AFS Year and Semester High School Abroad in Japan

Video and Photos

Summer Camp
Exploring Kyoto!
Mito High School Class 1-E
The view from the top of the mountain overlooking Fukuoka city with my host sister Akane.
A traditional temple we went to go see with my host family.
A day in Tenjin with one of the other exchange students, Luisa, who I became close friends with.

About

In Japan, ancient gods and centuries-old customs meet cutting-edge modern life and an innovative society. From the ritual tea ceremonies, graceful gardens, and sacred shrines to the world's first high-speed train, Shibuya crossing, and sparkling cityscapes, Japan has a wide range of timeless and timely experiences to explore.

Immerse yourself and develop fluency in Japanese language and culture by living with a host family and studying at a local high school. While culture shock is real, it won't take long before you feel at home with your host family and can navigate your new life with ease. In time, you’ll become a cultural insider.

Although the academics are challenging, and social harmony is a cultural priority, the Japanese aren’t quite the perfectionists they’re made out to be – wabi-sabi, for example, is a zen aesthetic and idea roughly translated as an acceptance of life’s imperfections. Still, Japan is a perfect place to expand your horizons and language skills.

Summer language: This four-week program is designed to provide an intensive Japanese language learning experience through both formal study and first-hand cultural experience through living with a Japanese host family. Throughout the course of the program you will receive 80 hours of Japanese language classes at a professional language school. Food is art in Japan, and your host family will most likely prepare some amazing meals. The Japanese diet consists largely of rice, noodles, fresh vegetables, fruit, meat (mostly pork and chicken) and seafood. Many meals are eaten with chopsticks. The program includes 80 hours of Japanese language classes, host family immersion experience, participation in cultural activities, and travel opportunities to historic and cultural sites. You will attend language class with fellow AFSers from several countries across Europe. Classes will be offered at a professional language school and will have 5-12 students per class.

Highlights
  • Immerse yourself in Japanese language - the best way to become fluent.
  • Live with a host family to deepen your immersion and connection to Japanese culture. If you’re like most AFSers, you won’t want to leave this second family and home.
  • Explore Japan’s stunning landscapes, cityscapes, arts, and more. Savor sushi and umami flavors like ramen.
  • Make connections and memories you'll never forget with other AFS exchange students from all over the world.
  • Become a global citizen. Gain intercultural communication skills. Build your college and career resume. Help create a more peaceful, understanding world.

Scholarships

AFS-USA Scholarships
AFS-USA Grants & Scholarships

The opportunity to study abroad should be available to everyone, regardless of their financial means. Annually, we award scholarships to about half of our study abroad students.

Value
$1,000 - $5,000

Questions & Answers

Current high school students are eligible! Specific age requirements may apply, so we encourage you to please contact AFS (studyabroad@afsusa.org) for more details. Students must also be in good academic standing (recommended GPA of 2.5 or above). Basic Chinese language skills are preferred, but not required. For more information, you can also visit the program page: https://www.afsusa.org/study...

Reviews

9.17 Rating
based on 18 reviews
  • Growth 9.6
  • Support 7.5
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 8.1
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 8 of 18
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Angel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Japan Exchange Review

Hello, my name is Angel Reyes and I was part of the 2016-17 Study Abroad program in Japan and may I say it was absolutely amazing! First off, everything was so carefully planned out and the staff was so nice and caring. All the time I was with them I always felt secure and happy as if I was at home, it was only until I had settled in my japanese parents’ house that it actually hit me that I was in Japan(yes I call them my parents)! Everything was so cool and amazing but there was some things that were kind of off. For example, there would be these reunions with all the AFS people and students and they were cool and all but the activities that were held there were not good. It was kind of boring but it was fun to see everyone! That is actually about it everything else was perfect! If you do read this I want to ask this favor, can you communicate with Mana Hashimoto and the people from San Antonio, Marc Patsnier are the best, nicest, awesomest people ever! Without them, my experience in Japan wouldn’t have happened or been as awesome as it was! Thank you so much!

What would you improve about this program?
Is it possible to make the reunions while abroad a more interactive thing with many different cool activities? Thank you!!
Default avatar
Christine
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best year ever

I had a great year abroad with AFS Japan. I was in the Tokyo-Chuo chapter which gave me an extremely nice host family and placed me in an amazing private school. I was able to travel around Japan with my host family and school. My schoolmates were super kind and I still like to exchange letters with them. This program cemented my love for Japan and I can't wait until I am able to return to Japan.
This was a truly wonderful experience and I strongly believe that this program hugely helped me when it was time to apply for colleges.

