How does being a Japanese exchange student work?

Currently, I'm a 13(July 2002) year old male in California and I'm in 8th grade. I was wondering if someone could give me the low down on student exchange programs because I want to be an foreign exchange student for a year during my high school years. My main questions are, what are all the processes I would have to go through and how long would it take to complete them all, how early in advance should I register for it, and what would be the average price for a 1 year program? Would there be any way to know what school I would be going to, or when in Japan I'll be going to? I would rather have a school where there are more females than males or an even amount, but is that in my control at all? What Japanese language background would I have to have, I currently have no experience, but I can start learning soon. Also another thing that worries me is that I heard if you have a certain physical/mental condition you'll be instantly denied, is that true? I have Pectus Excavatum, and pretty much I had a metal bar inserted in my chest 2 months ago and it's going to get removed in three years sometime around November 2018 which is when I'll be around 16 years old. I'm also currently being tested for Marfans Syndrome which I more than likely have, we're just confirming it with further tests at the moment. The thing that worries me about it is that, if I do have Marfans I believe I have to get a check up every 6 months, so would I be instantly denied because of that?


Also, what grade would I transfer in? In USA there's 4 grades, so would I only have to do 3 grades here in the US if I do one year in Japan? Do I have to graduate in the USA? Or would I still have to do all 4 years here and an extra in Japan? How does that whole thing work?

1 Answer

  • 5 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Becoming an exchange student is NOT THAT HARD!

    So here's how it works. First you apply to one of the exchange student organizations that offers a program to Japan (I will cite the links later). Then, you usually have one year to prepare, such as immunization and visa interview, or waiting for your host family/ school placement in Japan.

    Usually, you will not not be able to decide which prefecture/school you want to go. The organization does it for you.

    If you can, start learning Japanese RIGHT NOW! The earlier you learn, the better you understand. That's why people stop learning foreign languages as they get older because their language ability becomes fixed.

    The average cost for one-year program would be somewhere around $12,000. This includes the plane tickets and the visa fee. Host families are volunteers. They do not get paid for having a student. If you cannot afford this, I'm pretty sure there are many scholarship opportunities out there.

    To answer your medical questions, I also have pectus excavatum but had no problem being an exchange student. (I do not have a metal plate though) Not really sure about the Marfans sydrome... you probably should just ask to the organizations.

    Some organizations also offer programs for one semester/ 6 months. If you are worried about your check ups then you could apply to that.

    The grade system depends on how your school consider your exchange student year. If they allow you to transfer the credits you earned in Japan, you can graduate high school at the same time as your classmates. However, let's be honest, you will not be able to get good grades in a Japanese high school, unless you know how to read classical Japanese (which is almost like Chinese), and do algebra and trig without a calculator (yes, we do not use a calculator at school in Japan).

    In Japan the school year starts in April, and there are only three years of high school.

    Hope the information helps!

    Source(s): AFS (based in the US, pretty reliable) YFU (Similar to AFS) Rotary (I'm not really familiar with this one... but I know some friends who did their programs here) I was an exchange student from Japan to the U.S. a couple years ago.
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