APU Insider Tips for New Students (Updated for September 2016)
To all incoming students – congratulations on your acceptance to APU! We are eagerly awaiting and getting ready for your arrival. As you are also preparing to start your new life as an APU student, here is a collection of tips and advice gathered from students, alumni, faculty and staff.
Before you leave
- First and foremost: Read the Pre-Arrival Handbook that APU sent you! It talks about money, medicine, getting to APU, and lots of other really important stuff that won’t be covered here. If you haven’t received it yet, it should be arriving to you soon along with your COE (for those of you who need one).
- Don’t pack too much. But do make sure to leave room for something special from home, any toiletries that you can’t live without, and possibly some small souvenirs from home to exchange with your new friends. It is also helpful to bring some non-perishable food/snacks for when you first arrive as well as one or two bath towels because you may arrive late and not be able to go shopping immediately.
- For any electronics you are bringing, make sure to buy an adapter to fit into Japanese outlets. Do your research and be careful of differences in frequency/voltage to your home country.
- Bring something to wear for the entrance ceremony. Some students choose to wear traditional clothes from their region while others wear formal outfits such as a suit or dress.
- Special note to people who live somewhere it doesn’t snow: Bringing a few pieces of winter clothing is fine but wait to buy the bulk of these until you get to Japan. The price will likely be much lower here. Stores such as Uniqlo and H&M are very reasonable and easy to access by bus or train.
- Learn how to cook at least one thing that you really love before departing. Really. Cooking is a great way to make friends while sharing something from back home. Everyone loves to eat.
- At AP House, all rooms are equipped with a LAN cable so make sure the computer you are bringing has an Ethernet port. Wifi is available in the lobby of AP House and in most buildings on campus.
- Haven’t opened up that lovely Survival Japanese textbook yet APU sent to you by express mail all the way from Beppu? You need to learn hiragana and katakana before classes start so start studying now and don’t get behind. (Hasn’t arrived yet? No problem because the materials are available online. No excuses!)
- While you will be busy getting ready for departure, don’t forget to schedule in some extra time with your family and friends before you leave.
Once you arrive
- Getting to know people from the same country/region/state/province/prefecture/island/etc. as you is great but remember how the admissions office dazzled you with that statistic of “APU has students from more than 80 countries/regions?” Maybe you can actually make 80 friends from 80 different places. It’s up to you, but you won’t know until you try. AP House is the best place to do this because when you move off campus, students live in different apartments across the city rather than just under one roof. Remember, at AP House, everyone is new and looking to make friends.
- Attend all orientation sessions that are relevant to you. Getting the right information during these sessions is one of the first steps to succeeding at APU. The schedule may be updated so be sure to check back often.
- During the orientation period you will see students in red t-shirts or jackets with “Just ask me!” on the back. These are members of FLAG, and they are here to help you through the orientation process. They put on welcome events and conduct some of the guidance sessions during orientation for new students. If you have any questions -- whether you are looking for a classroom, or have questions about how to register for classes -- just ask FLAG!
- Check your APU email and Campus Terminal (portal site for APU students) regularly. You don’t want to miss out on any important information, changes in schedules/deadlines, etc. just because you didn’t see an announcement. FYI - you will receive your login information during orientation.
- APU and AP House are located up on a mountain! Food-wise, it is important to plan ahead for grocery shopping if you intend to do a lot of cooking. The co-op shop on campus does have some basic necessities and there are also some vending machines inside the dorms. During the semester, there are also local food vendors that sell things such as vegetables and prepared foods on campus. Even if you plan to eat most of your meals in the cafeteria, it is always nice to have some basic food items and snacks in your room.
- AP House provides you with bedding – blanket, pillow, sheets, and a futon bed that is raised off the ground. The pillow is a traditional Japanese pillow that has beads in it so some students prefer to bring or buy their own. Some students also choose to buy foam mattress padding to put under the futon.
- When you first get to APU, it will take several weeks for your bank account to get set up and working. Also, some ATMs in Japan do accept international debit cards, but not all do. For these reasons, you should be careful about budgeting and spending the money you bring with you, and make sure you don’t run out before you are able to receive wire transfers to your bank account from your family or a scholarship organization.
- Your first semester at APU is a great time for you to try out new clubs and activities. But balance is key - don’t overcommit and fall behind in your classes as it will be hard to catch up.
- After registering for classes, wait to buy textbooks until you know you need them. Even if a professor includes a textbook on their syllabus, sometimes they won’t require it or will use other materials in its place.
- When picking your classes, find an RA or upperclassmen to consult with – they can tell you more about the classes you are thinking about and possibly give you other options you hadn’t considered. You will find that most students at APU are very approachable and always willing to help out.
- Be patient when signing up for a cell phone. Cell phone companies have different policies to what documentation they require for you to have to get a contract (such as a bank account). It may take a few weeks for you to get everything necessary so be prepared for this.
Once classes start
- Very simple - go to class. As an adult and college student, this is now your responsibility.
- All new first year students are required to take Workshop I and II classes during their first year. These classes are about improving your writing and intercultural communication skills. Be prepared to be flexible and cooperative to get the most out of these classes.
- During your first semester, most of you will be taking very intense Japanese classes. Again, do not miss class, and do not get behind. Getting off to a strong start in your Japanese class will set you up for success for the rest of your time at APU and beyond. It will be challenging but not impossible! (Especially if you have already started studying on your own beforehand.)
- APU has a wonderful library! You can study with friends on the first floor or study silently on your own on the second floor. Getting in a good habit of studying here after class before you head back to the dorms is highly recommended.
- If you are thinking about a part-time job, wait until at least your second semester before you start. It is very important to focus on doing well in your classes and getting used to life in Japan before adding in another element of working. Also, don’t work until you get your work permit!
- If you find yourself overwhelmed, unsure of something, homesick, etc., please, please, please talk with someone you are comfortable with, such as an RA, TA, professor, APU’s counseling office, member of a club you are in, your friends or family. (APU’s counseling office is located on the first floor of Building A and can provide support in English, Japanese, Chinese and Mongolian.) Everyone experiences these feelings at some point and having someone to confide in can make all the difference.
- Finally, going to university is such a unique experience that most people only get do once in their lives. Do your best, study hard and have fun while you do!
We hope this information was helpful for you and can’t wait to see you on campus. Share your photos traveling to Japan, moving in to AP House and getting to know the campus using the hashtag #newtoAPU for a chance to be featured on our official Instagram feed!