Have you ever wondered what a typical day of an international student in Japan would be like? This article might be able to give you a quick overview of a typical day. A lot of activities are included but they don’t necessarily have to be in one day but they can. I hope you will get a better understanding of the life of a student in Japan.
I usually wake up early at 6:00 AM to start my day early. I like to start my day with some simple exercises, they help me feel more awake and healthy. These exercises are fairly easy to do, just a little bit of warming up to get me started with everything else. If the weather is nice then I might decide to head out and go for a walk. The scenery in Japan is generally always beautiful to look at. There is a small river near where I live so I just follow the river, along with many other locals to enjoy the view. Sometimes, I even take a quick trip biking along the riverside, taking deep breaths and enjoying nature. After the exercises, I just take a hot shower and relax. This is such a great way to start a day and I truly encourage you to try it out and it may change your day entirely! However, during the winter and early spring, when the weather is still freezing cold, sleeping in for another 30 minutes or an hour would still be a great choice for me. Anyway, there is a funny saying that goes ‘running is the worst and if you start your day by running, there will not be anything worse than that and your day will become much better’. Since I live not too far from my university, I can take my time and still make it to class just in time. After I finish my exercises or sleeping in just a little bit more, I start to prepare for breakfast. Most of the time it would just be something quick and simple like toast and eggs or ramen, cup noodles. Because I am trying to save money as much as I can, I choose to cook for myself instead of buying pre-made meals from the convenience store or food from my school cafeteria. After breakfast, I will quickly clean up and prepare to go to school. As a university student, I don’t have to put on a uniform so I would just go with anything that is comfortable, anything light during the summer and anything that keeps me warm during the winter. I live 10 minutes away from my school on foot, but it takes me only 3 or 5 minutes to bike to school. I live in an apartment but it is only a few minutes away comparing to the school dormitory. Of course, there are days that I oversleep or my alarm ‘doesn’t go off’ but because I live pretty close to the school, most of the times I could gather my things and rush to school.
Once I got to school, I will just quickly go to my classes if I don’t see any of my friends and talk to them for almost 30 minutes every time. I usually choose all of my classes back to back so that I can finish them as fast as possible then continue to work on other things. There are two periods in the morning from 9:00 AM to 12:00 AM and then lunch, and after that, there will be three more periods from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM. With each period lasting for one hour and a half, there is a 10-minute break between every period. My morning classes are just two consecutive periods of Japanese, as an international student in Japan, Japanese is a crucial part for every student living in Japan. In these Japanese classes, the students will mostly be focusing on learning new grammar and new vocabulary, with exercise in the textbooks as well as from the teachers. There are tests almost every day to make sure that students learn the new vocabularies and understand the new grammar structures. Most students dislike these daily tests but I think it is an important part that is greatly facilitating the process of learning a new language, especially a difficult one like Japanese. Other than that, there are also other sessions to help the student practice their speaking skills and listening skills. Students will get the chance to listen to real life conversations instead of just listening to the teacher’s instructions. There will also be exchange sessions among the classes where students will go to different classes to practice their speaking skills. And if I remember correctly, there are presentations, posters, speech, etc. that students have to do and I think these are all necessary to help students learn Japanese.
Lunch is usually my favorite part of the day as I get to spend time with my friends and eat the delicious meal that I made. After the whole morning, my food as cooled off but luckily the school provides microwaves at all of it cafeterias so I don’t have to worry too much about it. Since the school is a mixture of both Japanese students and international students, my group of friends shares the same structure. We all have different classes but choose to meet at a designated building on the campus to have lunch. If someone finishes his class early then he would have the honor of securing the seats for all of us as all cafeterias get super crowded during lunch time. From time to time I forget to bring my own lunch so I will have to buy it from the convenience store or the cafeterias or even the restaurants around the area. The school has its own convenience store on campus so us students don’t have to go too far for drinks or food and the prices are fair, or I think so at least. But if I am feeling fancy on that particular day, then I will go for a nutritious meal from the cafeterias or from a restaurant nearby. Apart from that, there also food trucks that offer a lot of other kinds of meals for students to choose from, Vietnamese food, India food, Korean food, Nepali food and so on. I have tried almost all types of food that are available to me in the school and they all tasted really good, the prices are up to only ¥600. But food is not the sole reason why I like lunch time so much. I like lunchtime because, after 3 hours of intensive Japanese study, I want to have a little bit of time to relax and have fun with my friends. My group of friends includes people from the United States, Spain, Korea, Nepali, Sweden, Thai, Indonesia and of course Japan. We would talk about everything that we can think of and have a lot of fun before classes in the afternoon began. With a little less than one hour break for lunch, sometimes I have to eat fast to do the homework that I missed or to prepare for the next class while eating. Skipping lunch is not the optimal thing to do but sometimes it is necessary for keeping your grade from plummeting into oblivion.
