Throughout its ancient history Osaka has always been a political and economic center of Japan. Today, as the country’s second largest metropolitan area, Osaka continues to be a city of utmost significance for the Land of the Rising Sun. Though largely devastated during World War II, Osaka has rebuilt to once again become a Japanese cultural, culinary, and industrial capital. Less internationally connected than Tokyo, studying abroad in Osaka provides students with a distinctly Japanese experience, which will open their mind to the uniquely thriving culture of one of the globe’s most storied civilizations.
Subjects & Courses
Osaka is host to a large number of Japanese universities as well as study-abroad extension programs which are readily accessible to foreign students. Prestigious schools, such as Osaka University, host a modest number of international students, but classes are primarily taught in Japanese. Students interested in learning Japanese through study abroad in Osaka, should challenge themselves by enrolling in a local university. Those not as familiar with the Japanese language, however, may want to search for a program which connects to a partner institution or international school where courses are taught in English. Study abroad programs in Osaka will often incorporate Japanese language study into the academic curriculum regardless.
Students can study a wide variety of subjects in Osaka. Obviously it is a great place to learn about Japanese culture and history, as well as expand language skills. But beyond this, students who are interested in specific fields, such as engineering, international business, and applied sciences, will find no shortage of world-class academic opportunity in Osaka. Japan is known for its cutting edge technology industry, and Osaka University has been home to quite a few famed scientists and Nobel laureates. The city is also a rich cultural center of Japan, making studying entertainment and performance arts in Osaka a rewarding experience for adventurous individuals who want to be exposed to Japanese tradition in these fields.
Japan’s semester system is a bit offset from most Western universities, meaning that semesters typically run from April to September and October to March. This can cause a bit of a tricky situation for students on the semester system, so be sure to consult with your home university and foreign study-abroad program about the best way to reconcile the scheduling differences. Many study abroad opportunities in Osaka will offer some sort of cultural immersion or intensive language program at the beginning to compensate for semester differences.
Life in Osaka
Osaka is a huge and lively city which is sure to bring about awe for students studying abroad in Japan. Developing largely in isolation until the 20th century, the country has a long history of autonomous cultural development which to this day continues to march on to the beat of its own drum. Westerners may be pleasantly surprised by the ethic of politeness, respect, and honor, which generally influences Japanese hospitality too. This is not to say that friendliness won’t be accompanied by a healthy dose of culture shock though. Japanese tastes and customs can vary strongly from Western societies, so take your time settling in and getting to know your new home while studying in Osaka.
But also be adventurous. Osaka is one of the largest cities in the world and offers study abroad students an infinitely deep well of culturally immersive opportunities to take advantage of. It is home to a number of wonderful museums, theaters, temples, and public parks. There is an upbeat nightlife, plentiful shopping, and a renowned aquarium and zoo. Oh yeah, and the Universal Studios in Osaka just opened a Harry Potter Land.
Costs & Affordability
Japan is a fairly expensive country to live in, so individuals who choose to study in Osaka should be forewarned. Prices for most commodities in Osaka will be on par (and often exceed) those of Western countries. Still it is very much possible to lead a thrifty lifestyle while studying abroad in Osaka, if you are mindful of your wallet.
Transportation in Osaka is incredibly convenient and effective, while also moderately priced. You can get just about anywhere in the city with the metro system, and for that matter just about anywhere in the country with Japan’s intricately connected railway system. Make sure to take advantage of this opportunity to see other parts of the country while you are studying abroad in Osaka.
Accommodation & Visas
Depending the study abroad program, international students who study in Osaka typically have the option of choosing between dormitory-style living, apartments, or home stays. If you are studying in Osaka at a larger university, living in a dormitory can be a great way to immerse yourself in student life and bond with the local student population. Likewise, homestays are a nice way to become intimate with Japanese familial culture, if you are studying abroad in Osaka through a program at a smaller school. Apartment living is a good option for leading an independent lifestyle. It is all a matter of preference.
You will likely need to obtain a student visa if you are planning to study abroad in Osaka for longer than 90 days. The visa application is fairly simple and your program or host university will likely help guide you through the process. For more information on the specific visa policy for your home country, consult GoAbroad’s Japanese Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Osaka presents study abroad students with the opportunity to ingrain themselves in a distinctly Japanese city away from the spotlight of Tokyo. Furthermore, Osaka places students far from residing complacently in the shadow of the nation’s capital. Osaka is a massive commercial metropolis on its own, with nearly 20 million inhabitants. Studying in Osaka presents students with a unique blend of historical richness, industrial strength, and cultural inventiveness, making it a premier destination to study abroad and a great location to experience authentic Japanese culture.