During the course of your high school program in Tokyo, you may sometimes feel that you are exploring an entirely different planet. In the world’s largest city life moves fast, language can be a difficult barrier to cross, and cultural differences are embedded in most aspects of everyday life. Yet it is precisely these phenomena that should excite you to embark on a high school program in Tokyo; by challenging yourself thusly, you will expand your comfort zone and reach new personal potential in one of the world’s truly great cities.
High School Programs in Tokyo
Many high school programs in Tokyo take the form of traditional Study Abroad programs. For a summer, semester, or even full year, you can partake in an exchange program or otherwise where you learn at an international high school in Tokyo. This is a great opportunity to study alongside local peers and other foreign exchange students from all over the world, and earn either high school or college academic credit while at it.
Language Immersion is often an important aspect of these study abroad programs. You can usually chose to enroll solely in Japanese language courses, or else combine these studies with other English-taught courses in fields such as history, math, science, and the arts. Japanese is a difficult language to learn, but one that can pay off big time down the road if you undertake the commitment early.
Cultural Exploration programs are also a very popular form of high school program in Tokyo. These typically last between two and six weeks and may even feature the opportunity to travel to other worthwhile destinations throughout the Japanese isles. Cultural immersion programs do not typically offer academic credit, and instead will give you the opportunity to learn about the local way of life through outings, activities, volunteer work, and more.
Life in Tokyo
Tokyo may be a truly massive city, but it is astonishingly well-kept and spacious at the same time. Nearly 40 million Japanese citizens live in the Tokyo metropolitan area making it by far the most populated city on earth. From the sweeping public parks to the stunning ancient monuments to the highly modern downtown districts, Tokyo boasts an incredibly broad and diverse cityscape that would take a lifetime to explore fully.
While you may not have time to seek out every nook and cranny of the city’s complex infrastructure during the duration of your high school program in Tokyo, you will still have the opportunity to get a strong feel for what life in this global mega-city is like. The Japanese culture places a strong emphasis on honor, hospitality, and respect, making Tokyo an exceedingly pleasant place to visit even while you are still figuring out the cultural norms.
All of Japan is very efficiently connected by metro and railway systems, so transportation will be a breeze during the course of your high school program in Tokyo. In fact, the local trains are globally infamous for being accurate down to the second in their arrival and departure times. You’ll never have to worry about being late to class!
Costs & Affordability
Tokyo is one of the more expensive cities in the world. The local currency is the Japanese Yen, which runs at around 120 to $1 US. While everyday costs will not be cheap, often high school programs in Tokyo will help provide housing and meals for you on a daily basis. If the cost of the upfront program fees are a concern, be sure to check out our Scholarships Directory and fundraising page for ideas of how to cover the costs of your trip!
Accommodation & Visas
Usually high school students in Tokyo have the option to live in either a homestay or dormitory alongside peers. Whichever way you go, be mindful that accommodations in Tokyo (and indeed throughout all of Japan) are generally less spacious because of the high population density. You will be amazed at how comfortable you will still be though!
Whether or not you will need to apply for a visa depends on your country of origin and the duration of your high school program in Tokyo. Most often international students are allowed to stay in the country for up to 90 days before they will need to apply for a visa; you can check out our Japanese Embassy Directory for more information regarding your situation.
Benefits & Challenges
Cultural Autonomy. Few industrialized countries have managed to withstand the wave of globalization while holding on to their own cultural autonomy as well as Japan. In art, media, music, and elsewhere Japan is a persistent innovator.
Rich History. As an island country, Japan thrived in isolation throughout much of its recorded history. If you are intrigued by tales of ninjas, samurai, and shoguns, then you will be in nirvana exploring this great nation’s past.
Language Barriers. A major challenge of adapting to life in Tokyo will be the gap in communication with those that don’t speak English. By making the effort to interact and learn as much Japanese as possible, however, you might be surprised by how easy communication becomes.