Japan is a thriving economy with exceptionally high standards of living. These standards have been influenced by political, social, cultural, and economic factors. These factors contributed to the development of a strong economy. Therefore, it should not surprise you if I tell you that it has some of the most robust educational systems in the whole world. With many of its universities among top tier universities across the globe, the world knows that higher education in Japan is worth all the money spent.
But, studying in Japan can be a challenging proposition because of its many prevalent socio-cultural and economic reasons. However, this is true for every other country so there is no need to overstate the challenges a student might face here. These challenges can be effectively overcome if you come prepared. This article might serve as a good preliminary start for anyone who wishes to undertake Japanese higher education in the future.
Here are 6 things you must keep in mind before studying in Japan
- Linguistic barriers
The vernacular language in Japanese society is Nihongo. Moreover, Nihongo is a layered language, with variations depending on who you are addressing, where you are addressing, what you are addressing, and whatnot. What makes conversations difficult is the fact that locals do not speak English. While you may find locals speaking in English, they may not necessarily be proficient. Also, most of the courses in Japanese universities are taught in Nihongo so make sure you have researched adequately before applying to any course. It is recommended that you take up Japanese classes before moving to Japan.
- Manners are extremely important
If there is one thing the Japanese are known for, then that is their mannerisms. I could not stress enough to tell you how much you must mind your manners. People coming from the West usually have a very casual approach during conversations; however, the Japanese behave and talk keeping in mind a variety of things. Things we often take for granted are taken very seriously here. For example, you must not eat while walking or speak on mobile phone on trains. Learn the bow while you are there. The quintessential Japanese bow has many variations too depending on factors such as social authority.
- Punctuality is a virtue
Countries treat punctuality differently. For example, Thailand is relatively relaxed about timings and its people always presume a buffer period of 5-10 minutes. This is, however, not the case in Japan. If you decide to study here, then you must very seriously adhere to the timeline of education. From attending the classes on time to the submission of papers, you must develop your routine and stick with it. Here in Japan, punctuality is a virtue and is often used as a standard for evaluating one’s personality.
- Housing can be expensive
Property rates in Japan are hefty and can be really burdensome on students who are not living on campuses. For example, renting a place would require you to pay a minimum of two-month deposit as well as a tip for the landlord. Of course, there are places where you can avoid these but you must look for them well before you move. Also, to save money, you should live with a host family or find a flatmate.
- Get a bicycle
There is no denying the super-fast and punctual transportation network of Japan, whether it is rail, road, or air. However, a mainstay of Japanese transportation system is actually bicycles. You can save a ton of money if you travel on a bicycle for shorter distances. You can purchase a new bike or find a second hand one. It is important to note that you have to register your bicycle in Japan, and there are traffic rules you must follow.
- Studying in smaller cities saves money
Japan is not uniformly expensive. Tokyo is, as you should know, among the most expensive cities in the world. Living in Tokyo can be a challenging experience especially if you are not on a scholarship. However, if you move to smaller cities such as Hokkaido, then you may be able to save a chunk of money. There are plenty of good universities outside Tokyo, which is often the main target city of international applicants. Look for these options as well.
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