First impressions Student exchange Study Uncategorized

Day in the Life of a Japanese University Student (Rikkyo)

It has been just a little under 6 weeks since I embarked on my year long journey to Tokyo, where I am currently studying at the incredibly beautiful Rikkyo University. In the short time I have been here (which seems to have passed in the blink of an eye), I have leaped from my comfort zone in almost every aspect of my daily life; I eat a range of new foods, I have made a lot of new friends, explored incredibly beautiful places, and everyday I attempt to speak in a language I am still highly unsure of. Nevertheless, I approach every day with an attitude of eagerness, and hope to continue to do so throughout my exchange.

Just some of my explorations so far: Tokyo Tower, Hakone, Kawagoe.


I’m sure I will continue to share my experiences about general life in Japan, however, today I will give you a brief overview of what my daily life as a student looks like, so far.



Typically, (unless karaoke from the night before is involved), I wake up early and lounge around my dorm. My dorm (RIR Shiinamachi, for those of you interested) is incredible, and I couldn’t have wished for a better location; I live just a brisk 15-minute walk from campus. I have breakfast in the cafeteria, where everyday, so far, there has been at least one item of food that I haven’t yet tried. I eat, chat with anyone who is there, and try to decipher the Japanese morning news, which, by the way, has an amazingly-brilliant number of wacky sound effects. Afterwards, I leave the dorm for the day at about 8AM, and get to University soon after. I usually spend the the time before class starts doing revision, practicing my Japanese, or doing some readings.

The view of the main building on campus. Every day I take so many photos of it! 

From 9:00AM = Classes:

Between 9AM – 5PM I attend class, each of which are 1 and a half hours long, and are distinguishable from my experience at QUT in a number of ways. Firstly, I don’t really have any lectures; all of my classes are analogous to “workshops”, and all have quite high participation marks built into the course structure (I’m talking 30/40%). The teacher (先生 – Sensei) goes through the topic in reference to the weekly readings, and then opens the floor for discussion or asks specific people questions. With the credit system here, I have to study 7 subjects, and some meet more than once a week, so I have 11 actual classes. However, the difficulty of the work is, in my opinion, significantly less intense than my subjects back home. The assignments and exams are not overly difficult, however the general study is A LOT more (I come 5 days a week, I have homework for every class, every week – often more than once a week, and this is on top of regular study).

A typical classroom. Very old school, and yes, they still use the blackboards. 

There are 6 periods in a day (you may not have class in every one, though) and conveniently a designated time for lunch! Between 12:15PM – 1:00PM, students burst from their classrooms and fill the campus’ multiple cafeterias (食堂 -Shokudō), and the convenience store nearby. The food is so cheap, generally under $5AUD, and is always good quality –  in true Japanese fashion.

If I ever have spare periods, you will probably find me in the library, which is wonderful and has an astonishing amount of resources to use/browse. You will always find a seat, and it is always super quiet; the Japanese cultural values of politeness and conscientiousness really flow through to every aspect of life.


6:00PM – Bedtime:

The neighbourhood bell (that’s right, a bell), chimes out at 6PM signalling that it’s DINNER TIME (side note: this isn’t actually the sole purpose of the bell, but for Shiinamachi dorm, it usually is). My friends and I walk down and grab our trays and tables, waiting to see what the new exciting dish will be. There are often Japanese game shows on, which we play/watch along with – sometimes to the point where everyone is screaming and laughing at the TV. I spend an hour or so down there, just chatting to everyone about the day. I will definitely miss chatting to everyone I have met here so far, as they are all only here for 1 semester. In the time after dinner and before I sleep, I usually just do what I did back home; I watch TV, talk with family, or study.

Some of the amazing dishes so far! I stole these photos from my friends, because I am always too hungry to take pictures first! 

So, although some things remain the same from my life back in Australia, many, many things have changed. And so far, I am really enjoying it. I love the people I am meeting, the new schedule I follow, the time I have to dedicate to my studies, and the areas around me I get to explore some more of everyday. If you have any questions about studying in Japan, or something you want to know about general life in Tokyo, please let me know!

Until next time! またね~


  1. Hi! It’s so relieving to see others who have gotten through the stress of planning study abroad and finally get to live it! I’m in the process of getting ready to study at Rikkyo next spring, and had some questions about the Shiinamachi dorm – it’s the one I hope to get into. Did you get to note a preference for which dorm you’d like, or were you just placed in one? Are there semester-long exchange students in the dorm or just full year exchanges? Do you know if Shiinamachi residents are eligible/have recieved the dorm fee waiver/scholarship?
    Thanks for taking the time to help out a slightly stressed hopeful (◕‿◕✿)

    • n9666320 Reply

      Hey Sarah!

      Glad to hear you’ll be joining me at Rikkyo next semester! I’m having a great time so far, and I’m sure you will too! In response to your questions;

      Did you get to note a preference for which dorm you’d like, or were you just placed in one?: You get a preference! However, this doesn’t guarantee your placement in any particular dorm. When you apply, there are excel spread sheets and forms to fill out. They require various information about you and your schooling history, but they will also ask if you wish to stay in one of the university dorms. There are 4 (Shiinamachi, Shiki, Asakadai, and Global House), and you order them from 1 to 4, with 1 being your first preference. You also have to agree when submitting that you know there is a possibility of being placed into any of them, because you can’t ask for reassignment once you receive acceptance.

      Are there semester-long exchange students in the dorm or just full year exchanges?: In Shiinamachi ( and all dorms alike, actually) there is a mixture of 1-sem/2-sem students. For example, in Shiinamachi, there are a handful of international students who started in semester two last year, and this is now their last semester. This semester, there is myself and one other girl from Austria who started in March, and are staying the full year; everyone else, like most students, only stay for 6 months. So, tl;dr -your length of stay doesn’t factor into your dorm assignment.

