Staying Connected

Getting to Japan is one thing, but figuring out the best way to stay connected is whole other challenge. Between getting connected in the dorm and on the road, you have a few options you can pursue.

Firstly, you should be aware that when you first arrive, you will not have access to wifi in the dorms or on campus for about a week. KGU requires you to register your wireless device before allowing you to connect. Problem is, they only allow you to register one device, typically your laptop. Once that’s done however, you are free to use the wifi on campus or anywhere in the dorm. Be aware, access can be REALLY slow during the first month or so. Unless they’ve upgraded their networks, loading times were painful.

This section aims to help shed some light on all your options. If I had known this information before I had went, I would have saved myself a lot of money.

Bring Your Own Device

One option I’m sure you’ve thought of already, using your own device. There are three ways you can do this, though I don’t recommend this option.

  • Subscribe to an international roaming/data plan with your current network provider. Not really recommended as this can be really pricey and not worth the hassle

  • Unlock your phone and purchase an international sim card that can be activated on Japanese networks such as Softbank or Docomo. This option can be difficult to set up, but could be worth it IF you are staying in Japan for more than one semester.

  • Lastly, you could purchase a mobile pocket wifi device. More about this gadget below. Most recommended of these three options.

Japanese Keitai (Cell Phone)

One option for staying in touch with your friends is getting a Japanese Keitai, or cell phone. There are two common plans at Softbank which student typically choose from.

If you are only staying for one semester, I recommend buying the phone and paying topping up your minutes as you run out. These phone can also handle email as well.

The other option is suggested for students who are staying for two semesters or more in Japan. It is a monthly plan and runs about ¥3000 /month.

Tips: Avoid the hype of getting a cell phone. This may seem like the big buzz around campus, but is not worth it in my opinion. There are better options available below.

Pocket Wifi

Pocket Wifi, the most recommended option. Head over to Edion and check out their current deals and promotions. When I arrived, they were running a promotion where you received a free iTouch for signing up for a wimax pocket wifi. It’s run on a one year contract but the cancellation fee is pretty reasonable. I highly recommend this option for all students, especially those staying for more than one semester. This device will last you well over 8-10 hours a day and provides a reasonably fast connection if you wish to you use your laptop with it as you can connect multiple devices. Monthly contract price is about ¥3500, prices may have fluctuated since then. You will need a credit card for the monthly billings.

Tips:

  • You can connect any wifi device to this device, including your current smartphone. I recommend you download the app called Line. Nearly every Japanese student will use this app to keep in touch with you.

  • Sign up early as there may be free promotions for devices such as tablets and iPods.

  • Highly recommended over a Japanese cell phone as you can use google maps. This will be life-saver; additionally, familiarize yourself with the website www.hyperdia.com this site will help you navigate the Japanese transit system with ease.

Bonus Tip: While staying briefly in seminar house 3, my roommates and I purchased a wifi extender from Edion for about ¥2000 ($20), and plugged it into our dorms LAN connection. To our surprise, we effectively created our own wireless hotspot. This allowed us to connect all of our other wifi devices such as tablets and phones, getting around the one device only rubbish. However, if you’r planning on buying a pocket wifi, this won’t really apply to you and won’t be necessary.

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