5 Reasons Why Studying in Japan is My Best Decision Ever

5 Reasons Why Studying in Japan is My Best Decision Ever

Studying in Japan is the one thing I'll never regret. If you're considering Japan for a student exchange program or further studies, I'm telling you - go.

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Fall 2012, against the west-ward currents of my friends who flocked to Europe for their undergraduate studies, I flew solo to Tokyo. And, I have never looked back ever since.

Here are 6 reasons why I think studying in Japan is my best decision ever, and why you too should consider the Land of Rising Sun as your higher education or exchange programme destination!

1. Japan lets you experience the best of both worlds

Image Credit: Douglas Sprott

Living in Japan means subjecting yourself to a constant state of dichotomy in your surroundings. For a starter, this country best known for its superior technological prowess and robotic innovation is on the ground still heavily reliant on hard copies, fax machines and snail mails for communication and formal exchanges. The characterless, suited-up businessman zooming across business districts in Tokyo is contradicted by the graceful apprentice geisha (maiko) donned in traditional Japanese kimono practising tea ceremony in Kyoto.

Also Read: Bizarre Vending Machines in Japan – the Ayes and the Nays

Japan is cosmopolitan but conservative, global but local, new but old. The country is as tremendously fascinating as it is incomprehensible. This peculiar trait however makes it especially gratifying to live in Japan. You learn something new and interesting – and oftentimes bizarre – about the country every day that contests your earlier presumptions about it. You get to experience the best of both worlds, and there’s nowhere else to understand the eccentricities than in the country itself.

2. Japan is where you can really make international friends

Everyone I know leaves home with a determination to forge international friendships with people from all over the world, but many a times, I witness my friends slipping back into a comfortable and secure social circle filled mainly with Singaporeans.

In Japan, however, the Singapore student community while strong and close-knit tends to be rather small. The circumstance forces you to really practise your social skills and mingle with schoolmates from different parts of the globe, no excuses! It makes for a fantastic opportunity to truly immerse in a study abroad experience that is legitimately global. I for one have friends from Germany, Taiwan, Korea, China, America, Italy, Israel, Pakistan, Mexico, every ASEAN country, and the list continues. The backgrounds and stories of these people never fail to impress and inspire me, and it’s always an immense pleasure to share our Singapore culture with them in return!

3. Japanese food is to-die-for

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No matter how long you’ve been in Japan – or even if you’re a native – there is always an exotic local cuisine or a twist to a ramen that you have yet to try. The brave culinary experimenter will be spoilt with peculiar dishes like raw horse meat and puffer fish fugu, which literally is to-die-for. While these are acquired tastes, you can still revel in infinite safe and delicious food options in Japan.

On top of the usual sushi, tempura, ramen, yakitori, soba and okonomiyaki, there is a whole array of unfamiliar but equally exquisite Japanese cuisines such as monjyayaki, tsukemen, abura soba and so on. From Michelin-starred restaurants in five-star hotels to hole in the wall establishments in dim alleyways, tasty food is everywhere and available at all price ranges. Word has it that even the food from the convenience store is awesome (I concur).

4. Japan offers plenty of unique travel experiences

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I lived in Shinjuku where my school is located in, but life is not always neon lights, jostling crowds, congested trains and towering skyscrapers. Within an hour out of the metropolitan city centre I have access to theme parks, beaches, and hot-springs for quick weekend relaxations. Further away, there are quaint towns to discover, temples to visit, new foods to try, islands to explore, forests and mountains to trek, sunflower and lavender fields to cam-whore in, and the list goes on and on and on. Plus, Japan’s seasonal landscape is stunning, which makes every trip a unique one. Cherry blossom and picnic in spring, festivals, yukata and firework displays in summer, hiking and maple leaves in autumn, snow festival, skiing and light illuminations in winter – there’s always something different to see and to do in different seasons, in places not far away from wherever you are in Japan.

Oh yes, and the convenience of public transport in Japan and its punctuality – amaaazing. Also, Japan is really safe so it’s very suitable for solo trips!

5. Living expenses in Japan are not as costly as you think it is

Think Tokyo is the most expensive city to reside in? Try living in the UK and think again.

I got the shock of my life upon arriving in London/Oxford and realising that boy, LIFE IS EXPENSIVE HERE. I thought I had it bad enough in Tokyo, but recalling how I survived, I remember that there were always cheap alternatives: DAISO and other equivalent 100yen shops with prevalence that is hard to ignore, generous lunch/student discounts, free upsizing of rice and noodles (so two people can share), “family restaurants” (which are franchise joints selling cheap Western food) and convenience stores. Prices of perishable foods and bentos in supermarkets also start to drop to as low as 50% after 9pm. Supermarkets also love to give discounts on random occasions such as when commemorating the arrival of a new manager. Strange, but great!

Also Read: How to Travel Tokyo on a Budget in 2015

6. BONUS: Japan is the place where you master a new language

Image Credit: Candida.Performa

What really makes Japan enticing is also the chance to master a new language. Remember that time you said you wanted to learn a new language? This is it. Placing yourself in a country that speaks a foreign language is definitely the most effective and quickest way to learn. You’ll be surprised at how fast you pick up words and expressions just because you live in an environment where you’re exposed to the language all the time! Yes it might be frightening just throwing yourself into an environment completely foreign, but doing so will help you comprehend the embedded culture in Japanese society at a more meaningful and deeper level for sure.

Also Read: 16 Things Japan Does Better Than Your Country

So if you happen to be thinking of furthering your studies in Japan, there really shouldn’t be any reason or excuse to hold you back!

About Author

Lee Shu Shien

Shu Shien is a nature lover who would trek far and wide in search of the most breathtaking sunflower fields, river gorges, caves and beaches Mother Earth has to offer. With her trusty Minolta and preference for printout maps over Google Maps, she travels for chance encounters and to seek the Great Perhaps.


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