The first step in studying abroad in Japan is to find a college that offers you the ability to study abroad. You should always check with your home college whether it offers study abroad, some may offer it but not have an office for it. For instance my college offers study abroad (although not to Japan) through the business office, not a separate office for study abroad. If your college does not offer it to you the best resource to find colleges that do offer study abroad is www.studyabroad.com. This site will tell you what cities in Japan you can choose, what college offers it and for what time period (fall, spring, one academic year, summer).

I will be studying abroad at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan through the SUNY at Albany study abroad program, so most of my information and advice will be given from that point of view. I found this program on my own, to be honest I don’t really remember exactly how I found out about it because it was a long time ago, I just recently applied for the Fall 2007 semester because I finally got around to applying.

After you have found what college offers a study abroad program to the city you want you should then think about when you want to go. Do you want to go for the full academic year? Just a Fall or Spring semester? Just for the Summer? I chose to go only for my Fall semester of my senior year because I wanted to finish my four year degree in the US just in case anything were to happen, but circumstances may be different for you and the decision is yours. I would reccomend that you go as soon in your academic career as possible, to find out whether you want to have other semesters in Japan or if it isn’t right for you. Also, if you don’t think you could handle a full semester in a different country I would suggest going for a Summer or Winter semester (if available) to get the feel of how a full semester or academic year would feel.

After you have selected what college you will go through and when you want to go, the next step is actually applying. Go to the website of the college (the study abroad office’s website if it has one) and look at the directions for the application process. It is also a good idea to call the college to see if they offer any advice and they can answer any questions you have as well. Take note of the deadline to make sure you can finish and send the application in time. Most times the application can be downloaded from their website (either .pdf or .doc format). Fill out the necessary information and mail it to the institution as soon as possible, most colleges appreciate and take notice of applications that arrive early.

In my case, my application was a two-step process; SUNY at Albany had to accept me into their study abroad program, then they sent my application as a reccomendation for acceptance to Kansai Gaidai.

Don’t worry if you don’t hear back very soon, sometimes it takes quite a while for them to review and respond to applications. If you don’t hear back from the college two weeks after the deadline don’t be afraid to call them to inquire as to the progress of your application.

After you receive your acceptance packet there are several things that you should do next, and that will be detailed in my next post.

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