Well, I finally took a trip over to Ritsumeikan in Kyoto and I’ve made my final decision: if I’m accepted, I’ll pack up and move. Of course, this means that I won’t have any classes until April 1st – it’s quite a while to wait – but here’s why I think it will be worth it:
1) Ritsumeikan is a much more prestigious school than Kansai Gaidai, and even students who went to and loved KG recommended that I go to Rits for the sake of a better learning environment.
2) Ritsumeikan’s campus is FAR nicer than Kansai Gaidai’s with a bookstore that rivals any Barnes n’ Noble, several restaurants with huge menus, a GOOD WEIGHTROOM (I’m talking ALL of the equipment you need for a FULL workout…none of this build-it-yourself dumbbell business), etc, etc.
3) KG’s foreign exchange student program is separated from the Japanese student program; Ritsumeikan’s is completely integrated. More interaction = more language practice.
4) Rits in Kyoto. I love Kyoto.
5) I found a place to live that’s 25 minutes by bike from Ritsumeikan, 20 minutes by bike from downtown Kyoto (I can stay out after the subway lines shut down at midnight!), 5 minutes by foot to the main CHEAP Hankyu train line between Kyoto and Osaka (apparently the only line that stops in Hirakata, the Keihan line, is SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive than all of the others in the area – and by living near the Hankyu line I’ll be able to get all the way from Kyoto to Osaka for the price I’m paying now to go from here to either place, half the distance).
6) The new place’s rent is $200 less per month than where I’m currently living. It’s not nearly as nice of a place, but my room will be slightly bigger, still have internet, and the location is spectacular (it’s RIGHT in the city…the place I live at now is a hike up a big hill from town)
While it will suck to leave all of the friends I’ve already made here at OEH, I think it’ll be worth it. And in all honesty, one of the biggest reasons is money. I haven’t really stressed on my site here how strapped I’ve been for cash, but Japan truly is ASTONISHINGLY expensive, and my main expense has been transportation. Hirakata’s a fine city, but the really cool stuff is all in Kyoto or Osaka – a $4 ticket each way on the Keihan line, and that just gets you TO the city – you have to take other lines to get anywhere of interest. By living in Kyoto, biking everywhere I want to go, paying less rent, and taking the Hankyu line instead of the Keihan line, I should have significantly more spending money and thus be able to do a lot more. Hopefully.
I’ll probably make the move in a month or so; I’d like to go sooner but OEH requires a month’s notice or else I lose my $500 deposit. D’oh!
But I still must remember: Ritsumeikan hasn’t accepted me yet. I went into the office in person today and pushed as hard as I could for a result, but they assured me that they won’t have a final decision until January 26th, the DAY that I have to pay my entrance fees at Kansai Gaidai. Let’s hope I find out in the morning…
But aaaaanyways, aside from visiting Kyoto today I made another 13 friends or so yesterday via my “speaking partner” at Kansai Gaidai. She invited me to go bowling and then to Karaoke with her and a bunch of her friends. It was good times, although I had been up kind of late the night before so by the time we got to Karaoke I was a bit tired and not too into it. Still, they were an awesome group of people and hopefully we’ll have some more good times while I’m still here in Hirakata 🙂