Hello! Following PART 1 about the KGU Dorm available, I got some questions about it/the area/dorms in general so I’ve compiled it into a Part 2!
READ MORE: All posts about Studying in Japan
1) Is Takarazuka a city or a neighborhood in Nishinomiya? From what I could understand from your post, KGU is quite far from there. Is it the only international dorm available?
Takarazuka is a city. Nishinomiya is also a city. They are both quite near the school, but Nishinomiya is the city that the school’s Uegahara campus is on (aka the campus foreign exchange students will be going to). KGU is about 40minutes from Takarazuka including walking time. The train ride is only about 20minutes or so. When I left, there were two student dorms in Takarazuka (one was torn down and rebuilt sometime this year though, if I remember correctly), a possible apartment in Niigawa (walking distance to the school, you will be sharing the apartment with other students), a non-school run dorm in Kobe (Hyogo International Students Dorm I think but it is much further from
KGU than the Takarazuka dorms). There are also apartments available for rent from the school (International Residence III) but these are subject to availability.
The possible accommodation options will be sent to you by the school, and you are to choose which one you prefer. The available options differ each year, so what I’ve mentioned above may not be the same things offered to you when you apply. Homestay is also an option, but I suppose if you’re reading this post you are probably not choosing to do homestay.
2) Is it typical in Japan to have dorms with bills excluded from the fee?
Yes in Japan the rent and utilities is usually separated. There might be places that have an all in fee, but so far what I’ve encountered and based on personal + friends experiences, it’s separate.
3) In order to commute from the dorm to the KGU, did you need a JR Pass?
I used the Hankyu Line (Hankyu Takarazuka to Hankyu Niigawa or Kotoen) and used a monthly Commuter Pass that can be bought from the station which makes it very cheap and you can have unlimited entry to any stations between your home station and your destination. Eg you can use it to get off at any stop between Hankyu Takarazuka and Hankyu Niigawa. Note that Hankyu Commuter Pass can only be used on Hankyu lines. Exchange students will be briefed on how to buy the Commuter Pass by the school. Subsequently when I needed to buy a new pass, you can do so by filling in a form and purchasing it from the Train Station. Either from the office or a dedicated Commuter Pass counter (like in Hankyu Nishinomiya-Kitaguchi Station).
JR pass is not needed as the train station nearest to KGU is Hankyu line.
Note: The commuter passes are all company specific – eg JR Pass cannot be used on Hankyu lines and Hankyu Pass cannot be used on JR Lines. HOWEVER, Icoca (or Suica etc)/Passmo cards where you top up money and tap in and out of the station CAN be used ACROSS lines, including on the subway (chikatetsu) as well.
4) Did KGU support you in the accommodation finding process? I’ve read that they helped you in looking for dorms, but did they help you with the application and stuff like that or was it all up to you?
The school basically tells you the accommodation options they can provide (and also dorms/places they work with to house their students in. Or you can choose homestay) and you let them know what you want. If successful, you get your first choice. You can also search for alternative accommodation outside of what the school offers but you are on your own for the most part if you choose to do that.
When I had to move out of the dorm (Residence II has a 1 year maximum stay limit), the school told me I could either go to a real estate agent myself and find my own apartment (and provided a brochure + recommended the one near school, but also said it would be best to bring a friend who was fluent/native in Japanese) or they had another place available which I could move into. I eventually chose to move into their International Residence III since it was hassle free (no key money, deposit etc) and I would just pay the bills to the school directly. I also know students who moved out from Residence II into a different student dorm. I am not sure if the school helped with the application, but if you ask the CIEC staff they can point you in the right direction.
5) I read that the curfew is at 23:00, does this mean I cannot enter after that time?
The curfew is there but if you return home after 23:00, the side gate will still be open. There is a code to enter the dorm door so you can still enter after 23:00 but you just have to make sure you are quiet. I’ve gotten back past the curfew time quite a lot (especially if I’m working a late part time shift) and there haven’t been any issues. Unless for some reason they change things this year, but probably not.
6) How about traveling around? Is it fine to stay away from the dormitory if we visit another city for a weekend or for a few weeks in the holidays?
If you will be traveling/away for a few days from the dorm, you have to fill in a form and submit it to the dorm manager. You can get the form from the dorm manager and if I’m not wrong exchange students will need someone from the school (CIEC) to sign off on it. It’s to make sure they know your whereabouts and I’m not too sure if you need to fill it in during the holidays. It’s also really common for exchange students to travel during the holidays so there shouldn’t be any issues about that at all.
Finally, do join the KGU Ryugakusei (Exchange Students) Facebook Group to chat with previous exchange students, fellow new exchange students and other full time foreign students! There are part-time job postings once in a while and opportunities to attend events all posted there.
I hope these answers help clarify any doubts or worries you may have when coming to Japan and studying in KGU 🙂
Till the next post,