Financial Woes

So I originally didn’t want to post again until I got my acceptance email from Kansai, but I felt like updating.

Currently, and I’m sure even after I get accepted, the biggest concern of mine is making sure I have enough money. I don’t just want to take the bare minimum amount of money with me. I want to be able to travel and buy things when I’m there. By no means am I expecting to spend money however I like, but not having to live off a stringent budget is definitely my goal. Since I’m 24, I am considered an independent student. Generally what this means is that I claim my own income on my FAFSA and I receive enough aid to cover almost any expenditure that comes up during a semester. This current semester I received enough in grants and aid that I decided not to work to focus on classes and so I’d have to time to get everything ready for Japan.

After talking to the study abroad coordinator at the financial aid office, he assured me that I more than likely will receive enough to cover all the cost involved in the program plus a good amount of extra money. I still have to wait for them to get my acceptance from Kansai and work my budget out though. So that bit of information could always change. He also advised me to talk to the Student Business office to see if I can get my financial aid refund earlier.

Now I don’t know how most schools handle their financial aid refunds, but at EMU we usually don’t see our refund money until the second or third week of the semester. The money first goes to our student billing account and then refunds directly to us in a separate student banking account. What I find weird is that they don’t change the date for students going overseas. I know we have to pay certain fees during orientation at Kansai, but if we don’t even get our money until a week or two after that, then what do we do? Also, our meal plans aren’t going to kick in until October. So for a month we have to use our own money to buy food. By the time we get our money from EMU in our student accounts, we would have to withdraw it all and get it exchanged and then possibly open a Japanese bank account. Realistically, if I can’t get Student Business to change my refund date I’m really not sure what I am going to do for money.

While it’s still something I don’t have to worry about quite yet, it’s always in the back of my head. Hopefully things will work out.

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APA Orientation

So today was the orientation put on by the academic programs abroad office at my school. There were a ton of people there! Most of the people were either doing summer cultural tours or the korean exchange program. There were only a few of us going to Japan, and even less going to Kansai. There is another orientation over the summer, so I’m assuming most people are going to attend that one instead. There were only five of us going to Kansai. Two of the other people had been in my Japanese classes before, one girl I’d never met, and then Peter and myself. The first hour we talked about general stuff such as don’t go abroad and drink and act like a crazy person. Most of it was common sense, but they have to tell us all of it anyway. The best news was that the university pays for our international health insurance. Our program fees are expensive, and that’s why. But I would rather pay the program fees than have to worry about purchasing international insurance. Also found out that our ISC card covers us if our baggage is lost or stolen. After experiencing the nightmare of having my luggage misplaced before it’s definitely nice to know they will cover us if that happens.

After the first hour they split everyone up into their own programs. At first we weren’t sure if anyone would be coming to talk to us from Kansai. But there was a guy who had been to Kansai for a year, and a girl who is originally from Kansai and doing her last two years here at EMU. We talked to them for a good while, and had some questions answered. Some of it I already had picked up from reading the Kansai Gaidai blogs of other students. But a few things that were mentioned were very helpful.

Its weird but most of the time I think about going to Japan, it just doesn’t seem all that real yet. It feels like it’s way down the road. And it always had been for so long. But it’s getting closer and closer. While listening to them talk to us the first hour about culture shock, it hit me that this was reality. I’m actually doing this. I also had a “What the hell was I thinking?!” moment, but for the most part I was excited. I think I’ll stay excited until I think about the plane ride over there. I wish I could skip that part of the experience.

From this point on, there won’t be anything else happening until I hear from Kansai. Unless they tell me I need to send some other documents, it’s mostly back to the waiting game.

始まる

So as this is my first post, I’ll being with a introduction!

My name is Dana and I’m currently a junior at Eastern Michigan University. I plan on spending the fall 2010 semester at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan. I wanted to create this blog because in preparation for going abroad, I’ve been reading the blogs of other previous Kansai students and found them extremely helpful. Plus I hope that this can be something that my family and friends back home can read while I’m in Japan. And maybe in the future be helpful to someone else.

So obviously I’m still working towards to getting accepted by Kansai Gaidai. So far the entire application and waiting process has been pretty extensive and rather nerve wracking. I started the process so long ago that it still seems like it’s something so far off in my future. I’ve already had to fill out endless paper work for EMU, because they have to nominate you for your program. After nominations, we have to fill out all of Kansai’s applications online and submit it all back to the study abroad office. Once they send it off and Kansai receives it, we have to wait three more weeks to hear a definitive yes or no. That right there is the hardest part. The yes or no. I’m planning a huge event in my life, and I don’t know if I’m doing it in vain or not. Its extremely stressful. Kansai usually only accepts five or six students from EMU, since we are an affiliated school. They recently upped the number to eight or nine. But there are fifteen people who applied for the program. Kansai let EMU nominate us all, which according to them means they will accept all of us. They have in past years. But it doesn’t really stop me or anyone else that applied from worrying.

Today was the day I submitted all of my final paper to be sent off to Kansai. Now it’s back to waiting again. I have finals coming up, and then a quick vacation. So I’m hoping that by the time all of that is over, I’ll hear back from Kansai.

Until then!