Who do I approach if I need help?


  • Whatever difficulties you are facing, be aware that there is always support available
  • These can include dormitory tutors, school student counsellors, anonymous counselling services etc.
  • Please view the full article for a list of resources

Written by: Austin Zeng

Always keep in mind: You are not alone!

One thing that we all know is that living in a foreign country (especially when we don’t speak the language!) is not easy. Daily life, social isolation, academic troubles are all things that many of us experience.

But be aware that there are people who can listen and who can help. Who you approach certainly depends on the topic but these are just some places which you can talk to if you need assistance.

Problems with Japanese language / daily life:

  • Many schools provide one-on-one or other forms of tutoring with a Japanese student. These can be of help when you are studying Japanese or you have to do paperwork in Japanese. Approach your student support office to ask if they have such a system.
  • Similarly, if you are living in a dormitory many have tutors / Residential Advisor systems which you can utlize.
  • The international interaction circles may also often have very helpful people if you need some help.

Problems with academics / scholarship:

  • Ask your student support office if you have any questions about academics or the scholarship.
    • Please remember that problems with administration may cause issues with your graduation and the scholarship so do ask the school administration if you have any issues.

Stress / social isolation / mental health

  • Most, if not all schools will have a student counsellor (or in Japanese 学生相談室 or equivalent) and can be a first line of help if you are dealing with any personal / emotional issues.
    • An experience by someone who has actually approached them:

–  I personally found the gakusei soudanshitsu to be useful, especially with regard to understanding the university credits system. On other occasions, I also visited the gakusei soudanshitsu to clarify some questions pertaining to academic matters and she helped to clear my doubts. They do give advice on everyday life and social issues too so it’s nice to know I have somewhere to turn to when I encounter problems.                        

 (University of Tokyo, Undergraduate Scholar)

  • Tell.jp (NGO) also provides counselling in English, including distance counselling for those outside Tokyo.

Specific problems

  • Stalking / harassment: many universities have special avenues for assisting harassment victims – their Japanese names are often ハラスメント相談室 (harassment sodanshitsu) or ハラスメント相談所 (harassment soudansho).
    • If you are facing such issues, please talk to these places.
    • This has happened before to some scholars and the advice from them is to gather as much evidence about the person as possible. Also, get evidence that you have told the person explicitly to leave you alone – this is necessary for the police to act.
  • Crime: the police does use interpreters so if you are a victim of crime do not hesitate to call them at Tel. phone number 110.
  • General health: most universities have a small in-university clinic (保健所, hokensho) and these are generally cheaper than external clinics / hospitals.
    • Most doctors are able to speak basic English – but do not hesitate to search for English-fluent doctors if you require specific medical attention.
    • Be aware that you will almost definitely be part of the national health insurance system and that you can use this to lower your costs for treatment.

Tell.jp has a wonderful page with lots of resources for various topics – including bullying, culture shock, anxiety etc.

Last but not least …

Chances are if you are facing a problem, a scholar before you has faced the same thing before. Your fellow scholars therefore can really help you based on our own experiences.

Feel free to post on our Facebook group if you want help!

(Image taken from flickr.com (2017/10/25))

These guide articles are meant to be advice based on the experience of current and previous scholars. Given how situations may change depending on the school, region or year etc., we urge any scholars to approach the relevant authorities in your school if you have any doubts or concerns.

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