International students battle to find transportation

Yuna Matsuura|Courtesy 

My name is Yuna Matsuura. I am a junior and majoring in art. I was in Lakeland University Japan, and I transferred to VWU in Aug. 2023. I would like to say the transportation provided by VWU is not really sufficient. However, I have never felt inconvenienced by transportation when going outside of school so far. I have mainly three options of transportation: (1) asking a friend to take me by their car, (2) using the university’s store run service every Wednesday or (3) using Uber taxis. These are the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The transportation I use most often is having a friend drive me to the grocery store. It was around midterm of my first semester that I made friends who would take me somewhere. Until then, I had been using the store run service provided by the university. I only have one friend who takes me to the grocery store, but since I am not good at speaking English, it is really helpful for me to practice improving my daily conversation skills.

Another disadvantage is that if I go to the grocery store by the university’s store run, I only can go to Target or Walmart. Sometimes I want to go buy items needed for art classes. I cannot get these at Target or Walmart, but I can get them cheaper at Hobby Lobby or Dollar Tree. For international students, it is a little difficult to find these stores by yourself unless you ask a local friend to tell you about them.

On the other hand, I feel sorry for my friends if I ask them to take me out almost every day or week because my friend is also a university student, and I know she has a lot of assignments. Therefore, the store run service is helpful to use without feeling sorry. Also, it takes all international students to the store at a scheduled time: every Wednesday at 7 p.m. 

As I mentioned before, the disadvantage is that they only go to Target and Walmart. In addition, they take all international students in one van, so the ride is not very comfortable when it is crowded. Since we are going in a group, we have a set end time, so we are not able to take our time and look around. I always decide what I want to buy beforehand, and only look at what I need. It may be an advantage to be able to move around efficiently and not have to waste money.

However, I used to go to the store run because I didn’t have classes on Fridays, and last semester, the store run was at 7 p.m. every Thursday. This semester, I have class on Thursday at 9 a.m. and there are many new international students. Therefore, I feel using Uber is the most convenient these days. 

On the other hand, it takes time and money. One time I called Uber on a rainy day and it took 30 minutes. I have not really felt it myself, but my parents who live in Japan think the U.S. Uber taxis are unsafe, and do not want me to use them as much as possible. For this reason, I avoid being alone to ensure safety and go with international students and Japanese friends to share the cost.

In conclusion, each mode of transportation has advantages and disadvantages, but I have not felt any major inconvenience and I am using the current means to the fullest. If I had to make a suggestion, it would be good if there were more variations in days, times and places we can go, in addition to the current store run.

Yuna Matsuura is a junior and Art major. She enjoys drawing on her iPad, spending lunchtime with her friends and using the school sauna. Yuna can be contacted at 

By Yuna Matsuura