Life was tough for Yanan Shen at his undergraduate alma mater, located between Shanghai and Nanking in China's Chang Zhou area.

For one, he had to get up every morning at 6 for group calisthenics, whatever the weather. Then there were the professors, who would holler at anyone snoozing in the classroom. And the ubiquitous urban smog clogging his lungs.

After coming to Japan to continue his studies in 1997, though, 28-year-old Shen has found his own place in the sun -- in the middle of greater Tokyo. At Asia University in Musashino City, where he studies accounting, he says the air is cleaner, the teachers are more laid back, and . . . ah . . . the facilities.