Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris Accepted: Department of Imaging Arts and Sciences September 2015 to January 2016
I chose to come to Musashino Art University because I knew this school was very different from mine in Paris. I knew that these differences would have a positive influence on my work. I was also very exited to show my photographs to new people, benefit from their feedback and see through new eyes.
I am studying photography in the Department of Imaging Arts and Sciences, and they have a lot of equipment. The staff is always kind, available whenever you have a problem and even though communication can be quite difficult since I don't speak any Japanese, I have always found people to help me in anyway they could.
So far it's been a very positive experience. The feedback I received from the teachers was very interesting, and they made me open my work to new paths. Studying arts in a city like Tokyo is very stimulating. There is always something happening, and it is very easy to travel around.
Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture Accepted: Department of Science of Design September 2015 to January 2016
I’d been planning to go for exchange to Japan for a long time, and finally now I’ve had the chance to make this plan come true. This is my first time in Japan, but two months in, I feel like it’s been quite easy to get used to the way things work here. Naturally, I’ve also had my moments of frustration, but one can take those as learning experiences. I can speak some Japanese, enough to have casual conversations with people, but not really enough to follow lectures wholly in Japanese. Luckily, I have a student tutor who’s helping me with translating. People are willing to help you before you even ask them for help, and that’s wonderful.
MAU has been a good choice for me. Although it’s at some distance from the center of Tokyo, it’s still surrounded by a living city. Coming from Helsinki, Finland, everything seems large-scale. The campus is a breathing entity that’s fun to explore. The library is an architectural beauty and full of interesting books. In Tokyo there’s a lot to explore, way too much, and I think that’s the beauty of the metropolis. The train connections are good and bring everything much closer.
I’ve been able to take courses with variety, from Bamboo Design to Contextual Studies (with teatime!). The subjects are interesting, the teachers and lecturers very capable, but more than anything I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and finding ways to connect with them.
Even with plenty of rules and a curfew, I feel very much at home at the dormitory. The student dormitory is clean, comfortable and has the just right amount of space for a student. The dorm manager is very helpful and has a good sense of humour.
I’ve found the exchange to be a splendid way to find broader understanding for your fellow human beings, for a different culture and to get to know yourself better as well. The bad part is that when you’re having fun, time flies.
Pratt Institute Accepted: Department of Imaging Art and Sciences September 2015 to January 2016
I was somewhat worried about my lack of Japanese skills before coming to Japan. It didn't help that every time I mentioned my upcoming exchange at Musashino, people would ask, "How do you study in Japan when you don't know the language?"
Lucky for me, I met a lot of people who were very friendly and were willing to help. Some could speak English but were afraid to, and others worked with the little Japanese I knew to communicate. The language barrier really doesn't become a problem after a while, and I really settled into the university. It helped to join the dance club where I could meet a lot of new and interesting people from all the different departments.
I was hoping to come to Japan to meet more people, and I got to know more than I expected to. Since my inspiration comes from the people I meet and interact with, I'm very happy with my stay so far, and I know Musashino still has a lot left to offer.
Berlin University of the Arts Accepted: Department of Imaging Arts and Sciences September 2015 to January 2016
After having completed roughly half of my semester at Musashino University, I still can’t really grasp all the new experiences I have made. I came to Japan to get to know its peculiarities in art practice and education ; for instance, for my interest in those respective fields in special relation to Japanese culture, as well as to get distance of the education and art space in Berlin. A new situation not only broadens the mind for something new, but the distance also gives understanding for something taken for granted. I have found gains in both during my stay.
The teachers, students and faculty at MAU have been very kind and helpful in every aspect. From choosing courses, to understanding class discourse, I have never felt out of place. As I don’t speak Japanese, there is obviously often somewhat of a language barrier. But if there is a will then there is a way, and ultimately some kind of understanding is always achieved.
