Things I Wish I Knew Before Studying Abroad in Tokyo: Classes

plroybalStarred Page By plroybal, 16th Jul 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Asia>Japan>Tokyo & Around

#2 in the "Things I Wish I Knew" series. This focuses on the whole reason why you're in Tokyo in the first place: studying.

Study Abroad Year

Going to a new country is exciting and fun, and you want to experience as much as you can in your year there. It can sometimes be difficult to remember that the prime reason you're there is to study! What with the hot weather, day trips and parties, it can be difficult to stay motivated to study. Here are some facts and tips about classes in your exchange university in Tokyo.
This is based mainly from Toyo University in Hakusan. If you go to a different university, your experience may be a little different, and other rules may apply. Use this as a guideline, as most universities are very similar in their teaching.


A very important thing to remember is that attendance affects your grade in Japan - not just for exchange students, but for most schools. At Toyo University, if you miss a third of your classes in the semester, you automatically fail that class. For example, reading class was Friday 2nd period, so if anyone missed 5 of Friday's 2nd periods, they'd fail the reading class (there were 15 per semester). Additionally, we had Integrated Japanese class for one period every day Monday-Friday - so if we missed 25 of those, we failed that class too.
So my advice to you is this - try to go! Even if you're not feeling well, try to make it. It can lower your grade if you miss a lot, and even if you can't concentrate, at least your attendance is helping your grades. If you're very sick and you go to the doctor, sometimes a note from the them explaining your illness can excuse you from your absence. However, this might differ between universities.

Keep Up

Japanese classes are very intense so it can be easy to fall behind. However, recapping and/or preparing for classes can boost your grades significantly. If you recap your class when you get home even for just half an hour, you can gain more understanding from that class, which will avoid last-minute, rushed study before the finals. This especially applies to Kanji - depending on your class level, you'll learn 10 to 40 or 50 new Kanji every week. A semester's worth of Kanji can't be learned the night before the exam, so try to keep up with them and practise whenever possible. Also, it feels great when you're out and about and you find that you can read more on advertisements and newspapers than before - it pays off!

Stay Organised

Buy a folder and keep your homework, quizzes, schedules, Kanji work and everything else in organised folders. At Toyo we were given paper almost every day, and it was easy to lose track of sheets or even homework when they're all shoved into your backpack at the end of the day. Buy plastic wallets and a folder or two and divide it into sections. Sometimes your teachers will ask you to dig out previous worksheets so it's handy to have a section at the front labelled "Homework and worksheets" so you can find them easily when you need to. Also, if your work is organised and clean, you'll feel better about it in general.

Try and Stay Motivated

A lot of the exchange students I was around found it very difficult to get to class every day and stay motivated. It's easy to want to stay absent from class and sleep, or to avoid studying. I can tell you that it's nice at the time, but you really do end up regretting it. The teachers will usually make you catch up with your homework, and you'll end up with more studying to do, which will make you very stressed. I went through it and wouldn't wish it on anyone. Missing the odd day is fine, but when you miss a few days in a row and the teacher slaps a big pile of paper onto your desk, you'll find yourself wishing that you hadn't skipped class for a few extra hours in bed.

Use the spring break to your advantage

The spring break is the longest break of the year, and you'll find yourself with two or three months with no classes at all. I foolishly did no studying all spring break and therefore struggled a lot in the second semester. I'm not saying you should study five hours a day all through the break - but I would suggest a couple of Kanji a week and some vocabulary every week. Flick through your textbook so you can get an idea of what to expect in the second semester. Go through what you struggled with last time, and practise with people you know. Then you'll enter the second semester with confidence, and hopefully enjoy it more than I did!

So that's what I wish I had known before going to Tokyo to study. I didn't know what to expect, and made a few mistakes in my studies. I passed everything, but I could have done better by following the above steps. Try and stay motivated, and remember how much you love Japanese, even if it doesn't feel like it when you're sat in the classroom. Good luck!

Click here for 'Things I Wish I Knew Before Studying in Tokyo: Money'

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author avatar Delicia Powers
17th Jul 2013 (#)

Very good information...

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