Default avatar
Ale
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

AFS Japan

Let me start with this: in the US, AFS was pretty organized in my opinion, they were easy to get a hold of, had meetings for information, and made me overall excited for my study abroad. AFS Japan on the other hand, a whole nother story. Well, I guess it largely depends on what chapter you get put into. I heard the Tokyo and Kyoto chapters were good.
Now that we have that out of the way, let me say that studying in Japan was a great experience. I definitely broadened my horizons, and learned a lot of Japanese, which was expected haha. My host families were perfect, my school amazing, it was just fun. However, the chapter for where I lived, and where my other friends lived, not as great. A big problem that was evident is the lack of freedom and choice AFS Japan gives you, and the obvious favorism towards the host families rather than the actual students. Your liasion is the main branch of communication with afs, however some don’t do their jobs too well. I barely communicated with my liaison at all, and was kind of forced to go to some events that I didn’t want to go to. Just hope that you get a good chapter and a slightly bigger one. There are some events that only the bigger chapters are able to take part in.
Apart from the bad communication between liaisons and their students, life was pretty fun in Japan. Let me give you a big tip though. If you don’t like your chapter, you are able to move to another one! You just have to know the president or liaison of a neighboring chapter and hope they understand what you’re going through.
One last thing, AFS Japan will treat you like a clueless kindergartener instead of a learning teenager. They probably will have set up childish games and parties for you. Have fun.

What would you improve about this program?
Better communication with the host student and liasion is a must. There are too many incidents I know where the liasion just ignored the host students concerns and sides with the host family. Too many incidents where the liaisons straight up dislike their students and say it to their face. Perhaps liaisons need to be younger in order to empathize with the students, instead of being old and close minded.
Default avatar
Rui
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

AFS

I studied abroad for an year as an exchange student. I stayed San Diego, which is amazing place. My host family and school are very nice to stay and study. Also lieson of AFS in my area helped me a lot. This experience was so worth it for me. At highschool, I took subjects which I can't learn in Japan at school, such as film making and dance class. There was a Japanese class in my highschool, so when I had difficulties I was able to ask Japanese teacher. Actually whether this program will succeed or not depends on the area, I think. Because some area of AFS lieson won't help me and I've heard lots of troubles between host families and exchange students. So I recommend this program people who are able to try to fit in different cultures and circumstances.

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Lola
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Memorable Summer in Japan

I was a student living in Fukuoka on the AFS Summer Intensive Language program, and looking back on my month there I can confidently say that it was the best month of my life so far. The support I recieved during the program was phenomenal. The Afs staff and volunteers were all so friendly and approachable and my host family were made up of some of the kindest, most hospitable people I have ever met. I went into the program knowing very little Japanese, as well as not being the most confident, outgoing person ever. I wouldn't say that this program totally allowed me transform me a totally new, extroverted person, but it did teach me to not to be afraid of trying new things and to not be afraid of making mistakes (because you will make them. A LOT of them). Considering I was only there for 5 weeks, I am pleased with how my Japanese progressed, as by the end of the program I was able to pretty solidly hold a basic conversation with a native speaker.

Probably one of the highlights for me on this trip was not only experiencing so many different aspects of Japanese culture, but meeting so many people from around the world. I couldn't tell you how many nationalities were represented on this program as there were so many. It was truly amazing that we were all able to become so close with each other, and as time went on I began to see them less and less as being Italian or French or Australian or Malaysian or American, but as simply being my friends. You WILL meet a lot of nationalities on this program, which I thought was one of the rewarding aspects of it. You not only get to learn about Japanese culture, but you get to learn about everyone else's cultures as well, even your own.

Finally, the biggest piece of advice I have for you is one that you might hear a lot, and it's SAY YES TO EVERYTHING. As cliché as it might sound, it's true. Some of the best times I had was by doing everything I could possibly do, even if at first it didn't sound fun or if I was tired. I made so many memories by doing things such as simply going to the grocery store with my host mom; you never know what you could end up experiencing.