I have majorly visited classes of Department of Imaging Arts and Sciences, with a focus on photography. These classes characterize themselves as being quite relaxed, there is an open atmosphere of exchange. They distinguish themselves through a lot of group work. Not only student work is being discussed, technical knowledge is also being taught, even on the level of master’s courses.
The campus at MAU is very intimate and has great facilities. I spend a lot of time at the beautiful library, which also contains a great media centre.
Even though I have seen much, there is still so much to explore at the University. The semester is passing quickly, and half of my stay is already over. I am sure I will still be sorting through my experiences long after I have returned to Berlin.
Hong-Ik University Accepted: Department of Science of Design September 2015 to January 2016
My major is Visual Communication Design, originally, but I chose the Department of Science of Design because I’ve always felt a thirst for the intrinsic part of design and I couldn’t find the way to relieve it by myself. And now I think I’ve made a great choice because it’s all about the fundamental parts of design such as shapes, movements and organization. If your Japanese ability is enough for taking lectures, I really recommend the theory classes in this department because they are focused more on design than the theory itself, it’s an opportunity to use our imagination over the lecture. And I had fun listening to other students’ opinions in the class because the students I met here have very different ways of thinking compared to my original school and it makes the air of this university more free. And it’s amazing to have professors who are listening to you carefully and try to give feedbacks as much as they can.
And speaking about facilities, the library is one of my favorite parts of this university. They have a great amount of books, magazines, and movies to inspire you. And besides the library, there are places where you can print out your works for free. Therefore, I think this university is a great place to create something. And as well as this university, I’m sure that the city which is full of various options and designs will give you great inspiration.
Koln International School of Design Accepted: Department of Visual Communication Design April 2015 to January 2016
Before I even started my study at my hometown university in Germany I visited already in the year 2012 the campus of Musabi. The first reason was actually just because one of my favorite animators graduated from this university, so I just wanted to know how the atmosphere was there. After a few minutes I already felt in love with Musabi’s Campus and decided on this day to make a exchange year here (I think this trip also influenced my decision to apply for my current hometown university though).
When I got finally the announcement that my university and Musabi have a proper exchange program, I was so exited to get the chance to study at my dream university. So yes, I did it and finally I am here and spending my time in my favorite country and in my favorite school. Also that I got the opportunity to study not just a half year here, in total one year is a great opportunity and I am so thankful to got this chance.
Musabi has so many different Departments which are not all Design related though, which made the decision for me really difficult. In the end I chose Department of Visual Communication Design, which was the best choice in the end. The courses are all in Japanese which I pretty appreciated, because I wanted to improve my Japanese. Even I don’t understand everything sometimes, my lovely classmates helped me a lot! One of the main reasons I chose Department of Visual Communication Design was the Illustration course from Yokoyama sensei, which gave me really a lot of new experience and it also opens my eyes to what I really want to do in the future.
One part which I will miss back in my hometown University, is the whole creative atmosphere. If you go to school, you will see the sculpture people in their studios already working. Then in the lunch break you are going to the University’s Bakery, Emu, to buy some delicious bread. After school you can go to the beautiful library to review the last course or studying some Japanese. And if you forgot some materials which you need for your new project, you can just buy it in the school’s "Sekaido".
Yes, this school life I will miss a lot. But not only the school like, also whole Japan I will miss. So to be honest I don’t want to go home. But still I have some months left and I will enjoy this time a lot with my friends here.
I really have to say to everyone, thank you for everything. This year was definitely the best year in my whole life and I am sure it’s not a "farewell", more a "see you again soon, Musabi!"
Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts Accepted: Department of Imaging Arts and Sciences April 2015 to July 2015
I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at Musabi. I knew the campus was a bit out of town so I figured it would be spacious but I didn't think it would be so big. Musabi is an hour away from the center of Tokyo, and I found it’s a good thing to be removed from the distractions of the city when you want to focus on your work.
