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Life in Uni

A rough idea of what life in a Japanese university is like.

Academic Calendar

Japan's academic calendar differs greatly from Singapore and many Western nations. Its academic calendar is based off the seasons with the school year starting in April with the bloom of the sakura. Many Japanese universities accept students in both semesters, the Spring semester in April and the Autumn semester in September. 

For when to apply into universities, see:


For how the academic calendar works with Singapore university exchanges, see:


For summer and winter schools in Japan, see:

Academic Calendar-02.png

Image Credits: yoosillyone, annieart0, Diana, Adobewankenobi

Classes in School


Most classes in Japan are done face to face, while online lectures and classes are quite uncommon. Japanese universities typically either conduct classes as lectures or seminars, particularly in English courses.


So you'll typically find yourself bouncing between different rooms on campus, and catching your meal at the university's cafeteria. If you're doing a STEM course, you can probably expect a great deal of lab assignments and experiments too.

Image Credit: Japan Times

Zemi (Seminar)


Experience a unique Japanese-styled seminar, called "Zemi'.


Students are grouped into a cosy number under close supervision from professors over multiple semesters.

Beyond hands-on research and practical experiences, Zemi classes are special in the way bonds are forged between students and professors.

Image Credit: Waseda University

Join a Research Lab

Research Lab

It is quite common for STEM students to join a research lab in your 3rd or 4th year. Professors typically run their own labs in specialised areas, attracting students with similar areas of interest.


There are usually weekly seminars where members share their work and update each other with cutting-edge research.


The lab often becomes a second home for many students who spend their free time there, forming bonds with their fellow lab mates and professor. Tokyo Institute of Technology allows students on exchange to join a lab.

Learn Japanese

Learn Japanese

Image Credit: Gaijin Pot

Japanese classes are great opportunity to meet fellow international students and engage in cultural exchanges.


Be sure to immerse in cultural programmes organised by Japanese Language Departments in the universities.

Campus Life

Waseda Circles

Image Credit: Waseda University

Clubs and Circles, akin to CCAs in Singapore, are the heart and soul of campus life in Japanese universities.


Join the Circles if you're looking for small, casual societies, and the Clubs if you love challenges and competitions.


Whichever you decide to join, you will gain to widen your social circles and experiences.

Living in Japan


Image Credit: Live Japan

Japan is a great place for Singaporeans to live in. Apart from the low-crime rate, Japanese have a favourable impression towards Singapore (although the stereotype is smart and rich).


Even if you are unable to speak Japanese, service staff are typically courteous and helpful, and will try to guide you through their questions with gestures. In general, the gaijin (foreigner) card will also get you through most cultural faux pas.


So live and breathe the culture, as you immerse yourself in a completely different country. There's also a useful Student's Guide to Japan to get you caught up with the do's and don'ts of Japan!



Image Credit: SSAJ

*Cue shameless plug* If you're worried about being in a completely foreign country, never fear because the Singapore Students' Association (Japan), or SSAJ, is here to support you.


We connect you with other Singaporeans studying in Japan and often host events and activities for you to kickback and relax, not to mention practice your rusty Singlish skills.


We also keep you up to date with latest job opportunities, internships, part-time and full-time jobs in Japan and Singapore.



Living and studying in Japan also means enjoying the local scenes.


Join the crowd in a festivity of fireworks, impressive floats and endless rows of food stalls throughout the year.


Soak in the atmosphere in a traditional yukata and experience a deeper side of Japan from the usual holiday trips.

Image Credit: Timeout Japan

Explore Japan

Iya Valley

Image Credit: Japan Guide

Each prefecture boast its own specialties and hidden sightseeing spots to discover.


'Travel into the inaka (a.k.a ulu land) ' for a feel of the untouched nature, sights, tastes and experiences.


Be pampered with aplenty of white-water rafting, hiking and exotic local delicacies like basashi (horse sashimi).

Explore Neighbouring Countries

Jeju Island

Image Credit: The Telegraph

Japan's Northeast Asian locale, combined with great connectivity options via budget airlines, like Peach Airways, means you can explore not just Japan, but nearby South Korea, Taiwan, and Mainland China with ease.


There are many direct flights within 2 hours, that can cost less than $300 for a round-trip to places like Jeju Island or Taipei.


Be spoilt for choices, and you don't have to FOMO your friends in Europe as they travel around. 

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