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Is it possible to self-organize a scheme to attend a high school during my gap year?

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Information about myself:
  • Currently 17/18 years old and will be 18/19 when I visit Japan.
  • My ethnic mix is Japanese and British. I do have Japanese citizenship.
  • Have only basic language proficiency. Will be attending a language school during my stay.
  • Will be staying with my Japanese grandparents who are based in Osaka.

Next year I intend to take a gap year in Japan in order to improve my language skills, immerse myself in the beautiful culture and meet many amazingly unique people.
During this year, I would like to attend a Japanese high school. Preferably, I would not be an "official" (not sure if that's the right word) student, but instead be treated similarly to an exchange student. Sadly because I cannot speak strong Japanese, I will have to rely on my mother to organize the specifics in Japan. She is going to talk to the local council when she visits later this year to see if all of this is viable, however her lack of motivation and seriousness to this topic worries me. If I can get some definitive answers, I hope that it can make her more determined to secure me a place. One thing that I should make very clear, is that I do not want to go through an official exchange program company because of a mixture of high prices and the fact that I intend to stay with my own family (unorthodox circumstances).


Hopefully, there is someone who can give some insight into whether or not it is possible to self-organize a similar experience with a local high school. Any other relevant comments are greatly appreciated.
Thank you for reading all of this. Anyone that can help me, I really do appreciate what you have to say and the fact that you have given me your precious time. ありがとう!
 

mdchachi

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Foreign residents do this all the time for elementary school. However this could be tricky for high school since high school is not compulsory in Japan and you need to take a test to get into one, even public ones. Sorry that's the extent of my knowledge on this one...
 
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Not sure what you mean by "high prices" from a program that sponsors you (e.g., Rotary Club). I thought they actually paid the student an allowance to go. Which programs have you investigated, and what do they charge?

I'm equally unsure what you mean by "official student". You're hoping to do what exchange students do all the time, that is, be here for a year or so. What should concern you and the school here is whether you want/need the grades you get here to count for grades back home. I used to work in a HS here, and that was a major concern because some students had to retake a whole year back home upon their return.

Don't know whether you can arrange this yourself. What does your school counselor say? They would be the first person I'd talk to, not a bunch of random anonymous Internet people.
 
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Not sure what you mean by "high prices" from a program that sponsors you (e.g., Rotary Club). I thought they actually paid the student an allowance to go. Which programs have you investigated, and what do they charge?

I'm equally unsure what you mean by "official student". You're hoping to do what exchange students do all the time, that is, be here for a year or so. What should concern you and the school here is whether you want/need the grades you get here to count for grades back home. I used to work in a HS here, and that was a major concern because some students had to retake a whole year back home upon their return.

Don't know whether you can arrange this yourself. What does your school counselor say? They would be the first person I'd talk to, not a bunch of random anonymous Internet people.
Because I will be taking a gap year, this will be after I have finished my time in compulsory (high/secondary school). This is completely separate from my school and it is my full responsibility to organize without their help. Regardless, they do not have ANY knowledge or understanding on Japanese culture or education structure, so would be of no help.
We do however, have gap year advice assemblies/talks etc... In these we have been talked to about companies which offer packaged programs that offer students the option to take a year abroad (this can be doing a variety of things, however I believe there are a few options for studying in Japanese high schools). When you look at the pricing they are EXTREMELY high because you pay for accommodation with a host family (this is the largest expense), high school tuition and other various costs. It is always in the tens of thousands of pounds and will be almost double that in dollars. As I stated above, the expense was merely one of the deterrents. The other is the fact that I will be staying with my grandparents (to significantly lower costs) which will not adhere to these sort of program's guidelines.
The confusion may come from my use of the word "exchange". I cannot partake in any exchange programs because my school has none. The sponsors that you mentioned to interest me, however I probably do not meet their criteria (my grades are very strong though) and they probably wouldn't be lenient with me wanting to stay with family.

My questions is whether or not I can have the "exchange" experience, in which I do not attend all the classes the ordinary students attend. My mother has strong connections in the area and many of my relatives have attended the local high schools in Osaka. I was hoping to see if it was viable that I could secure that sort of experience without having to go through a company.

[EDIT] http://www.ciee.org/gap-year-abroad/japan/ is similar to the experience that I intend to have, so it might help you understand what I am aiming to do.
 
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My guess is that it will be tough, given that you will have already graduated high school back home. I don't think many Japanese boards of education or schools would allow a college-age foreign kid to just sort of lurk around their school. Even if you are earnest in your studies, and make efforts to communicate with the teachers and other students, it would be very unusual. As mentioned above, Japanese high-school is a competitive game, and kids take entrance exams to get into the good schools, so I think it would be unrealistic for a post-graduate foreign 18/19 year old to try to "audit" a Japanese high-school for a year. I understand your Mom's reluctance to pursue this.