There are a lot of departments and you can find friendly people in each and every one of them. Some people will speak English, and the ones who don't will make an effort to try to understand your three words of broken Japanese. I've met a lot of very helpful students and teachers who are eager to lend you a hand when you inevitably have some problems understanding something.
The atmosphere here is one of playful experimentation - people don't take their work too seriously and a lot of works I've seen are deep yet funny and approachable. Since there are a lot of different departments, you can wander around and get inspired by the countless techniques all the students are using.
I've reached the middle of my semester here, and I'm happy I still have time to explore this huge university.
Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture Accepted: Department of Imaging Arts and Sciences April 2015 to July 2015
The spring semester at Musashino Art University has been a beautiful continuation of my interest in East Asian cultures that began already 10 years ago in China. I wasn’t sure what to expect for the studies since my Japanese language skills are poor, but I’ve been delighted at how manageable participating in the courses has been. There is always at least one student who can translate the teaching, and gradually also other students have grown more eager to speak English as my skills to speak Japanese also develop. The more practical the subject matter, the easier it is to get along.
The thing that initially triggered my imagination and made me apply for an exchange in Japan was the curiosity towards the culture within which artworks and design objects at the same time familiar and exotic to my Scandinavian eyes are born. As my main interest is photography and contemporary art, the beautiful library at the campus has been a great source of information and inspiration with a wide range of photo books covering works of Japanese photographers as well as foreign ones. In the context of photography, I’ve found it fascinating to observe the use of colors, the way to build a body of work, the obscure, sensuous or straightforward attitude - just to mention a few examples.
When it comes to everyday life at the campus and outside, everything has been well taken care of. All people working in different offices have been very helpful despite the language barrier. It is easy to borrow photography equipment, and the campus area provides many kinds of other facilities. I chose to participate in a darkroom class since this kind of facility doesn’t exist in my university anymore, and it has also been a nice way to learn to know other students.
In addition to the courses provided, the stay in Japan has been a good way to find space and time to develop my own expression further. As my works are mostly about human relationship with nature, Tokyo has been surprisingly diverse platform for these kinds of thoughts: the urban beat often goes hand in hand with the appreciation of the natural, although often human made environments. The suburban area, where both the campus and student dormitory are located, is an interesting mixture of agricultural activities and modern middle-class living.
Politecnico di Milano, Facolta del Design Accepted: Department of Design Informatics April 2015 to July 2015
Japan has always been one of my “must-live-for a while” countries. Although I just never knew when I would have this opportunity, here I am in Musashino Art University, and somehow I feel like this is a dream come true. But since I didn’t know a word of Japanese before I came here, I also knew this dream would be quite difficult.
Since I arrived at Musabi, everything has been so well-organized, from the first day of dormitory check-in to all the arrangement of department and classes, and people are always willing to help me. In my class I have this really friendly classmate who is helping me during all the lessons, and in dormitory we have a nice advisor girl who is living in the dormitory as well.
During all the classes and project making, I would say the way of working here is quite different from my school, but that’s the point and the purpose why we are here, to really experience not only art, scenery, city, but people, and the way people are working and living. We also participated in a workshop which was held by a professor from Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, University of the Arts, London, Professor Nicholas Rhodes. Through this workshop, it also makes me know about Musabi’s strong international relationship with all the other excellent art institutions.
Overall, Tokyo is absolutely a fascinating city where you can always find millions of interesting things to see, but Musabi has become the best part of my own Tokyo memory.
Pratt Institute Accepted: Department of Industrial, Interior and Craft Design April 2015 to July 2015
The exchange experience at MAU has been a bag full of surprises so far. Everyone has an image of Japan and what it could be like living there. Rest assured that all of these expectations, regardless of how many times you’ve been to the country as a tourist before, will be defied. Of course the experience has been incredibly valuable. As the details of the Japanese life style start to sink in, one might start to wonder why one’s home country isn’t as considerate.
