Study Abroad: What are Japanese Universities Really Like?

Universities in Japan are often more integrated into the community in which they are located than their US counterparts. Often they don't have spacious campuses, and most students live off-campus and commute from other parts of the town or city. Student solidarity often revolves around special-interest clubs or study groups.

The international office at the school you attend will have one or two staff members who can help you find your way around and give you advice and help; but it is well to remember that Japanese universities seldom have the infrastructure of advisors and counselors that American students take for granted. If you attend one of the schools that attracts a large number of foreign students, you will have a ready-made community; at other schools, you may have to develop your own network of fellow students, friends, and campus resources for support.

At most universities in Japan, you'll be able to participate in the life of the city or town you live in as well as that of the university. In a large city, that can be as cosmopolitan as life in any large North American city, but you will still get a sense of traditional neighborhood life centering around your local train or subway station. Living in Japan will be at least half the fun of your study-abroad experience!