As of 2022, Japan has around 800 universities across its 47 prefectures. According to Statista Research Department in July 2023, the 2022 academic year saw an enrollment rate in universities and junior colleges reaching around 57.6% for males and 58.7% for females. As of 2021, there were around 2.93 million students enrolled in Japanese universities, 242,444 of which were international students.
The majority of international students who come to Japan to study are enrolled in Social Sciences (around 76,301 students). Most international students studying in Japan are found in the Kanto region (around 122,383 students). According to data from the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), the highest number of international students come from China (around 114,244 students).
Arguably, one of the biggest problems of living alone as a college student is tuition fees and living expenses.
The cost of studying in Japan averages around ¥817,000 for national universities and around ¥1,146,819 for private universities, though the number may increase or decrease depending on the student’s lifestyle preferences, major, health insurance, etc. Those looking to enroll in an undergraduate program can see fees of between ¥820,000 to ¥3,200,000 while prospective students for master’s programs can see fees between ¥820,000 to ¥1,100,000.
When it comes to rent, costs vary wildly depending on whether the student chooses to live on campus in a dorm or their own private apartment. The former can cost around ¥12,000 per month for a single room on campus while a private 1-bedroom apartment can cost between ¥57,000 to ¥85,000 excluding utilities.
For those who do choose to live in their own apartment off-campus, utilities average around ¥10,000 – ¥5,000 for electricity; 3,000 for gas, and ¥2,000 for water. Of course, these prices may go up or down depending on whether it’s summer or winter and one’s lifestyle.
Lastly, students can expect to pay around ¥3,000 for textbooks, stationery, etc. along with around ¥6,000 for their cell phone and Wi-Fi.
Students who are looking for budget-friendly accommodations may want to consider Village House, which has properties across all of Japan’s 47 prefectures. Rent for Village House properties can be as low as ¥20,000 per month.
Some students try to supplement their tuition fees and living expenses by getting a part-time job. International students can work up to 28 hours per week and up to 40 hours per week during holidays and extended breaks. Known as arubaito in Japanese, part-time jobs are an effective way of saving up money as well as gaining work experience. As of February 2022, the minimum hourly wage in Tokyo was ¥1,041, which meant that students could earn around ¥12,500 per week if they worked the full 28 hours.
The majority of students who take on part-time jobs usually work in shipping companies, restaurant kitchens, convenience stores, and hotels. International students may teach English part-time as this does not require any knowledge of the Japanese language. A 2023 survey of 1,000 international students saw that 69.9% had one or two part-time jobs.
The obvious benefit of having a part-time job is financial – having that extra bit of income will allow students to pay for their studies, and the necessary materials, and have a bit of a social life where possible. Other benefits of having a part-time job can include improving Japanese language skills if they are an international student and building up a network of friends and connections.
The drawback of having a part-time job while studying full-time is that there is less downtime and free time so partake in hobbies and socialize with friends. Having a part-time job can also hinder a student’s work/life balance causing their studies to suffer.
Depending on how one grew up, household chores may or may not be familiar. That being said, having to bear the responsibility of cleaning and maintaining your own space and home for the first time by yourself can be overwhelming. The key here is to start tackling some of the common household chores at home with the assistance and guidance of parents before one venture out into the world.
Luckily, for those who choose to study in Japan, there are numerous nifty and convenient household cleaning gadgets and tools that can be found in any ¥100 store to make household chores easier, quicker, and without eating up too much of your budget.
Homesickness is defined as “distress caused by being away from home and a longing for the comforts of home and attachment objects.” People who suffer from homesickness can experience depressive and anxious symptoms, difficulty concentrating, and withdrawal behavior.
For college students who opt to live alone, it’s not uncommon to experience some form of homesickness. This can be especially true for international students who are geographically very far from their own families.
It’s important to note that being homesick is common and normal and most people find ways to cope and adapt to this. One way to do so is to keep in touch with those back home – this can be achieved by scheduling frequent video calls or phone calls and staying in touch via emails and text messages. If possible, students can try to arrange to go home once a week or once a month depending on their schedule and situation. Other ways to cope with homesickness are to develop a routine similar to the one you had at home and to utilize the student services and club activities available at your schools.
Being On Your Own
Last but certainly not least, being on your own for the first time can be extremely daunting for college students as there is no immediate support system should you need help or have an emergency to tend to. Again, while there is no one universal way to deal with this, some common solutions can include building your own community of friends and connections while at school, utilizing the student services available on campus, and keeping in touch with your family and friends back home to maintain the support system you already have.
Those who are concerned about being alone when studying away from home may want to consider accommodations on campus but those who want a bit more privacy may want to consider Village House, a rental agency with budget-friendly accommodations starting around ¥20,000. International students will be glad to know that Village House offers customer service support in multiple languages including English, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Portuguese.