A while ago, I wrote a post that was kind of harsh towards ICU. I didn’t mean it to be. But I still feel bad, so I thought I should write a post about the redeeming qualities of ICU.
1. There is a bus stop ON CAMPUS that runs regular busses to both Musashisakai station and Mitaka station for only 210 yen. On average, busses leave every 10 minutes (from 8am – 8pm), but less often in the awkward hours (6am – 8am, 8pm – 10pm).
The first (or last) stop for each bus is ICU. I never have to worry about sleeping through my stop.
2. ICU has a really convenient location. It takes about 35 minute by bus and train to get to Shinjuku – the largest train station in Tokyo. However, we’re still in the country-side enough so that I can get really cheap rent for my apartment.
3. Classes never fill up. If I sign up for a class on registration day, I will get it. They determine the classroom based on the number of students that sign up for the class (ie, if only 5 students sign up, we get a tiny classroom. If 120 students sign up, we get a really large classroom). There are some exceptions (classes that fill up), but those classes are under a different header.
As an exchange student, this is wonderful. I need to fulfill my major requirements – I have friends studying at different universities who can’t get into classes that they NEED to take. At ICU, I never have to worry about that problem. It is wonderful.
4. The security guards are incredibly friendly. I got out the high school exit every day; the guards know my name and ask me about my day / comment on my outfit / chat about the weather.
I think they are wonderful.
5. The way the Japanese program (JLP) is set up, you WILL learn Japanese. JLP has something 8 (?) levels; at the end of JLP, you will be able to speak the language. I’ve learned more from three semesters of JLP than I learned from three years of Japanese classes at my home University (not to hate on my home University, it’s just that their classes are much easier).
That being said, I’m not taking JLP next semester. I can’t do 2.5 hours of Japanese a day. It is WAY too much work.
6. The classes aren’t difficult (excluding JLP). At all – or at least by “Western” standards. Every once and a while you might get stuck with a really awful class taught by a guest lecturer with uncomfortable grading policies, however, for the most part, classes are not difficult.
7. Classes don’t have “Busy-work.”
Classes (even JLP) take the majority of the grade for one exam, paper, or presentation. I’ve had classes where 80% of my grade comes from one, arbitrary 7-page paper, and the other 20% comes from attendance. I’ve had others where the final is 50%, the midterm is 40%, and classroom participation is 10%. Aside from my Japanese class, I’ve never had homework.
At ICU, the student is responsible for learning the material.
8. There are cats everywhere. I’m not joking, even in the winter, there are cats everywhere. They sometimes even let you pet them. I’ve almost hit them several times on my bike, though….
9. The cafeteria is delicious and the menu changes daily. It’s not that expensive either; a complete meal ranges from 300yen – 550yen (about 4-7 dollars), depending on if you want meat/vegetables.
I don’t eat at the cafeteria that often; twice a month at most.
Other good points:
- The cafeteria has a take-out option if you have class or a club meeting.
- It’s normal to pack your own lunch and bring it. I always make my own bento and go with friends after Japanese class.
- They serve green tea and water for anyone to drink, even if you’re only studying and not ordering food.
- It’s a great place to meet up with friends and do group projects
- They also sell snacks, fresh pastries, onigiri, and have a sort of coffee shop by the register where you can order drinks.
- You can pay either before or after you eat. When you pay, you can either swipe a pre-paid card or pay in cash at the register.
10. (Unless you’re taking JLP), it’s really easy make a schedule where you only have classes about 3 times a week. I think this is because about 85% of the students at ICU commute. A lot of my friends don’t even come into campus on Tuesdays or Fridays. That’s just how ICU works. As a result, I get a lot of free time. I’m able to get a part-time job/internship because I can schedule my classes into one or two painful days.
However, if you’re taking JLP (the Japanese Language classes), you’re screwed. You have about 2.5 hours of class a day, and that isn’t even talking about the intensive classes.
10. The campus is gorgeous. They have a long tunnel of cherry blossom trees along the entrance that is supposed to look gorgeous in the spring. I can’t wait.
The campus is enormous. They have a tea house, faculty housing, a high school, and an entire forest devoted to some sort of research.
11. I have absolute freedom. I’m supposed to have an advisor – but I’ve only seen him twice (both times for course registration). I don’t think ICU knows where I live. My professors do not have my email. I am treated like an adult.
If I don’t show up to work, if I’m failing a class, or if I don’t turn in a final report, that is my responsibility. I love it.
Final note: ICU is great for students who are self-motivated and like freedom. If you’re a little bit unsure – or you like to be told what to do/which classes to take/what you should major in/what internships you should apply for, ICU might not be for you. I don’t know.
I love ICU because of the freedom.
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