I learn Japanese as an extra alongside my degree at university, if you're a student and fancy learning the language yourself it might be work checking if your university offers language options either as part of your degree or as an extra.
At the time of writing, i've just completed my first year of Japanese. As I take it as an extra, the amount we learn is relatively low compared to what a student doing a pure Japanese degree might learn. At the end of the first year, we are expected to be proficient at reading and writing hiragana and katakana - the two phonetic alphabets. We also know how to introduce ourselves, buy stuff, talk about plans, dates, times and basic verbs and adjectives. Kanji is only introduced in year 2.
The point of this new category is for me to share little things that are perhaps not obvious or could be helpful to those who are learning Japanese. I'm not going to perform a lesson-by-lesson summary of what i've learned, if you want that then take a class yourself!
For those that are curious, the course textbook is Japanese for Busy People 1 (Kana Version). It does a good job of explaining things and is quite effective. For next year's kanji lessons, we also use Basic Kanji Book: Volume 1. I've taken this out from the library over the summer to get a bit of a head start and like our main text book this book is also very effective. It starts by giving a brief overview of Kanji and how exactly they are formed and used. For each Kanji that you learn from the book, it shows you the proper stoke order, on/kun readings and also examples of how this kanji is used in combination with others. If you're going to be teaching yourself, i'd recommend getting these two books. Neither will help you with reading or writing hiragana or katakana but there are plenty of resources online that can help - this is one thing you will really need to master, don't start kanji until you've mastered hiragana and katakana! If you're taking a taught course, it's probably best to buy whatever book your teacher recommends.
Good luck to all of those who are currently studying Japanese, it can be quite difficult and confusing at times but keep at it.