Are you getting ready for a study abroad program in Japan, but feeling nervous about getting to and from school each day? We understand! If you’ve never rode busy public transit before, the Japanese train system might feel a little bit daunting. There are a lot of trains and buses to choose from, so it’s easy to get turned around especially during rush hour. Many of our students feel nervous about their daily commute prior to going to Japan, but once they arrive and get into a routine, it becomes an empowering experience!
I was very lucky to have a really nice family where the dad actually got the train with me the first day. So, I knew what trains to get and where to change. It was much better than I expected as it worked basically the same as [transit in] London (where I live)… You just tap your card or ticket when you leave and enter the station…
Some key takeaways from Eden’s expertise:
At first, public transit in Japan seemed very intimidating. I could barely read the bus and train schedules, and I really wasn’t looking forward to going on my own. On my first train trip, I made a list of notes on where I was going, how much it would cost, and how long the trip would be.
Here’s what Emaile recommends for transit success:
The longer I stayed, the more comfortable I was with using public transit… As long as you pay attention and plan ahead, you’ll be fine!
I was extremely nervous about having to ride the bus and train by myself in Japan. However, it turned out not to be a problem at all. My host family helped me figure out which trains to ride and at what time I should leave to get to school. In fact, my host mom rode the JR line with me at first!
Joyce’s recommendations for train travel in Japan:
In no time at all, knowing my route to school became second nature.
My host mom walked me half way to the station [on my first day]. She informed me about the terminals and exits I had to take to get me to school. My first day I couldn’t read the instructions well because I was so nervous, but I saw other students holding the same piece of paper on the platform so we found it together!
A way to pay it forward:
My host mom had little journals on her desk that all of her former host kids wrote in… I was very thankful some talked about how to get to school.
When I first got to Japan, I was shown the way to get to the school and back by my host father. Unfortunately, I was so entranced with the stuff around me that I wasn’t listening… The next morning, I got to the train station and realized I had no idea which way to go… I was so confused! I suppose I got lucky that I only needed to take one train, otherwise I would have definitely gotten lost! From then on, transporting to school became easy.
Kyla’s commuter insight:
This is the experience of a lifetime, spend most of your time getting to know the culture rather than worrying over problems that can occur.