      Do you know if Shiinamachi residents are eligible/have recieved the dorm fee waiver/scholarship? Shiinamachi students are not eligible for dorm fee waivers, however, we are eligible for the JASSO scholarship (which is what I, and a couple of other Shiinamachi residents have been fortunate enough to receive). Its a 80,000¥ per month, and it covers all my bills and some. Any of the other dorms are eligible for dorm fee waiver. You can apply for both JASSO and dorm fee waiver, but you can’t receive both. My friend and fellow QUT student, Tara, is also at Rikkyo for a full year; she received the dorm fee waiver instead of JASSO, and is staying in Global House. If you have more questions about Global, I’m sure she would be happy to answer! She wrote a post a couple of months ago if you need to find her.

      I hope I answered your questions, but if you need to ask more, I am more than happy to oblige. I know I struggled to find information about the dorms, or about Rikkyo in general, before I came. Feel free to contact me on social media, if it’s easier; FB: Brittany Paull.

      • This is incredibly helpful!! It’s been so hard to find specific details on some things, your answers are exactly what I needed to know. I went ahead and sent you a friend request on FB – as my semester draws closer I’ll likely have some more questions I’ll be equally grateful for answers to. Thank you so much!

  2. Hi! I’m really glad I came across this post because I’m going to be starting my semester in Rikkyo uni in Fall and I happen to apply for Shiinamachi. I was wondering what sort of things do you have in your room? I like to cook and I wasn’t sure if Shiinamachi rooms have a stove or anything of that sort.

    • n9666320 Reply

      Hi Lily!

      That’s awesome that you’ll be joining me here next Semester! I look forward to meeting you. I’ll try to describe the dorm as best as I can. In lieu of photos of my actual dorm (because I haven’t got around to taking nice ones yet), I will link you to these images I found before I arrived;

      The images in this folder are pretty much exactly what the dorms look like. We don’t have access to a full kitchen, because there is a cafeteria where we get meals made for us. However, in your room you have a large sized fridge/freezer and many outlets. Furthermore, in the dining part of the cafeteria you have 24hr access to a microwave, a toaster oven and hot/cold water. I purchased an inexpensive, electric kettle when I arrived because I wanted to be able to make tea/hot chocolate/soup etc. from my room.

      As for the rest of my room, I have a single bed, a good sized desk, a small set of drawers (that normally slides under the desk, but I’ve moved it around – you’re allowed to move anything as long as you put it back), a TV cabinet/general low cabinet type thing, a clothes closet, a shoe closet, shower/bath room, a seperate toilet, a sink/mirror area, and a washing machine.

      You have a balcony area, but I don’t really use it all that much. This is because inside the room there is a really cool retractable pole that comes down from the roof where you can hang your laundry. This is kind of hard to imagine, buutt it’s super handy. Oh! You’ll also be given a wifi router from one of the students who are leaving, so you’ll have internet access pretty much immediately. The rooms all have wifi, an intercom system where you can let people into the building and talk to people who ring your doorbell, and the bathroom has this fancy ventilation system that doubles as a dryer (I haven’t really figured this out myself, to be honest).

      I have no complaints about Shiinamachi what-so-ever. I am very fortunate to be living here!

      If you have any further questions, feel free to message me on social media, as it is probably easier than on here; FB – Brittany Paull.


  3. OK, I totally want to go on exchange to Rikkyo after reading this…!!

    • n9666320 Reply

      Hi Sarah!

      It’s been an amazing experience so far, and I would highly recommend it! I’m making some great friends and really enjoying my studies here.

      If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

  4. Aleigha Oldham Reply

    Hi Brittany,

    I’m exchanging at Rikkyo this fall in September, and I’ve been assigned Shiinamachi dorm. I hope that if you’re studying the full year that we can meet up and show me around because I’m super anxious & the only person amongst my peers to be assigned to this building!

    The food looks amazing! I’m super excited to try all the delicacies they have on offer. I was worried that applying to the meal plan may leave me with a routine of foods every week but compared to my own university at York St John in the UK, the food looks amazing and very varied!

    I hope I can talk to you on Facebook, as I’d love to chat with a fellow member of Shiinamachi (assuming you’ll be completing the Fall term aswell

  5. Hey there,

    I wanted to ask if you have any information about the graduate program for international students in English.

    I am moving to japan with my husband by the end of 2019 and wanted to continue by masters diploma and rikkyo seems to be a nice choice since it offers the courses in english.

    Do you have any infor about that? I’m visiting tokyo in july to head there and would love to take a look at the campus as well as sit with the administration but im panicking and need some help before going there 😀

  6. Johanna Riege Reply

    I am exchanging for a whole year at Rikkyo University from this fall (2020), and I was initially planning to stay at one of the accommodations offered by the university, and in RIR SHIINAMACHI in particular. But now that I have read through the guidelines for the accommodation it seems super strict, such as curfew at 12 and not being able to have any visitors in your room (no matter what gender). Did you encounter any problems with this, and is it really that strict? I would love to experience the nightlife in Tokyo, and so this curfew seems quite deliberating.
    Thank you!
    Kind regards – Johanna

    • Hi Johanna, hope all is well!

      I have the same concerns as you, and was wondering if u can tell me how the experience in the dorms went, and where u ended up staying.

      Thx in advance for the answer!-Tony

  7. Howdy! Hope all is well, im going to rikkyo next winter and was wondering if the dorms were strict with their rules. Like the midnight curfew for example. Or the separation of men and women on different floors of the building.

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