Japan Survival Guide 4: Studying, Making Friends, and Balancing That, by Hector Santiago

In this 4-part series, former KCP Fall 2012 student Hector Santiago shares tips learned during his time at KCP. In this final installment , Hector offers tips on making friends and studying. 

Tip 8—Make Friends Before you Come to Japan

This is not only a great way to prepare for the trip and learn about the culture, but it’s a great way to make a pen-pal, practice your speaking skills, and learn to live as a local. There are sites, like Japan-guide.com, where you can look for language exchange partners in Japan. You have the ability to look for people in certain regions as well. So if you know you’re going to be in Tokyo, you can look for people in Tokyo. This is a great tool—once you develop a relationship with these pen-pals, they will likely help you adjust to life in Japan when you get here.  Besides being able to read, write, and speak the language fluently, they know the best spots, they know how to save money, and they‘ll help you adapt in any way they can. If a goal is to make connections around the world, this is a great place to start.

Tip 9—Make Studying your First Priority


 KCP class. | KCP Flickr

As a student, you’re going to want to go out and see the city, hang out with friends, and so on. However, don’t forget the reason you’re here in the first place. You’re here to learn. You are a student and your schoolwork should come second to nothing while you’re abroad.

While abroad, you are a representative of your country. Don’t be that guy/girl who always wants to party and get wasted, never comes to class on time, and treats the experience like a vacation. You will not make friends this way, at least not with the right people. I’m not saying you have to spend 6 hours a night studying (though some KCP teachers might recommend it). But you know yourself well enough to know how much time and effort you need to put into your studies. Do it. By spending more time studying, not only are you setting yourself up for success in the school, but you’re also spending less time clubbing, shopping, eating, and wasting money. Make this time abroad count. It can open doors for you that would not be available otherwise.

Coming to Japan has been the greatest experience of my life so far. I am happy to have been able to share my experience and these money-saving tips with you. I am on my own journey, heading towards new horizons in international education. I wish the best to all students in their future endeavors. I wish success to those who work hard for it. I wish discipline and motivation to those who lack them. I wish goals for those who have not yet started the mission. And last but not least, I wish happiness and peace to all. Maybe one day, our paths will meet and we can learn from each other.

Until then, Sayonara.

Related posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

You can also visit his online travel journal to read about his other study abroad experiences. If you have a question for Hector about his saving suggestions, please ask him.