Study Abroad in Japan - Are the classes difficult

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

Why study abroad in Japan? Studying abroad is much more than having an international education! Learn about reasons why study abroad in Japan is right for you. Here at 'Go studying Abroad' we provide you with hints, tips and advice to allow you to make the most out of your international exchange programme in Japan.

Today's topic we will explore 'what are study Abroad classes like in Japan', and if they are difficult for international exchange students studying abroad in Japan

What are Study Abroad Classes like in Japan?

When it comes to Studying Abroad in Japan, what you need to understand before going forward is that the Universities are either “National, Public or Private”. For example, The University of Tokyo is a public University. Whereas 'Sophia University' and 'Keio University' are private.

Next, the Academic year in Japan begins in April and ends the following March. Therefore, if you are undergoing an international exchange programme in Japan as an exchange student, you will most likely be joining in the second semester if you arrive in September or October.

Interestingly, After talking to my friends in Japan whilst on my international exchange, they said that the academic year begins in April to align with the seasons, and considering April is the month at which the cherry blossom “come alive” (Click if you wish to read more about the sakura season in Japan) the schools therefore follow the motions of the earth, which is actually kind of beautiful and I think the UK should do this!

HINT: On the flip side for exchange students in Japan starting in September, the problem is that considering most of the societies, clubs and activities get promoted during 'freshers week' your 'freshers week' begins half way through the year, so unless you actively seek out clubs when you arrive, you may only be informed about them in April.

Okay, so now you are clear with the term times, you may now be curious as to what the classes are like as an exchange student, and if they are difficult.

Personally, I found the classes easy during my international exchange, I am not saying that to brag, or sound smart, I genuinely thought the University structure and method of teaching was considerably less challenging compared to the UK, many of international friends I met out there also agreed.

You may be thinking WHY?

and WHAT was so easy?

  1. The reason why I believed the classes were easy, was due to the structure and method of assessments and timetables. What I mean by that, is that the classes were equivalent to seminars that you may get at your host University, i.e very interactive, encouraged student participation, and everyone was sat in a classroom setting with a teacher at the front and everyone sat at desks (Not a lecture hall).

  2. Also, the homework tasks were very research based, rather than analytical. For example, a homework task from one of my geography classes, was to research (google) information concerning the history of language trees. Such examples are many, and if anyone wishes to find out what other homework takes we got asked to do, contact me!

  3. It wasn’t only the homework that I found easy, it was also the assessments, for example for my Psychology class 80% of our overall grade derived from our weekly MCQ we did every other Friday! Considering I was at a private University, which was well known and had a great reputation, I was surprised that the 80 % of our grade came from ticking boxes!

  4. Furthermore, in other classes, being present (turning up) affected your grade! For example in Japanese class, if I missed class 3 times, it would mean I could fail the year! (Language class was very strict). Whereas other classes, such as political leadership, attended made up 20% of our overall grade! I thought the concept was ludicrous, as in, the UK, the attitude is different, whereby the rationale is “if you do not turn up, it’s your loss, not ours” whereas in Japan it appears to be the opposite! Basing our assumption, that students go to University “to learn” , in Japan it seems like students either do not want to be there and that is why they create such system. Or, the “no shows” rule in Japan is a method to help prepare students for Japanese corporate life. Where lateness and tardiness will not only cost you a few percentage deductions on a test, but could cost you your job!

I think this is very understandable, considering the “Japanese salary-man” lifestyle not only emphasises working overtime, but also punctuality.

Overall, if you are considering Japan or Tokyo for your international exchange year (Year Abroad) , just make sure you are punctual, like MCQS and enjoy class discussion (not necessary). If so you’ll have a great time, I can assure you, you will feel like you’re on a holiday abroad rather than a study abroad (well I did anyway).

If anyone else has studied in Japan and wish to share their experiences, let me know in the comments, it would be great to connect.

Or if you wish to share this with a friend, go ahead, it is a great nugget of information I would have never of realised before experiencing it for myself!

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