When I was looking for a language school in Japan, I wanted to be in a city with a nice environment and have flexibility in my course. Meiji Academy met both of these requirements. Lot’s of language schools require you to stay for around 1-3 months or over a year, but with Meiji Academy you can decide exactly how many weeks you need and can also customise which classes you want to take. They also have a school in Fukuoka, which I found was the perfect city to live and study in without being too overwhelming.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Meiji Academy helped with organising accommodation, being picked up from the airport, and doing events and tours to explore the city and Fukuoka lifestyle. However I had to sort out things like my visa, SIM card, and transportation. They give you advice in these areas but in the end you’ve got to figure it out yourself, which can be a bit confusing in a different language.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I’d say definitely research into what the weather will be like while you’re here. I mostly assumed that since Fukuoka is in South Japan, it would be warm all year around. Boy was I wrong. It got a lot colder in winter than I expected and I’d only brought a few jumpers. Especially if you’re going to be here for a long stay, make sure you prepare for all the seasons!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Classes usually start at either 9:30am or 1:30pm and go for 3 hours unless you have extra classes. Mine were usually in the afternoon so I was able to spend the morning doing whatever I wanted and could go meet friends for lunch later. After classes, Meiji Academy would sometimes have parties to eat Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, Nabe, etc. They would also occasionally have trips on the weekend, which was always really fun. Some of my favourites was going strawberry picking in Itoshima, or riding the boats along the canals of Yanagawa.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was definitely the communication barrier as my Japanese speaking ability was pretty much non-existent when I first arrived. However I decided to jump into the deep end and stay with a host family for my first month. It turned out to be the best decision I could’ve made. They were so friendly and welcoming that I straight away felt at home in Japan. They introduced me to a lot of cultural things I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced and, as a bonus, my Japanese improved so much faster with having to speak it everyday.
This really helped my confidence with speaking and allowed me to use it in real-life situations, like ordering from restaurants or asking for directions. So I’d really recommend this for anyone that’s a bit worried about being able to communicate. Even if your Japanese isn’t very good yet, I found that locals really appreciate you at least trying to say a few words.
How could you have better prepared for your time in Japan?
I would’ve tried to budget my money better. I came to Japan thinking, ”I’ll just see how it goes“ but around a month in I realised how quickly my bank account was being emptied. Everything is so exciting and you want to experience it all, but of course everything costs money.
It’s pretty tricky trying to find a job or part-time work as a foreigner. If your Japanese isn’t at least an N3 level (JLPT) then you’re pretty much stuck with teaching English lessons (if that’s your native language). It’s also not usually paid very well either. So I’d suggest to really make a plan before you arrive to figure out the best way to make your money last.