Your place in the university of your choice is secured, your accommodation has been organized, you’ve bought your plane tickets, and the big day is almost here – you are about to go and study abroad in Japan! You might have been planning this for weeks, months, or even years, and it’s finally happening.
Studying in Japan is a fantastic experience because you get to try a new way of life, meet people from around the world, and study the Japanese language. To help you make the most of what might just be the best time of your life, here are some tips and advice for studying abroad in Japan!
1. Take stuff from your home country
There are a lot of things that you can get in your home country that you now take for granted, but you’ll miss a lot after a few weeks or months without them. This can range from food to cosmetics; check whether your favorite brands of chocolate, deodorant, canned foods, mascara, or cheese are easy to get in Japan. If not, take some with you, because you will miss it when it’s gone.
2. Plan at least one trip home
With your excitement, it may be easy to think that you won’t want to go home the whole time you are away. However, you will see a lot of people get homesick after the initial charm of Japan has worn off. See when the holidays are – for most universities, students get a long break in February – and make sure you have at least one trip home to visit your family and friends, take a break, and stock up on those items and foods you miss.
3. Take plenty of money
You may think this is obvious, but it is surprising how much money it costs to stay in Japan for a while, especially as you won’t be working. See what kind of financial support your university can provide, get a job the summer before you go, and ask family members for help if they can. You will be buying textbooks, exploring Japan, going to parties and clubs, and going shopping a lot during your study abroad, and you don’t want your plans spoiled by a dry bank account.
4. Check whether you need a bank account or not
Speaking of money, ask yourself if you really need a Japanese bank account or not. If you are from a country whose banks provide Visa credit or debit cards, and as long as you tell your bank that you will be in Japan, you don’t really need a Japanese bank account.
Something to know about this, however, is that if you use an international Visa card, you can only take out multiples of 10,000 yen, which means you will have to withdraw large amounts at the same time. Your bank will also add a small charge every time you withdraw money in another country, and you will have to keep an eye on Japan and your country’s currency exchange rates.
On the other hand, opening and closing your bank account in Japan takes a lot of time and you can’t use the Japanese cash card to pay for things, only to withdraw money.
With all of these things in mind then, carefully consider whether you would like to get a Japanese bank account or not.
5. Start a diary, journal, or blog
You will have a lot of experiences during your study abroad, and your family and friends will want to hear all about it. If you enjoy writing, then why not start a diary or an online blog to share your unique experiences and thoughts in real time? It is a great way to record everything you do so you can keep the memories safe forever.
6. Get things you need before you arrive
In the rush of getting everything together before you set off, you might think, “I’ll get that thing I need once I’ve arrived.” With the hustle and bustle of arriving, jet-lagged, to your accommodation, meeting people and unpacking, it will be difficult to track down and go to the nearest supermarket or store to get things you need. Be sure to have everything before you go, such as plug adapters or your favorite pillow, because the last thing you will want to do after you’ve arrived is go shopping.
7. Leave some empty space in your suitcase
If you can manage to leave some space free in your case, be sure to do so. As well as your home country having a lot of things Japan doesn’t, Japan has a lot of things that you will want to take home with you. To avoid having to spend money on sending goodies and gifts home by post, have some room in your case for the candy, figurines, and gifts that you will inevitably buy and collect over your study abroad.
8. Think carefully about your cell phone situation
Your phone from your own country will only work with Wi-Fi in Japan, so it’s likely you will want to get a local phone. Most phone contracts in Japan are two years long, so if you start up a contract there, you will have to pay a high cancellation fee.
One option is to get a cheap pay-as-you-go phone, but if you want an iPhone or something similar, it might be possible to pass it on to another student once you leave and avoid the fees. Be sure to explore your options before you commit to anything, as cell phones in Japan can get very expensive.
With these handy tips, your study abroad in Japan should go a lot more smoothly! Study hard, make lots of friends, and make the most out of a truly great time in a fantastic country.
*Featured Image: JP.Fotolia