Why I Chose to Study Japanese

by | Jan 9, 2024 | Languages and Cultures, Undergraduate | 0 comments

Hi there! I’m Raphael, a final-year Japanese Studies student at UoM. I’m so happy to be studying in Manchester as this university was my first choice, and both the city and university have definitely lived up to my expectations. When narrowing down my final choices, UoM had it all: an intensive but flexible course, a lively and endearing city, and a fantastic choice of partner universities for the year abroad (more on that later).  

If you’re thinking of studying Japanese at UoM, it’s totally fine if you’re still a beginner! Previous knowledge of Hiragana and Katakana is highly recommended, but outside of that, there will be plenty of students who are just starting out, so there’s no need to worry about cramming endless amounts of Kanji into your head before your first class – although that would probably help. The course is challenging and fast-paced, so good organisation skills are a must. Self-study is also crucial and you’ll learn a ton from just going through vocabulary and grammar in your own time. Surprisingly, the grammar classes were probably my favourite! While I find vocab and pronunciation quite easy, grammar is undoubtedly my weak point. Thankfully, our lecturer has a talent for breaking things down into simple explanations without sacrificing depth. Mr. Bunt’s classes are usually the most entertaining also, so I’d highly recommend taking those whenever you can. 

The university has some incredible resources for studying such as multiple huge libraries (one of which is 24 hours), and there’s a Japanese Society as well. Japanese Studies is also relatively flexible, as you can still study units from other SALC courses such as Film, Theology or East Asian Studies in addition to your language modules. 

One of the most valuable assets UoM provides is their range of partner universities in Japan. When you go abroad in your third year, you may be overwhelmed by the number of choices. Manchester is partnered with Tokyo universities like Waseda, Rikkyo, Keio and much more. If you want to be in the Kansai area, your choices include Osaka University, Kobe University, Doshisha University in Kyoto, or Kwansei Gakuin. Kwansei was my university, and overall I really can’t say enough good things. The campus and surrounding area is stunningly beautiful and honestly kind of surreal to experience. Also, you should live in Kobe, because that’s where I lived and it’s the best. 

While in Japan, you will probably find that your language abilities will improve fairly rapidly due to immersion – however, I must stress that those who excel the most are the ones willing to step outside of their comfort zone and really apply themselves to unravelling the intricacies of this complex, but wonderful language. This goes for the entire course in general – not just the year abroad. 

When picking your final university choices, I would highly recommend seeking out a wide variety of experiences from alumni and current students – both good and bad. Every university has its strengths and weaknesses, but if you choose to come to Manchester, I’m confident that you’ll have an experience you won’t forget. Even after I graduate, I won’t be leaving this city anytime soon. 

Written by Raphael Bagley, a final year BA Japanese Studies student