How to Study Abroad in Japan

Written by sonicsuns

Topics: Everything, Tips

Here’s my general guide for applying to study abroad in Japan. Things may work different for you than for me; I don’t really know.
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/Here’s what you need to do:
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Read TheManInJapan.net

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/Oh, wait. You’re already doing that. =)
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Get a passport

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/I got mine several years ago when my family took a vacation in Europe.
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Talk to whoever is in charge of this stuff at your school

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/For me that was Eric Kulke at Carthage College. Talk to this person as soon as possible; it can take 6 months or more to set up a study abroad venture.
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Get your vaccines.

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/There’s a good chance you don’t need any vaccines, because you already got them all when you were in grade school. But make sure anyway. Check the CDC website to see what you need and check with your doctor to see if you have it already or not. (Note: My doctor didn’t have records of my vaccines, so she started injecting me. She didn’t bother to mention that the reason she didn’t have records was that she’s not the same doctor I had in grade school, and it would have been illegal for me not to get those vaccines at that age. So I wound up getting unnecessary re-vaccinations.)
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/If you do need vaccines, it can take like 6 months to do them (because some vaccines need multiple shots, spaced out).
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Pick a program.

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/Carthage had (and still has) an ongoing student exchange program with Gakugei University, so that was pretty simple. But there were other options I could’ve taken. I have friends who went to other schools; one of them enrolled in a summer program and stayed with a native family (that’s called “homestay”). There are all sorts of options, find one for you. One thing to consider is college credit. This may be harder than you think, because one class in Japan doesn’t necessarily equate to one class back home. Sometimes you need class-by-class approval.
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Fill out all the forms and send them in before the deadline.

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/I had to contend with A4 paper madness and swine flu, but I still managed. When it came time to submit the forms to Japan, I sent it by priority mail and I faxed them (cost: $1 per page, for like 20 pages) and I scanned the forms and emailed copies, just to be sure.
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/By the way, there was also a weird problem in the beginning where every week I would ask Kulke if the blank forms had arrived yet, and he kept saying no. Eventually we both called Gakugei and found that the forms had been sent weeks ago and apparently they got lost somehow. So they sent new ones, and by this point the deadline was nearing. Eek.
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Wait.

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/For some reason it took them like 3 months to decide if I was approved or not. (But that was expected; they said from the beginning it would take alot of time.)
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Get your Certificate of Eligibility

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/This is something that the school sends you. It’s a document that basically says “someone in Japan vouches for this guy”, and it speeds up the visa process a lot.
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Get your visa.

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/I had to send the Certificate of Eligibility, plus my passport, plus some other forms, to the Japanese Consulate in Chicago. They sent back the passport with the visa stamped inside.
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Buy a plane ticket.

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/I mean, unless you plan on swimming.
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Make 2 copies of everything.

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/All the forms, your passport, your flight reservation, your ticket, your Certificate of Eligibility (before you lose it to the visa people), everything, have a couple photocopies of these. Then put these two sets of copies in two different bags, so you’re covered no matter what. You probably won’t need this stuff, but it’s good to have. And don’t forget to bring the originals, of course (like, ya know, your passport.)
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Have fun.

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/=)

  • DMT

    If there is one thing everyone MUST read who goes to this site, it is definitely this.

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