Finding a Balance

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Hangin’ out at Ontakesan  Photo Credit: Carli Gaudet

Knowing that my time here is limited, I have found it somewhat challenging to find a balance between my school life and my social life. It is easy to forget about school altogether and enter into “vacation mode” when you are so far from home. In addition to this, I found it somewhat difficult at first to efficiently budget my expenses, especially on the weekends. Therefore, I came up with a few simple rules to help myself stay on track with my studies and still enjoy my time in an affordable way while in Tokyo.  I hope this may be of some use to prospective study abroad students.

1.)   Try to Finish Most of Your Work Before Returning Home: If you are planning on living in a TUJ Dorm, particularly Ontakesan, you will come to realize very quickly that there are an ample amount of ways to socialize and get to meet people.  Every evening the common lounge/kitchen area is filled with people cooking, studying, talking, playing board games, videogames, or watching television.  Since I cook my own meals on most nights, I can’t help but linger in the lounge after eating meal, and  I always end up staying longer than planned.  So if you feel like you’re one of the social types I’d suggest spending a few extra hours in the library after class so you can spare them later that evening.

2.)   Cook!: Cooking can save you a lot of money while you’re here.  Supermarkets are very much affordable.  American imported products can be very pricey though, but there is almost always a store brand alternative that tastes pretty much same as the branded product.

3.)   Shop Late: In addition to cooking, shopping late can save an almost outrageous amount of money.  Pre-made dinners are marked down significantly later on in the evening.  Also, products that are expiring within 1-2 days are marked down a great deal.  Since products tend to come in small packages, you can use them up before they expire.

4.)   Part Time Work: Part time work is a good way to earn a little cash on the side for your weekend excursions.  I currently work in the Teaching and Learning Center, tutoring English and Math for a couple hours a week on campus.  TUJ jobs do not require students to apply for work permits directly from the government.  Yet if you are planning on staying longer than a semester, getting a work permit  should be a consideration.

5.)   Enjoy the Weekends: Try to get out and visit the city for at least 1-2 days on the weekend.  There is so much here to take in and experience.  I myself find the weekends to be most expensive, but everyone has different interests.  If you are more focused on sightseeing, you’ll find that weekend enjoyment is very cheap.  If you are more interested in trying various types of restaurants and cuisines you may find your weekends to be somewhat expensive.  If you’re a night owl, and tend to be more interested in going to concerts and other types of evening events you may find things to be more expensive.

Well those are my tips for now.  If you have any other questions about life abroad feel free to put them in the comments section, じゃまた

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