The decision to study abroad can be a life-altering one. Spending an extended period of time on your own in a foreign country changes your outlook on life and exposes you to things you would never see had you stayed home.
If you have made that decision and are looking for a destination, consider Japan. The research required to learn How to Study Abroad in Japan can be more difficult than other countries, but the experience gained can make you glad you did the extra work.
Choose a Program
Planning how to study abroad in Japan can be a bit more challenging than studying abroad in other places in the world. While many schools offer programs in places like Europe, far fewer offer programs in Japan. Check if your university offers a study abroad program in Japan.
If not, there are many other schools that offer programs that may suit your needs. When looking outside your current school, make sure your credits will transfer back so they will count toward your degree.
Where to Study
Once you have a program selected, you will need to decide where to study. Tokyo has a very large number of colleges and universities, including Keio University, which was ranked as the top school in Japan by 4InternationalCollegesandUniversities.com.
If you're thinking a smaller city may be better for you, Kobe is a nice alternative. Located in the southeast portion of the main island, Kobe is the fifth largest city in Japan and home to more than a dozen universities and, of course, Kobe Beef.
Another issue that can complicate how to study abroad in Japan is the language barrier. But don't give up just because you don't speak Japanese! Immersion learning is a great way to pick up a language and there are schools that feature a lot of coursework in English while teaching Japanese as well.
Kansai Gaidai University, Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies, Akita International University and Seinan Gakuin University are just a few schools that cater to English speaking or international students. These four schools offer coursework ranging from Asian studies and the Japanese Language to Liberal Arts to Theology and Economics.
In any study abroad situation, you'll need to ensure you get all your paperwork finished and in order. This includes all the applications and forms you need to get accepted to whichever school you choose, as well as all of your travel documents.
Different schools have different application requirements so make a checklist that includes completion dates so you can set a timetable. You will most likely have to write an essay and you also may need to rely on teachers and academic advisors to write letters of recommendations for you. Allow plenty of extra time for this because you will be at the mercy of someone else's schedule.
Just because it's a priority for you, doesn't mean it will be a priority for them. The more time you give them to complete the task, the better off you will be.
Once the applications are completed and you've been accepted to the school of your choice, it's time to get all your travel documents in order. Just like a vacation, you're going to need to book flights and get a passport if you don't already have one.
You also will need a student visa. Look into obtaining a student identification and discount card, which will give you another form of photo ID and offers discounts on everything from software to hotels and food. Lastly, obtain medical insurance to cover you while you're studying in Japan.
Staying in touch with friends and family is important when you're in college and even more so while you're studying abroad. Social Media is a great way to post updates and photos from your trip.
But to talk directly to people, one of the best options is to get a Skype account. International phone calls are still very expensive, but Skype is a great way to talk "face-to-face" with friends and relatives for free.
On Line Resume
Another great way to let people know what you're up to and perhaps make yourself more appealing to prospective employers is to blog about your study abroad experience. Jessica Pena, a college student who spent time in Japan, did an excellent job of documenting her preparation and her trip through her Youtube channel. Her efforts got her noticed by study abroad websites and bloggers who talked about how her video blogs "created her own personal brand using the Internet as a platform."