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Can you offer some tips for saving money as a foreign exchange student?

All foreign study programs seem to be extremely expensive. I am interested in studying Japanese language by immersion—in fact, the college of my choice (Berea College, Kentucky) says at least one term is almost mandatory. I’ve heard that there is a need for native speakers of English as teachers in Japanese schools, and wonder whether there are “study abroad Japan” programs that allow an American exchange student to work off the costs of studying Japanese by teaching English in Japan. My long term goal would be employment translating from Japanese to English. Are internships ever possible? Are scholarships ever available? I’ve heard that it’s sometimes possible to save money by staying with a host family, but that this can also be dangerous. What kind of people are likely to be interested in hosting a foreign exchange student?

Samantha Barber

in Study Abroad

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Jennifer Patterson on June 21, 2018

The costs of study programs can vary widely. So can the benefits. As a general rule, although there are hosting programs that offer cheap or even free rent for college students studying abroad in Japan, internships are not available. The language barrier is generally perceived as too high. Since you mentioned Berea, however, it’s worth noting that a few of the world’s colleges and universities do succeed in placing native speakers of English in internship programs in Japan. Berea is one of those few. < http://www.kansaigaidai.ac.jp/asp/02_international_programs/02.html >

Ordinarily, exchange students are responsible for their expenses, which are high. Participation in exchange programs is considered evidence of ability to handle money—even if, as is usually true for high school students, the money comes from their parents. Scholarships may or may not cover even ten percent of the international study experience. Additionally, although schools advertise only a few of the programs that exist, independent programs don’t always offer transferable academic course credit.

International students are not obligated to stay with local families. That option, like being accepted as a guest at a monastery, may be offered through the host school or exchange program. While host families are recruited through advertisements offering them extra income for hosting foreign exchange students, they’re usually well screened for any potential serious problems. As in student labor programs, your hosts might not be people you’d choose as friends, but lack of congeniality is normally the worst thing students have to fear. “Homestay horror stories” are rare and almost always involve host families’ inability to protect students from the same dangers that local people have to deal with themselves. Whether students stay in private homes or in dormitories, there will always be some risk of fires, earthquakes, infectious diseases, street crime, or terrorism.

Typically, bad experiences studying abroad involve wallets, passports, mail, inadequate preparation, relationship problems, and miscellaneous misunderstandings. Hosts are motivated to keep that financial compensation, so, if anything, they’re likely to give guests too much or the wrong kind of food, company, and educational enrichment. Genuine confusion about meal payments, and genuine food shortages, are uncommon but more common than hosts really withholding food for which students have paid. Hosts are warned about things like flirting, drinking, religious proselytizing, borrowing, and similar inappropriate behavior; students report hearing variations on “I can’t believe you’re not allowed to...” much more often than actual violations of hosting rules.

Craig Stewarta year ago

Homestays can be so much fun when they work out! My host family in Norway didn’t seem very friendly at first. Eventually I realized that this was because they were having their own family problems. Their way of avoiding nasty private fights in front of the foreign exchange student was to avoid speaking as much as possible. This extended to me. Instead of everybody talking about their day at the dinner table, the way my parents insisted on doing, they would tiptoe through a room without a word. Nevertheless, when I had a chance to talk with them separately, they were nice, and during the second half of the year they settled their quarrel, whatever it was, and began talking more normally. They were still quiet people, though. I learned from them that some people are happiest when they’re quiet. I’ve found this to be true in the U.S. also.

 


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