I had to separate this into two posts so that I don't have a massively long one and bore you all to death.
Just a reminder: I'm not in Japan anymore! I came back to Canada in January.
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Q1. What academic requirements do I have to have?
This depends on the company you chose. Greenheart Travel has a requirement of a GPA of 3 but that's a system rarely used in Canada so I'm not quite sure what it actually means. My school told me it should equal to at least a C student, so as long as you're not failing school, it's fine.
Q2. How old do I have to be?
This depends on your company again but I've seen from 13 to 18. A lot of companies think that 19 would be too old to be in a high school exchange program but they usually have gap year options.
Q3. How much pocket money do I need?
I had about 300$ per month. This might sound like a lot to some but if you think about it, you have to pay for transportation (train, bus, etc.) to school everyday (unless you walk or take the train), food which is irresistible. You have to base it on your own spending habits and add a little more to that to go out and have fun with your friends.
Q4. Can my parents visit while you are on exchange?
My company didn't allow my parents to visit and they had a limit of two calls (skype or telephone) max every month. My mom was really mad about this since she doesn't understand why they did that. The reason is to help you overcome homesickness since the more you talk to your friends and parents back home, you get more sad.
Q5. How were you supported in Japan?
I had a counselor who worked for the company who met with me every month to talk about any problems I encountered. If there was anything uncomfortable (host family, host school, etc.), she's the person I should go to. She was fluent in English so it was easy to talk with her.
Q6. Do I need to be fluent in the language? How fluent are you?
I think it's a good idea to know some of the language to survive better and to make the lives of people around easier too. In case of emergency, it's always better to speak in Japanese for people around to understand and react faster. It will make your life much easier too.
I had six years of Japanese school training before deciding to go to the country. I'm Chinese originally so I could read the kanjis pretty well and I was lucky enough to have Japanese friends to practice with so I got around easily.
Please go to the next post for part2!
If you have any questions I didn't cover, please comment down below or...