Although I do recognize that studying abroad isn't for everyone, if you are on the fence about going I urge you to do it. Some days will be hard and sometimes you will feel disheartened, sorrowful, or even scared, but that's how you grow. You will learn so much, try so many new things, meet so many new people, eat so many types of new food you thought never existed, and ultimately come away with a greater understanding and a new perspective of the world around you. Although I was only there for a month, AFS definitely changed my life. I hope that it will change yours too.

Default avatar
Sandra
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome Experience

My host family had a total of five kids. I enjoyed the hospitality of my host family when I went to Japan. They had a yoga teacher and they decided to sign me up for a few classes. She spoke English, so asking her questions about how to say something made it a little easier. After getting a close relationship with her, she decided to take me on vacation with her to another island with a few friends of hers. After driving two hours and getting on a boat for half an hour, we arrived at a destination that was just beautiful. When we arrived we got treated to delicious food. We went on the beach very often during the trip which was very fun. Also, we decided to go for a swim at the beach. Additionally, we popped fireworks out on the beach having a great time. We also began to hike up in the mountains and saw a various amount of shooting stars. We were able to get a hold of many stars that night, so we decided to get a blanket and lay down on the floor to find more. It was an experience I will never forget.

Default avatar
Ashley
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Tough but rewarding

I had a difficult semester abroad, like the exchange equivalent of Murphy's law! If I were to simply list all of the negatives it might sound like I'm disparaging the program or scare away people and I don't want to do that. Unfortunately I had a first time host family and I don't think they were prepared for me any more than I was prepared for them. Despite the challenges i came home with new passions and a newfound awareness that there will be things in life that are overwhelming that feel insurmountable but I know I can get through it. May stumble blindly through it but we can't always get through life with perfect grace and dignity!

I recommend AFS. My LP took great care of me and I was able to experience so much and meet amazing people from all over the world. I would happily choose them again

What would you improve about this program?
I wish that my host family was given more information about what to do as a host family. I had read so much about culture to prepare but it seemed like my host family didn't know how to deal with someone of a different culture living with them, not just visiting. I got along great with my host mom after I moved out but we couldn't make it work while I lived there. Later they hosted again and it worked better so I really think they were inadequately prepared
Default avatar
Rya
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

AFS Japan Year Program

We always hear the basics of these programs: I had fun, it was safe, it changed my life, it was amazing. Here's a quick story to give you more insight into the kinds of experiences you can expect, beyond the basic ratings.

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I was sixteen and didn’t know how to find my way home. That might be because I was in Japan, with little knowledge of Japanese, and lesser knowledge of the bus system. So what was I supposed to do when five buses arrived at the station at the same time?

At the sight of the many buses I gathered my wits and walked up to a student wearing my school's uniform.

“This bus. It goes to Sanchu?”

She only stared at me, eventually giving me a slow nod. I wasn't sure she had understood my bad accent, but on the bus I went. I'm not sure what I was doing for ten whole minutes, but when I finally looked out the window I saw beautiful, vast farming fields.

Red Alert: There were no green fields near my house.

I turned my phrasebook to the travel section, walked up to the driver, and said, “I am lost.”

There's a prophecy of all exchange students coming back as independent and enlightened citizens of the world. For the most part, it was true -- but the prophecy was a little off. There I was, in a new country, a foreign student always supposed to be curious and asking questions like it was nobody’s business. And I lived up to my role, constantly bombarding my host family with questions. Just this once, though, I wanted to do something for myself.

That morning I hadn’t wanted to ask my host parents for the name of my bus. I wanted to figure it out on my own. Instead, I ended up on the wrong bus, asking even more questions to get myself back.

My year abroad hadn’t made the mythical independent individual out of me that everyone had talked about. Instead I learned to better gauge how much (in)dependence to use. It turns out it varies from situation to situation, and learning which one to use is what really brings you one step closer towards Enlightened Citizen status.

My time with AFS Japan taught me the value of asking for help. Let's not forget the people that made it all happen: a welcoming host family, supportive school, and an amazing AFS chapter that worked to make sure their students learned.

There were many stories like these in which each of these groups did their best promote my learning. My year abroad was challenging at times, but I had the support I needed to make it through. There were cultural trips, language lessons, and chances to meet up with other students and swap trips with stories. At the same time, none of it was too overbearing. They left you on your own just long enough to get a little lost and learn a lesson or two, before they picked you right back up again.

Go abroad! Go for a year. Get lost on a bus or two, and come back with some cool stories.