to the UCEAP insurance.
- Find out whether your medication is legal in your UCEAP country.
- If traveling with a prescription containing controlled substances, review international agreements governing the transportation of medications across borders check the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) website. The INCB is responsible for international drug control. If traveling with controlled substances, you must have a letter from your doctor. Generally, amphetamines (e.g., Adderall, Vyvanse) are illegal in other countries. Talk with your doctor to switch you to another medication.
- 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 depending on time zone changes.
- Get a letter from the prescribing physician on letterhead indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic name as brand names vary considerably around the world.
Traveling with prescription medications
- Keep the medication in its original packaging. Ensure that it is clearly labelled with your full passport name, doctor’s name, generic and brand name, and exact dosage. Carry it in your carry-on luggage, provided it is in pill or solid form. For more information, particularly if your medication is in liquid form, consult the US Transportation Security Administration., Traveling with Medications.
- Carry copies of all original prescriptions.
- Carry the letter on letterhead from the prescribing physician for all prescribed medications, indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic names. This is extremely important in case you need treatment or a medication refill abroad.
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 to monitor side effects. 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.
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, your time 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
. For information about the claims process, read the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, Insurance chapter
If you are currently in treatment in the U.S., discuss your UCEAP program details with your doctor so you can work on a plan in case you need to reach out for care. If you are taking a prescription medication, talk with your prescribing physician before departure about getting the supply you need for going abroad. For information about traveling with medications, refer to the Prescription Medications section in this guide.
Your mental health is important to us all. Create a plan with your treating doctor. Managing your mental health while studying abroad – whether or not you have a pre-existing condition – 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.
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.
You may feel homesick or sad. Feeling down, anxious, homesick, depressed or stressed might be your body’s reaction to the new environment and different life away from your usual support network. Don't cope alone. Reach out for help to the local UCEAP program staff and your friends. If you have been feeling unhappy for longer than a few days, or it is staring to affect your enjoyment of
life and/or your studies, then you should see a doctor immediately.
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. Budget for this expense as you must pay up front and submit a claim to the insurance company for a refund consideration. Doctors, hospitals, and clinics will require you to pay bills at the time of treatment. You must then submit a completed claim form and paid receipts to the UCEAP insurance company. For information about the claims process, access Insurance Claims Process
. If you have questions about your UCEAP travel insurance benefits contact ACI at email@example.com.
Meiji Gakuin Student Counseling Center
Yokohama campus: +81-45-863-2061
At this center, students can consult with clinical psychologists about anything that is worrying them, including their relationships, personality, studies, academic direction, and psychological health. There is an English-speaking counselor on campus on Mondays and Thursdays.
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. Consider an action plan.
With the right information - and by thinking ahead - everyone can play a part in minimizing or preventing personal risks. Take time to assess the risks, plan ahead to reduce them, and think how you would lessen the consequences if things go wrong. Start by outlining activities you plan to engage in through your program and/or during independent travel; label the risk and rate it based on the likelihood of harm and the severity of consequences. Consider measures you can take to reduce the severity and chance. Plan your itinerary carefully, let your friends and relatives know where you will be, and research the safest way to travel.
The University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) has established policies and procedures and has contracted with emergency assistance and security providers, to help you minimize your risk exposure and enhance your safety.
Be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate and unpredictable terrorist attacks, which make it impossible to protect yourself from. Remain vigilant in all public areas in your UCEAP city and country and wherever you travel. Many terrorist groups, seeking publicity for political causes within their own country or region, are not looking for student or higher education targets.
Terrorist attacks using vehicles are very hard to prevent and appear to be on the rise. If you are in a crowded public place, know how you can exit quickly, identify barriers or safe places where you can shelter-in-place, and watch out for any vehicles that appear to be going at very high speed.
Report anything suspicious to local authorities. Read all security-related correspondence and advice from local staff. Schedule direct flights, if possible. Avoid stops in high-risk airports or areas. Minimize time spent in the public area of an airport, which is a less protected area. Keep a mental note of safe havens, such as police stations, hotels, and hospitals. Have a plan for what you will do in the case of an emergency. If you are ever caught in a situation where somebody starts shooting, follow the active shooter guidelines: drop to the floor, get down as low as possible, and hide if possible. Cover yourself behind a solid object. Silence your phone. Do not move until the danger has passed.
Steps to manage or minimize risk and enhance your personal safety
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.
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.
Sexual Violence & Sexual Harassment
Sexual assaults are not frequent but do occur, and females may be randomly targeted. Some US 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, 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.
Sexual Assault Resources at Meiji Gakuin University
Harassment Counseling and Support Center at Meiji Gakuin University
(Building 1, 1F)
Email address for making consultation appointments: firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening days: Monday,Tuesday and Friday Opening hours: 10:00 to 17:00
Students can also call the following number and will be provided support from the Policy Bureau of Yokohama City.
English TEL: 050-1501-2803
Monday‐Saturday 10:00 to 17:00
Every member of the UCEAP community should be aware that the University prohibits sexual violence and sexual harassment, retaliation, and other prohibited behavior (“Prohibited Conduct”) that violates law and/or University policy. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of Prohibited Conduct and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and when necessary, to discipline behavior that violates this Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. Report to the local
UCEAP staff and/or partners if you suspect one of these behaviors has occurred.
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 Advisory 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, UC security provider, 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 evacuation 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 and its security providers, is covered by UCEAP itravel nsurance. 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.
UCEAP Contingency Planning
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
The University of California, in accordance with applicable
Federal and State law and University policy, does not
discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion,
sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical
condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status,
citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era
veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also
prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy
covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs
and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s
student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to
the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action
* Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical
conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.