I would say, for those that are looking forward to attending MAU, that mastering some basic Japanese language would exponentially increase your learning experience. You will get along fine without it, and there are plenty other foreign students that you can befriend. But the nuances of a culture simply cannot be fully appreciated without some core language basis. By knowing just a little, your Japanese classmates will at least be able to attempt to socialize and help you integrate into the culture. They can be very shy, but incredibly interesting and friendly once known. Only being able to speak a foreign language at a fast speed might intimidate them to approach you.
There will be rules. Some that make sense, and some that don’t. Try not to get caught up into debate or frustration. Just respect the culture and try to understand their viewpoint. The more you understand their thinking, the better you will be able to get along with locals. Befriending the baker’s wife down the street or your local art supply store employee truly adds color and sweetness into everyday errands.
All in all, MAU is everything I could hope it to be, and honestly, so much more. You just have to be brave enough to find and experience it.
Julian Simon Hölting
Berlin University of the Arts Accepted: Department of Architecture April 2015 to July 2015
Already two months have passed! That’s half the time of my stay in Japan. And still I am always stunned when I leave the train in Shibuya and Tokyo and its impressions overcome me. This city seems to be endless and I am sure there is even no native Tokyoite who can say he fully knows this city.
But beside all these new impressions that you have when you discover a new city, there is the lovely place called Musabi. The students who are friendly and the campus which is free atmosphere give me always a good basis and reason for my stay in Japan. A bit far away from center of Tokyo in an area which works more like a rural village and located next to a small river, Musashino Art University seems like a small utopia.
To study at Musabi is first of all to meet new people. Despite my bad Japanese and the mostly not really developed English knowledge of the young Japanese people, almost everyone tries to get in contact with you and is interested, and that made me feel part of the school very fast.
The interactive innovation class and the huge amount of clubs you can join helped me a lot to find friends and people whom I meet also outside the University. From the first day, everything has been perfectly organized. My schedule, my tutors, and my room in the dormitory everything works without any complications. And thanks to my main professor, I got used to the way of thinking and how you do a project in Japan very quickly.
Staying in the dorm is for foreign students something which takes time to get used to. The rules feel strict and there is not really a lively atmosphere. But after a short time I got used to it and especially the amazing dorm manager helped me to feel at home there.
After two months I can already say that I really enjoy the time at Musabi, and I am happy that there are two more months left!
Julian Eric Christian
Berlin University of the Arts Accepted: Department of Scenography, Display and Fashion Design April 2015 to July 2015
Japan is on the other side of the globe for me. Coming from Berlin, the view to the world and its habits is one peculiar display window setup here, in which self-evident conditions can be observed, leading to a more holistic comprehension. Musashino Art University gives you a fabulous basis for that. The school’s campus features every facility, department and space in a compact area, making ways short and diversity close. If you are also living in the university’s dormitory, commuting turns into a short bike ride.
The way design is mentored here is definitely different from my home experience which focusses rather on academic self-development in the first place, expecting thought-through concepts and research that consequently lead to rational design decisions. Here I feel that the personal notion, the superficial appearance and emotional decisions are ranked higher. I feel that MAU has a very supportive culture, so even if language troubles you, there is always someone to help and with the campus itself, architecturally interesting, distinct and welcoming, the university becomes a home itself, rather than just a place to study. Superfluously to say, inspiration by Japanese culture and Tokyo as the area surrounding you is a striking factor. And with the organization by the university, especially pointing to your contact with the center for international relations before arrival and afterwards, you have a great partner on your side.
Recommending an exchange program is an almost redundant objective for me. Having taking part in many, I can say, those are the times in life with uncountable numbers of alien encounters, inconceivable widths of impressions, you gaze at several times with amazement, and of course unmeasurable amounts of experiences, leading to someone’s change in mindsets while deepening understatement of human culture. Therefore, taking part in such programs is a firstly humane activity, in my opinion.