Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University


International Programs

FIRST (Freshman Intercultural Relations Study Trip) for Domestic Students

Freshman Intercultural Relations Study Trip
  • Teamwork
  • Challenge Spirits
  • Communication
  • Use of Foreigen Language

→University support for APU students interested in student Exchange

  • What is the FIRST Program?

    FIRST is a short-term, intensive program that offers first-year students the opportunity to spend the break between quarters*1 to travel to other parts of Japan or overseas and directly experience Asian culture and society by interacting with local people and conducting field research. The FIRST Program is held twice a year: once in another country for domestic students in the spring and once in another part of Japan for international students in the fall.

    After you enter APU, the FIRST Program will offer you an opportunity to step outside of the multicultural campus, and this will enhance your understanding of what it means to learn at APU while giving you a global perspective. To date, a large number of students have gotten a taste of the outside world by joining this program.
    The biggest feature of the FIRST Program is intercultural orienteering. For this activity, students divided into small groups and equipped with only the bare minimum of language training must make their own way to a designated destination in a foreign country. There, they must use teamwork and take initiative to conduct surveys while seeking help from local people. By doing this, students can meet over 200 people, which helps them develop confidence and a proactive attitude. Although senior students from the destination country accompany the program students, it is the students who take center stage.
    Thanks to the FIRST Program, many students develop an interest in studying overseas and go on to join a number of overseas programs, including language training programs, faculty-led field trips, and student exchange programs. At APU, the FIRST Program is your first chance to discover your door to the outside world.

    Professor KONDO Yuichi
    College of Asia Pacific Studies
    Director, FIRST Program

  • Deciding destinations by drawing straws!

    The biggest feature of the FIRST Program is the hands-on approach to conducting research in an unfamiliar land, culture and language. Divided into small groups, students have to use the language skills they acquire before departing Japan and make their way to a destination decided by drawing straws. Upon arrival they begin their research and carry out surveys based on a theme decided prior to arrival in the country.

  • One in three students has experienced FIRST!

    As students can enter APU in either spring or autumn, the FIRST Program is offered twice a year. The Spring FIRST Program is held overseas for domestic students*2 whereas the fall program is held in Japan for international students*2. Since the program was launched in 2007, a large number of students have taken part. It is a very popular program in which one in three Japanese students has taken part since AY2011.

    FIRST for Domestic Students

    ・Intercultual experience/understanding
    ・Exchange with people from a different country
    Location Overseas (Past example: Korea, Taiwan)
    Timing and length Spring semester (5 days)
    Credits 2credits
    Program Eligibility 1st year Domestic students*2
    Program Fee: Approx. 70,000 JPY
  • The FIRST Journey

    The program consists of pre-program sessions, field research, and post-program sessions.

    1. Pre-program sessions (one month prior to departure)

    Under the guidance of faculty members, students decide their research topics, receive crisis management guidance, and prepare themselves for departure. Each group of students is assigned one senior TA from the destination country to assist with language and cultural studies.


    2.Field research (4-5 days)

    As soon as students arrive in the country, their destinations are decided by drawing straws. Armed with a map, a few words of local language, and teamwork, the groups set off for their respective destinations.


    3.Arriving at the target destination!

    Upon arrival, students begin their research based on the topics decided prior to departure. They will need to approach approximately 500 people to complete their 200-page-plus questionnaires.


    4.At the end of the day

    Students look back on the day’s events, share their thoughts and reflections, and prepare for the next day.


    5.Post-program session

    Upon returning to APU, students present the results of their research and receive feedback from their professors. By participating in this program, participants can develop intercultural communication skills and discover a direction for their studies at APU.

NISHIJIMA Yuki (College of International Management(APM), 2nd year)

FIRST Program Student Testimonial
AY2017 FIRST Program Participant
NISHIJIMA Yuki (College of International Management (APM))

I was able to make many discoveries while on this program in Taiwan, where I challenged myself to interact with many local people despite being in an unfamiliar environment and being anxious about using a new language. In addition, I felt the warmth of the local people by actually being onsite and learning the importance of positivity and self-initiative. The knowledge and experiences I gained by going overseas became my starting point for aiming at student exchange.

→List of Off-campus Study Programs

→University support for APU students interested in student Exchange

*1 The quarter system

The APU academic calendar is divided into two semesters, and each semester consists of two quarters (each lasting approximately eight weeks) and an intensive two-month session. Classes held during the quarters are offered twice a week and are completed in two months. This intensive calendar structure ensures positive learning outcomes and encourages students to apply themselves to their studies. Breaks are held between quarters during which time classes are not held. APU offers several intensive study abroad opportunities that students can take advantage of during these quarter breaks.

【 The APU Academic Calendar 】

Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar
Spring Semester Fall Semester
1st Quarter 2nd Quarter Summer Session 1st Quarter 2nd Quarter Winter Session

*2 International & Domestic students

The term international student denotes those students who possess a College Student visa, while the term domestic student refers to Japanese students and also includes non-Japanese students who reside in Japan with a residency status other than College Student.