Then afternoon classes start at 1:00 PM and end at 6:00 PM but since students choose classes according to their schedule and required credits, most people don’t have to sit in classrooms from 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM every day. Students would usually choose between spreading the classes out evenly or cluster all of them in one day, and I am the second type. I try to fit my classes on one day as much as possible so that I would have much more free time on the other days. Most classes in the afternoon are major-based classes so I would have the chance to actually learn more about the major that I chose. I really like these classes, they are held in a big and comfortable classroom and of course, they are about what I really like to learn more about. And I also really like how the professors always encourage participation from the students even though I rarely speak in front of the whole class because those concepts were fairly new to me. But to me, it is really interesting to be able to listen to the opinions of different students from different countries. Even if their ideas and opinions contradict to mine, I still feel like I can learn something from them.
When I finish my classes I can meet my friends at the student lounge and have a chat with them. We could be talking about what we learning in class, discussing or arguing, some other times my friends would help me practice my Japanese and I would help them practice their English. This is one of the perks of having Japanese friends as we can help each other advance in our study. Other than that, I would just go to the library to study. I really like the library as it provides me with all kinds of books ranging from English to Japanese to help in me in any aspect of my study. Another thing that I really enjoy while studying in the library is that despite the fact that it is an open area, everybody respects each other and keep quiet the whole time they are there studying. My experience with most libraries before would usually be disturbed a little bit by the slight background noises. But people are always aware of the sounds they make during their time in the library. The library offers not only books for study but also books for leisure reading. They are categorized according to the theme as well as the level of difficulties, this is done to help Japanese students who are still beginning to learn English to choose.
Most students will spend their time at night working, studying, or just enjoying their time. Most of my friends choose to work outside of campus. Some of them are working as English teachers, some are translators. Others are working in the izakaya, restaurant, even supermarkets. One of them is working in an English communication cafe. I was lucky to be able to pick up a job from my school, most of the time I will be helping other Japanese students practice their English skills by helping them with their homework if they are struggling. I would also help them with various projects assigned by their teachers. But the most popular thing to do is just talking with them. These talks could be about everything, it could be a topic we decided on or it could be something that they want to talk about or share more. I really enjoy these conversations as they help me learn more about my friends and I also feel like I am really helping them to improve their English skills. I have made a lot of good friends through talking to them every day and we actively talk to each other more and more not just within the duration of each session. My work usually ends at 8:00 PM then I would be stuck in a dilemma between going to eat with my friends and going back home in order to save some money. Most of the time I would just go home but if it is some special day or something special happened to someone during that day, we would go to some restaurant and have fun. We usually have some ramen and just sit there and chat for one or two hours straight. Or some other times we would go to ガスト to have a family meal and just have an enjoyable night together and completely forget about any given homework that I need to do. If I decided to go home, I work just cook and prepare meals for tomorrow. After I finish with my dinner, I clean the dishes and relax for a bit. I will do my homework and then play video games, read a book or just go to sleep early if I am exhausted from the day.
That is a typical day that I had experienced as an international student in Japan. And I hope this article will clarify any question you may have about student life in Japan. If you are looking for more information about Japan or just want to explore then I highly recommend you to check out ‘Guidable’. A lot of information, as well as guides about Japan, are available that would be very helpful to you!