Unfortunately, even when you actually get accepted fully into the study abroad program with your school, jumping through all the hoops necessary to complete paperwork before the deadline, paperwork is never truly finished. The good news is that deadlines are a little more lenient. Instead of dealing with paperwork from my home university, at this point, you begin having to deal with paperwork from the foreign university, which is where the next pile of paperwork comes in.
After completing things for my home university, there was paperwork that was mailed to me directly from NUFS (Nagoya University of Foreign Study). This included things such as the paperwork on which classes I intended, a physical exam performed by my physician before I leave, copies of airline tickets, as well some paperwork in regards to where I would be staying when I got there. Some of this paperwork was rather easy, while others were a bit of a pain… but one of the things that had to be done was it had to be physically mailed back to the university. That means international mail, which you pay out of pocket. It kind of sucks, but if you’ve already put this much effort into it, what is another 30 or 40 dollars, right?
Most of the paperwork was rather straight forward. I had to get a basic little medical exam from a doctor to prove I was healthy before going, as well that I was in good enough condition to survive the almost 5 months I would be there. Pretty easy, honestly… except that I don’t actually have a physician I see. So I had to go to my local Stat Care, which is basically a quick little place to get seen by a doctor when it isn’t enough of an emergency to go to the ER and get seen by a doctor there. Pretty quick, ultimately.
There was also paperwork we had to fill out in regards to getting a VISA from the university (Nagoya). For Japan, you can stay up to 90 days without a VISA, but anything past that you need a VISA to stay, such as work visa, tourist visa, or student visa. Obviously I would be needing a student visa, so I filled out paperwork in regards to my nationality, student status, and the fact that I did indeed have a passport. Ultimately, pretty straight forward, really.
I am unsure how it might be with other places, but in regards to Nagoya, there was paperwork asking in which location I wanted to live… they actually had two. One was an official dorm run by the school called International House (or I House), and the other was an apartment building rented by the school for students named Proxy Friends. There were pros and cons for both places, such as I House being closer and a little cheaper, had more of a school dorm environment, but they had a curfew and greater limitations upon visitation. Proxy friends on the other hand had slightly bigger rooms (like small studio apartments), had no curfew, and was more oriented for people living on their own, including no restrictions on visitors. Me and my buddy Jason decided to go for Proxy Friends, based more-or-less on the fact that we didn’t want to be held back by a curfew.
One of the only real hiccups that we had in regards to the paperwork came in regards to our Airline tickets. The university in Nagoya wished for us to arrive on March 9th or 10th, which in and of itself isn’t a problem. We had talked to our study abroad advisor and asked if he knew if there would be any difficulty going early and doing a little sight-seeing… he had sent students to Nagoya before, so we figured he would know. He didn’t see any type of issue, so we booked our tickets to fly into Tokyo on March 5th, with the intention of sightseeing in Tokyo for those 5 days, before taking a train to Nagoya to arrive on the 10th as we were instructed. So we purchased tickets online and sent them electronically to Nagoya University as was necessary. And this was very necessary, as we actually had to show them we purchased the tickets before they would send us the VISA, rather than the other way around!
Very shortly after we did this, we got an email back from the University that stated we couldn’t arrive early, and that we had to change our tickets or risk forfeiting our study abroad at the school. Needless to say, this was a rather stressful email to receive. Talking to our advisor, he said they were ultimately the final say in this regard, and that we obviously had to change the ticket. Deciding to try and talk to Nagoya, we asked if there was any way we were allowed in early. But according to them, regulations for the country had changed in some manner, not allowing for us to do so. Unfortunately, there was ultimately little we could do… I certainly wasn’t going to argue with the school and risk not going!
So we went about proceeding to change our tickets… it only cost us 600 dollars. Yes, you read that right. 600 dollars to wind up changing our airline tickets from flying into Tokyo on the 5th of March to flying into Nagoya on the 10th of March. That is quite a bit of money to just change some dates… and for the longest time (actually, even now), it really irks me that we couldn’t have gone in early. That is 600 dollars I could have spent on a lot of highly unnecessary souvenirs, or to cover bills while I was gone. But this is just one of the examples of how sometimes things can not go the way you wish they would.
… *incoherently mumbling about the 600 dollars*.
But regardless, once the paperwork is all done, and sent to the university in your foreign country of choice, they will begin the process of filing the paperwork for your student VISA, which is literally the last thing at this point that would likely keep you from studying abroad. For more information on this type of stuff, I would check out…
… as it has some helpful information as to paperwork requirements and guidelines. Just remember… always keep a line of conversation going with your point of contact and ask them about things like this, to avoid a rather costly financial mistake such as I made.
And yes, the above picture is a very good representation of how I felt after having to change those airline tickets. The only real silver lining is that we got to fly -in- to Nagoya and have someone meet us at the airport to guide us to the university, and still got to leave out of Tokyo…. meaning we would get to tour and see some of the sights before heading back to the States. But 600 dollars…. it still hurts my heart to think of how much more fun I could have had with it. Ah well…. say la vi!