International first‐year student’s life in Japan | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
International first‐year student’s life in Japan

International first‐year student’s life in Japan

By Guidable Writers Feb 17, 2016

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified) Japanese Spanish

International first‐year student’s life in Japan


In April, new semester will begin in Japan, however its starting time is different for freshmen from other countries or for international students. Even all the universities in Japan receive their freshmen in April, in the case of international students, the schedule to enroll can be chosen by students themselves either in September or in April.


For a freshman, everything is new and different. You will be so excited and may want to experiment everything and make a lot of new friends, especially Japanese friends. You will look forward to the courses and will want to try everything. As you are new here, you don’t know which will suit you best. It is good to consult your supervisor and seniors that have already taken courses. But how to get touch with seniors before having class? To celebrate the new semester, there are parties and orientations which will offer opportunities to make new acquaintances. Associations, sports clubs and other kinds of students organizations will be very active doing promotions and recruitments. It is easy to get relative information on campus and join in the circle you like.


(Reference: Waseda sai, waseda a university, Tokyo, Japan)

To continue, I am going to talk about my own experience. I have to say, I am quite lucky to have met so many new and nice people here. It has been a semester since I started my study in the graduate school as an international student. My program is in English, and most of my classmates are not Japanese. There are not many occasions for me to talk with Japanese students in campus. As a result, I have made more international students friends than Japanese friends. However, you can find considerable numbers of international activities in campus. Be active and participate in the activities that you are interested in, you can meet new friends who share the common interest and have  lots of fun. I joined an event to help Japanese students to improve their English-speaking skills, where I not only met a group of lovely friends but have also exchanged a lot of ideas with them. I have learned more about this country thanks to them and have been very glad that I could be useful.



When you meet with new friends, don’t be shy, start talking with them. There are a lot of topics that you can talk about as you are from different countries and grow up with varied cultures. Weather is a daily subject they like to begin with. Even though you have the chance to meet new people, it takes time and effort to have Japanese friends. For me, as I just started my learning of Japanese when I started my study here, certainly, there is a language obstacle. Not all the people you meet can speak fluent English and speaking their native language may make them feel more comfortable and closer to make them express themselves more easily. Because they live here and have already got friends since childhood, they may already have plan with friends when you ask them out. So, it is recommended to ask them out with anticipation, then they can have time to adjust their schedule. In addition, it is common to have a part time job after school here. Consequently, students don’t have a lot of spare time as we imagine. Other thing should be taken into consideration, it is not the same in some countries that arriving 30 minutes may show politeness, in Japan, people are punctual. So try not to be late, when you are hanging out with Japanese friends. There are several apps for smart phone that you can check about the bus and trains’ timetable, which help you to make sure about your arrival time.


Another useful app is Line which is the most popular communication app in Japan. I highly recommend you to download it and create your account once you arrive.( It is quite similar to whatsapp, wechat,etc.)


(Reference: LINE Corporation)

Thank you very much for reading this article and hope you find it useful.

Estrella Chen