One thing that has been a bit jarring for me since coming here has been the Japanese class system. There are quite a few differences and these differences make quite a big impact on how school life will be.
The first difference, and probably a more minor difference, is the grading system. In the US, grades are assigned from F to A, with F being the lowest and A being the highest. Sometimes, a university will have a plus or minus between grades that actually affect the GPA of 4.0. In Japan, the system is also a 4.0 system but the grades themselves have a minor difference. Instead of A being the highest grade, S is the highest grade. For those of you who have played Japanese games, the S rank probably sounds familiar to you.
The second, and more significant difference, concerns how grades are determined. In the US, it is usually up to the professor whether or not attendance is mandatory. Some professors that want their classes to have more engagement will make it mandatory for students to attend. Those who do not are punished. However, there are some professors who are not so strict on attendance. Such professors will usually only require attendance during midterms or finals. By comparison, Japanese universities, or at least from what I know, systemically mandate attendance. My university has a 3 strikes policy. If a student is absent 3 times, they fail the class. This changes the approach to classes. Students are required to be in class rather than self-study on their own terms.
Finally, classes have designated periods. Classes in the US feel more random in their times than classes here. Classes here feel like high school in the sense that they have sequential periods throughout the day. As a result, students spend more time in school than they would in the US.
Here is a picture of my school’s mascot!