So, I’m planning on going on an exchange to Japan next year, to improve my language skills and just learn more about the culture in general, and was wondering if you all have some recommendations for good (high school)exchange programs or just general exchange advice.
If you’re given a variety of options in terms of cities, think about what you want out of the exchange, plus what kind of experiences you’re open to.
If you choose a larger city like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, you’ll potentially have access to more of the conveniences your used to, plus a more diverse ethnic group. Big cities can be overwhelming for some people however. Commute times can be long. Plus, immersion will be lower - for better or worse. More people will be able to speak English.
Smaller cities, towns, the inaka will have fewer amenities, but potentially amazing nature hikes and unique local culture. Chances are you’ll be one of the few, if not only foreigners. This does mean you’ll have to learn to communicate in order to get by and make friends in the school. Smaller towns also can be set in their ways - often conservative, so you have to be able to adapt. There are things you’ll be able to ‘get away with’ - we call it the gaijin card - but you have to figure out what boats you can rock and how much.
A far as finding a program, I might suggest that you see if your city has a sister city in Japan all ready, as they may already have a program set up. Or could point you to more resources. Your local university might have an exchange program, and while you can’t use that just yet, they may have suggestions too.
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