Osaka University has lots to offer when it comes to extracurricular activities. Most activities are categorized as circles (サークル) or club (部活). Though it differs from circle to circle and club to club, the level of intensity varies. Also, since Osaka University is divided into three campuses, circles and clubs are based in different campuses. Starting with circles, they are very diverse. Most circles meet once or twice a week and range from all kinds of interests like cultural activities, sports, arts, organizing events, and community services. Circles aren’t so strict about attendance and are more about meeting people with similar interests so you can participate in activities that you are passionate about. Also, circles are often made up of students from all over the Kansai region (mostly university students from Osaka, Hyogo, and Kyoto). Many circles participate in the school festivals like 待兼祭 (Machikane festival) and 銀杏祭 (Icho Festival); there, they perform, sell food, and promote their circle’s activities. Circles are a fantastic way to meet new people and to try out various interests. On the other hand, clubs are stricter when it comes to attendance. As opposed to circles, most clubs are approved by Osaka University’s board and the members represent the university. A majority of clubs are sports and most similar to what other universities consider their varsity teams. These teams represent Osaka University and take part in tournaments and competitions around Japan. All teams belong to the Athletic Council (体育会) and have privileges like access to the gymnasium, pool, track, and weight training room. Practices also vary with the team; for example, the American Football team (アメリカンフットボール部) practices five times a week while others practice three times a week. Many graduates of clubs often come support and coach many of these teams as well; for some, this is an opportunity to build some connections. Other clubs besides sports also exist too. Music, art, cultural, and academic clubs are also very popular. Most are serious about their activities and are very eager to perform their craft at various events. For those who want to be seriously involved in what they’re passionate about, then clubs are definitely for you. Clubs may consume more time, however, in most cases they are more organized and are often sponsored. It is an amazing way to fully immerse in the college experience. Clubs and circles each have their own merits. Of course, they have much to offer all students. International students are always welcome in the clubs and circles. It is definitely a great way to meet new people, try new things, improve Japanese, and enjoy what college life has to offer. For circles, it is relatively easy to join any time throughout the year. Clubs often have tighter schedules regarding practice and events, so it might be easier to join in April with regular Japanese students. That said, all the clubs and circles are approachable so don’t hesitate to contact them (even if you feel that your Japanese is inadequate, some Japanese students are quite fluent in English
( 2nd year student, Ping-Kuan Chen )

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