Study abroad programs are an excellent way for students to supplement the educational process with lessons in life. By jetting off to another country to continue the path towards a degree, you will enjoy the opportunity to meet new people and learn about different cultures in a foreign setting. In other words, the experience can open your eyes and expand your mind. However, choosing the right program can be difficult.
So if you’re looking to travel to Japan for longer than the standard vacation and you’d like to continue working towards a degree in the meantime, then you’ll probably want to take a few things into consideration before you secure a student Visa and buy your plane ticket. Here are just a few tips to help you select the Japanese study-abroad program that’s perfect for you.
- Languages spoken. Unless you happen to be fluent in Japanese or you’re studying the language for your degree program, you might want to find a school in which your native language is spoken. Living in a foreign country can be difficult in a number of ways, and the main issue usually involves overcoming the language barrier since communication is, in many ways, essential to human survival in the modern world. But if you arrive for classes only to find out that you have no means of communicating with the teacher, you could throw your whole life into chaos. So this is an important consideration to address before you sign up.
- Cost. Always a consideration, this crucial feature of international travel could make or break the experience for you. Many programs are all-inclusive and offer you the same tuition rates as the institution of learning you are currently enrolled in. But you should definitely ask about costs for extras like food, transportation, lodgings, and so on before you move forward.
- Housing. In some cases a program will house foreign students in dormitories while others will place them with local families. In rare instances you will be expected to secure your own housing. The program you choose will likely determine which route you go, but you should think about what you might get out of each situation. Dorms will provide you with an excellent means of meeting other international students while a family home will give you an in-depth look at the way another culture lives (while offering exposure to information that only the locals have). You simply have to decide which appeals to you more.
- Dates. Not all schools run on the same schedule and you may find that certain programs you’re interested in don’t coincide with the particular semester or quarterly system you’re used to. This could require you to give up more time than you intended (a year instead of a semester, for example) in order to study at a foreign school.
- Courses offered. Okay, so maybe this should be at the top of the list. Whether you’re looking to beef up your graphic design skills or you’re seeking a masters strategic management degree, you need to make sure that any study abroad program you consider offers courses that are commensurate to what you’d get back home. In most cases your college will have “sister” schools around the globe that can accommodate various fields of study with transferrable credits. So start your journey by utilizing the resources your school has to offer. Otherwise you could find yourself in the tenuous position of seeking approvals after the fact.
Sarah Danielson is a freelance writer and part time student. In her spare time she likes to go hiking and help with an animal rescue out of Los Angeles, California.
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