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Life for foreign exchange students 2003/12/3 05:17
Just wondering how foreign exchange students are treated by the general Japanese population. Is it easy to make friends and have a good time? Is it more difficult b/c of the language barrier? etc.....
by Zefiris  

It's tough, but worth it. 2004/4/24 15:41
It somewhat depends on where you are in Japan. The rural areas, I've heard, have different attitudes than those living in big cities. It also sort of depends on the school you go to.

I was an Exchange Student in Tokyo for a year. The students at my school were very friendly. If I had been less afraid to talk with them, I could have made alot more friends than I did, but I still had a great time. The language barrier was a problem too.

If you're from America, you'll be like a mini-celebraty at your school for the first few weeks. It's kind of annoying, but you can use it to your advantgage to make friends.

I think the thing that determines the quality of your stay the most is your host-family. If your host family is good, you'll have a good time. If they are bad, it could get ugly. Don't be afraid to ask for a switch if you can't handle it anymore, though. I had to switch five months into the program, and the differnce was amazing. My second host family was great, and the last six months with them were the best of my life.
by Seth Bicknell rate this post as useful

I am looking into en Exchange program 2005/12/4 02:10
I am applying for an exchange program with CIEE. If I make it I will be in the suburbs of Tokyo for 10 months. Any advice for me?
I will be in a high school somewhere in the area, but I am graduating this year from my high school. Will that make it awkward?
I am also 6'1, will I be able to find clothes? Will they be expensive?
by Macy Elizabeth rate this post as useful

Notes 2005/12/4 15:36
For the person looking for clothes- I can't say for sure. Taller people might have an easier time than fatter people (me). I wear 2x shirts in US, and I cannot find ANYTHING here that fits, save the biggest pair of work overahuals in special stretch size (3x stretch). I also have huge feet (ie: very wide, 4-6 E in US.) Finding shoes in US is very difficult, it is rather rare to find my size shoes, only like 1 company makes sneakers I can wear (New Balance), but when I needed to find a new pair of sneakers in Japan last month in an emergency, the FIRST PLACE I looked had a pair in my size. Japan's biggest shoe size, 29cm long by 4 E width, fits perfectly on me. 29cm is about 10.5 inches for the metric system challenged. They do not go bigger than that here.

So as for clothes, if you are tall and super skinny all the way up to normal US build, you should be able to find shirts. Pants, too, but the only place I know to find pants in foreigner's sizes is GAP. They have a few Gap stores here, and carry larger/longer sizes. My American professor here is about 6 foot, and he can find jeans at the Gap. Also, Uni Clo is another store which carries bigger sizes, popular with exchange students.

Hope that helps.

P.S.- depending on what region or area you go to school, you will either be a celebrity, an oddity, or almost completely ignored- areas like mine (school in Kobe, near Osaka) see a never ending stream of foreigners all the time, so I don't really stand out as much as I had wanted. I'm nearly ignored here, and no one really makes a big deal about me being foreign and being able to speak/understand Japanese. Occassionally I get complimented and asked where I'm from, that's about it. Even my host family isn't very interested- be sure to ask for a host family with little to no past hosting experience if you want to find someone genuinely interested in you. Some host families have hosted anywhere from 5 to upwards of 13 or more students in the past, the average where I am seems to be 3 or so. I am the 3rd for my family, and they lost interest in me after the first 3 weeks or so. Be careful where you choose- if you want the full Japanese experience, choose a less popular location than Tokyo or Osaka, opt for the country (it is incredibly beautiul there), or a family with maybe only 1 exchange student hosted. 1 is a good idea beacause they have already learned the basics of daily life with a foreigner, cultural misunderstandings are less likely to happen by far.
by Andrew rate this post as useful

Future Exchangee 2006/4/24 07:38
I'm applying for a summer exchange program for 2007. I will stay 4 weeks(June) with a japanese family using the same program, then the person I'm staying with will come here for 4 weeks(July). So I was wondering . . . what is a summer like in Japan?(I won't be going to a school)
by Charlie rate this post as useful

. 2006/4/25 16:50
June is one of the nicest months in Japan as it gets very hot and humid later. Have fun !!
by . rate this post as useful

Its great. So So relaxed 2006/4/25 17:14
Hi. I have spent 1yr in Japan as an exchange student and my feeling was a good one. However I did feel that no one takes you seriously because they know you are there only for a short time. But as for lifestyle then you will enjoy it so much. I was on a full scholarship and lived quite well. Its so relaxed when your there.
Have a good one guys.
by Callan rate this post as useful

Which one? 2006/9/24 05:31
Callan, if you don't mind me asking, which program gave you the full scholarship?
by shinkiaka rate this post as useful

..... 2007/1/7 07:25
charlie,with what program are you going to Japan?
by :) rate this post as useful

help 2008/2/12 11:49
Seth Bicknell or anyone else who has been a exchange student and enjoyed it. what programs did you use?
by Joyce rate this post as useful

Best Experience Ever 2008/2/29 03:15
Hello! I was an exchange student to Japan back in 2003, I was incredibly nervous and scared beyond belief before I went.

Getting on the plane is the hardest part! I won't lie, the first month or so will be the hardest. Your in a new culture and don't know too much. The language and customs are the hardest to get used to.

Hearing Japanese non stop all day, you do get a headache from time to time (I did anyway) and you will be drained by the end of the day. So be prepared to have the best nights sleep of your life!

Customs are easy enough to get used to, you are thrown right into it and all you can do it adapt to it. So depending on how well you adapt to change, adapting may be easy or hard.

After those barriers you will have the time of your life. You meet so many new people and experience so many different things. Life seems to move at 100 miles and hour and its hard to keep up, but your having so much fun you don't care.

I learned a lot after being in Japan, and made me a better person.

Everyone's experience is different so this is just how my experience was when living in Japan :)
by Chris rate this post as useful

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