(Photo credit: Columbia College)

(Photo credit: Columbia College)

Its that time of the year again that we all dread, the start of a new school year. But going back to school doesn’t have to be so bad, it also brings you the opportunity to study abroad! It goes without saying that if you’re interested in Japanese culture and learning the language then studying abroad will be a great experience.

Whether you’re in high school or college the best way to go abroad is to ask your school if they have any partnerships/connections to exchange programs, high schools, or universities in Japan. Those will be the easiest programs to apply to and be accepted in. This also ensures that you will receive academic credit for the time you spend abroad.

If your high school or university does not have any partnerships with programs in Japan, then fear not. It is completely possible to find one yourself. To make the search easier, I’ll list a few of them here.

For College Students:

Semester/Year-Long Study:

  • Temple University Japan Campus (TUJ) offers study abroad in Tokyo for a semester, summer, or full academic year
  • IES Abroad offers programs in Nagoya and Chiba (the IES Tokyo Program is close to Tokyo in Chiba). I did the IES Tokyo program for my study abroad two years ago and had an awesome experience but that’s a story for another time. The Nagoya program is more intensive since you are directly enrolled at Nanzan University.
  • CIEE is similar to IES in that it enrolls you in classes at Sophia University, located in Tokyo. They offer semester, year-long, and summer study.

If you know you’re unable to study abroad during the year (you may have a very demanding major, or it’s too expensive), you should consider study abroad for next summer. Applications for the most competitive programs (e.g. CLS) are released in the Fall.

Summer Study:

  • Critical Language Scholarship Program (CLS) – This is a fully funded program for undergraduate and graduate students with US citizenship. This is THE BEST DEAL you can get for a summer abroad program. If excepted, all costs are covered for you (including airfare) and you receive the equivalence to a year of college level study so your skills should greatly improve in just one summer. However, this also means that it is extremely competitive so make sure to put a lot of effort into preparing your application.
  • Inter-University Center (IUC) – Japanese language programs by IUC are self described as being designed for people who want to gain Japanese proficiency to use in a career. Run by Stanford University, it is also very competitive.
  • Princeton in Ishikawa (PII)- Like, IUC, this program is meant to improve your Japanese to a more advanced level with intensive courses that are equivalent to a year of study. It is located in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture.
  • Hokkaido International Foundation – Located in Hakodate, Hokkaido, the HIF summer program offers intensive study with opportunities to connect with the community of Hakodate as an added bonus.

Not in College yet? There are opportunities for high school students to study abroad in Japan as well.

For High School Students:

Temple and CIEE, mentioned above both have programs for high school students. Temple’s Program is Strictly for the summer; whereas CIEE has academic year and summer programs.

There are a number of other organizations that offer semester, year long, and summer programs such as:

Once again, these are all options to explore if your school does not already have connections to a Japanese study abroad program.  Going abroad was such fun, enriching experience for me that I encourage anyone who is interested to do it. Many programs offer scholarships so if you are concerned about costs definitely ask about financial aid when you apply. If you are not accepted into one of the more competitive programs like CLS or PII, don’t get discouraged just try again the following year.

drawing the air on a whiteboard

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