This is a guest post written by Jennifer from Japan Therapy. I’ve had guest posts before but this is my first collaboration! I wrote an article for her site on Visiting Japan on a Budget while Becoming Fluent in Japanese. Her site and facebook details are below so definitely check her stuff out!
Studying abroad in Japan is a great way to get introduced to the country. Living in another country for a while can be difficult at times, especially if it’s your first time out your home country. A short-term study abroad program is a perfect way to find out if that country is right for you. If you end up loving your experience with the short-term study then you can take a bigger leap with a long-term study abroad program.
Short-term study abroad programs can range from 2 weeks to 3 months. Each program will differ in length depending on the program’s goals for their students. Participating in a short-term study abroad program in Japan will give you a little taste of the country without taking the big step of committing yourself to that country. This is important to experiment with because you never know if you’ll really like the country until you actually live there.
Here’s some advice for those of you considering or going on a short-term study abroad program in Japan.
1. Limit Communication
This may sound harsh at first but please consider. The keyword is “short-term.” You will not be in Japan for long. Why stress yourself out with making a schedule to talk to people from back home and miss out on having a good time in Japan? It may seem selfish but it reality you’ll be saving your relationships back home with family and friends.
Think about this scenario: Let’s say you bring a phone to Japan that can make international calls. You’ll have your family calling you many times throughout your trip. They’ll probably call at inconvenient times, like when you’re out shopping or hanging out with new friends you’ve made. Are you going to stop what you’re doing to answer the calls? You may, and then you’ll have to step away from what’s in front of you to focus on the conversation going on over the phone. Or you may just answer with a quick “hey can we talk later?” Doing that can hurt people’s feelings, and you want to avoid being in that situation.
The solution is limiting communication to texts and chats on some form of messaging application. I find using Facebook messenger and Line are great tools. You’ll still be able to enjoy Japan fully without the drama of answering calls all the time.
2. Leave the Drama at Home
Don’t use studying abroad in Japan as a scapegoat for your problems! If you’re going to Japan to seriously study and experience the culture you need to leave all the drama at home. Before leaving for your trip resolve all the problems you may have with the people in your life. Yes, that means facing your problems head-on. This is the only way you’ll be able to have a great experience in Japan. If you don’t resolve your problems they’ll travel with you to Japan.
Once in Japan the problems you haven’t resolved will surface, making you miserable as they come up. Once you’re miserable your attitude will change along with your opinion of Japan. Ever hear people on YouTube saying how much they hate Japan? Well, they most likely hate Japan because they brought their problems with them. They become negative people, hence their negative opinion about Japan.
3. Keep a Record of Your Experience
No brainer, right? But seriously, take a lot of pictures and even video some of the things you do. Why? You’re going to want tangible memories of your experience to share with the people you love back home and to just reminisce to yourself. Keeping a record of the experience in this form can also help people like parents understand why you wanted to go to Japan in the first place.
I will stress this though: DO NOT let taking pictures and recording videos take you away from experiencing the now! When you’re in Japan, experience Japan. Don’t let yourself get caught up in picture taking and video recording. You don’t want to miss what’s in front of you.
4. Stress to Loved Ones That You’ll be Coming Back
If you come from a traditional family then this piece of advice will help you. I faced a lot of pain trying to explain my reasoning to study in Japan. It just didn’t get through to them in the way I wanted it to. They didn’t understand my wanting to go travel to a different country since they thought everything I needed was at home. Not only that, but they feared the worst in thinking that I would never come home.
If I could travel back in time, I wish I would’ve stressed that I was coming back. It’s a short-term study abroad program for a reason. You’re not there for long and it doesn’t require a visa. Being in Japan without a visa means you can only stay there for 90 days. After the 90 days are up you must go back to your country. Even if you tried to weasel your way into staying longer you couldn’t. In order to even get a visa you need to apply for it in your own country.
I think if I would’ve explained this to my loved ones they wouldn’t have been so tough on me or resentful. Not everyone will have this problem, as times are changing and traveling is becoming a step in life, but this is for people who are having a hard time convincing their parents that this is a good thing.
I hope these bits of advice helps you in your journey to studying abroad in Japan. The advice I gave is strictly for short-term study abroad. I gave this advice through my own experiences.
About Japan Therapy
Hi! My name is Jennifer. I’m live in Louisiana. My interest in Japan started in middle school with anime and manga, but has grown deeper through high school and college with its culture, lifestyle and language. I went on a 5 week study abroad program to Japan with my college. It was a great experience.
Since then, I’ve visited Japan more times with my husband. I’ve found a way to share my experiences, knowledge and love of Japan with my blog, Japan Therapy. My blog first started as therapy for myself since my living situation didn’t allow me to move to Japan, but then it grew into teaching people about all aspects of Japanese culture. My goal is to educate people about Japan and to give people a new perspective on Japan.
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/japantherapynola
Instagram: www.instagram.com/japantherapy #japantherapy