10 things Japanese students need to know about the UK

Photograph of a Japanese student

Roughly 6,500 Japanese students choose to study in the UK every year and if you are considering it you are probably wondering what it is like here. These are 10 things that surprised Japanese students about the UK.

1) British university fees are higher than Japanese ones.

The recent rise in British tuition fees is no joke, especially for international students. Japanese tuition fees are lower than British ones, which is a serious thing to consider. That said, if you’re determined to come to the UK to study but are still looking to keep your expenses down, there are loads of student-friendly cities.

2) The workload isn’t as demanding as it is in the USA.

You may think that British universities are very similar to American ones but this is not true. UK universities don’t have nearly as many quizzes or homework assignments as American ones do, and your participation does not count for a portion of your grade.

3) You won’t have many classes, but they’ll still take up a lot of your time.

Japanese universities can have up to ten classes per week; British ones can have as few as two. However, having fewer classes doesn’t mean that you will have less work. A lot of your learning will take place outside of the classroom during your own time, and you will have to be very self-motivated to get it all done in time. If you need help, ask for it – otherwise your tutor won’t realise that you are struggling.

4) You don’t need to worry about writing essays in English.

Writing essays in another language can be intimidating but do not worry, your university will help you. Ask your Student Services office where you can find the academic writing centre; it can help you write British-style essay.

British lecturers often ask that your essay be a certain number of words. Being asked to write 2,000 words may seem like a lot but it is only four pages so don’t get intimidated. Even if you are not very confident in your English, you have passed your IELT, which means you have the skills you need to write your essay.

5) It’s best to travel around the UK in the summer.

The winters in the UK are cold, dark, and wet – not the best weather for sightseeing! Plan to do your travelling during the warm, sunny summer months. The UK has loads of beautiful places that you’ll want to visit, but they’re a lot nicer when it isn’t pouring rain.

6) British restaurants too expensive to eat at every day.

In Japan, restaurants are so cheap that it’s common to eat lots of meals there. In Britain, however, most meals are home-cooked. This is because British restaurants are expensive and most people cannot afford to eat the majority of their meals there. It’s far cheaper to buy groceries and cook your meals yourself. If you’re not much of a chef, try these student-friendly recipes.

7) Don’t carry a lot of cash.

Although it is common to carry large amounts of cash in Japan, in the UK, this is considered dangerous. If your wallet gets lost or stolen, you will have no way of recovering it. It is better to carry a small amout of cash – about £40 should be enough – and a debit or credit card.

8) There aren’t very many Japanese supermarkets in the UK.

There are not very many shops that specifically sell Japanese foods, especially if you do not live in a big city. A good alternative is to shop in a Chinese or “Oriental” stores as these often carry Japanese and Korean products as well as Chinese ones.

9) If a Brit invites you out for a drink, they aren’t inviting you out to dinner, too.

A British pub is different from an izakaya. Although both are great places to grab a drink with friends and co-workers, British pubs do not always serve food. Some only have little snacks; others serve actual meals. A meal is not guaranteed at a pub, however – and more importantly, if someone invites you to a pub for a drink, they are only inviting you out for a drink. Do not expect a meal, too.

10) Restaurants, supermarkets and pubs close earlier in the UK.

It can be hard to find a meal late at night. In the UK, most supermarkets close by 8:00pm, although you can find some 24 hour ones in cities. Restaurants mostly take their last order at 10:00pm or 11:00pm. Pubs are often open until midnight, but the kitchens will close around 10:00pm or 11:00pm, which means you will be able to order drinks but not food. If you like to stay up all night, be sure to have some snacks in your fridge.

Not the country you’re looking for? We also have guides for students from China, France, Sierra Leone, South Korea and the USA.