Maybe use your gap year as a kind of work-holiday in Japan? You could feasibly get a job in an English conversation school. At any rate, the work-holiday visa would allow you to come to Japan and stay longer than a tourist.
Embassy of Japan in the UK
 
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Sounds like a perfect opportunity to attend a language school!

Why do you want to go to high school after you'll already have graduated?
 
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As already asked, why do this at all? Having worked in a HS here before and in university now, I guarantee that the emotional age of the HS students is about 3-5 years lower than yours. Keep that in mind.
 
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Sounds like a perfect opportunity to attend a language school!

Why do you want to go to high school after you'll already have graduated?
As already asked, why do this at all? Having worked in a HS here before and in university now, I guarantee that the emotional age of the HS students is about 3-5 years lower than yours. Keep that in mind.
"why do you want to go to high school?"

It stems from the fact that I have attended both at the primary school and junior high school levels (due to it being compulsory for an individual with Japanese nationality to attend). I will also be taking a year abroad to study at a Japanese university for my undergraduate degree. Going to high school fits the "set". At the end of the day, the people that I will get to meet is my main focus. I would also see it as a tremendous plus for my language learning due to the frequent contact time with Japanese natives.
I can see where you're both coming from, but I know that my only chance to do this is now. Looking back at this moment will surely be one of my best and most memorable memories.
 
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Next year I intend to take a gap year in Japan in order to improve my language skills, immerse myself in the beautiful culture and meet many amazingly unique people.


May I ask how you've come to experience/gain insight into/know about Japanese culture? (I'm presuming through your family).

Also why high school?
Go to college there instead.

You'll meet amazing people, experience the culture firsthand and at the end get a nice looking degree which qualifies you for a job. So its like getting a good deal which goes with your own plans and life's plans for you (but then again this is pretty subjective and depends entirely on you).

I'm not sure about the procedure, but I think you need to give the EJU for which you need to prepare(quite a lot).

Best place to ask would be at the local embassy (or look at their website), everything is thoroughly explained there.

If none of that works out you could always check to see if any local universities around you have an exchange program, if yes, then that could also be an option for you (so get into a good uni).
 
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I have attended both at the primary school and junior high school levels (due to it being compulsory for an individual with Japanese nationality to attend).
Mandatory in what way for Brits, even those who are only half?
 
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Thanks, Mike. However, I got the impression that the OP was not living here, just planning an extended visit. Maybe I'm wrong, but I find it hard to believe he'd be forced to attend a Japanese school.
 
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Thanks, Mike. However, I got the impression that the OP was not living here, just planning an extended visit. Maybe I'm wrong, but I find it hard to believe he'd be forced to attend a Japanese school.
I probably should have clarified, sorry. When I was younger, I would visit Japan once a year for 1-2 months at a time around Christmas/New Year time. I can't remember the specifics, but if I was in Japan for more than a specific time period (I would guess this around 2-3 weeks, but don't quote me on that) I was legally required to attend a primary or junior high school, respective of age. I have never lived in Japan.
 
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That's very interesting. Required by whom? Being on a vacation hardly qualifies a kid for being a resident, so I am very surprised if it was Japan that said you had to do that.
 
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That's very interesting. Required by whom? Being on a vacation hardly qualifies a kid for being a resident, so I am very surprised if it was Japan that said you had to do that.
As to answer your question. I would have to guess the local council. My age at the time meant that specifics were largely left out by my mother. But, I do remember having to visit the local council (or at least an organisation linked to the council) to declare that I was "living" in Japan. The reason for this was because of the fact that, as stated above, I am a Japanese citizen and I had been staying or was planning to stay for more than a specific time frame. Because of the time when I visited being mainly filled with school/national holidays, I only stayed at schools for no more than 2 weeks each visit. It was without doubt one of my most treasured experiences and I hope to relive that in senior high school.

You've been pretty negative and interrogative with me for some reason Glenski. I may just be reading into it and I really don't like calling people out on forums (especially one with so many positive and helpful individuals). I'm sorry if we have some sort of problem I'm unaware of.
 
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Any more advice from individuals concerning the initial topic is greatly appreciated! Thank you so much for taking the time to look at this thread :giggle:
 

Mike Cash

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Any more advice from individuals concerning the initial topic is greatly appreciated! Thank you so much for taking the time to look at this thread :giggle:
You're coming regardless of whether you can attend high school or not, right? So you'll find out when you get here whether you can arrange this or not. With the exception of bring surrounded by high school tail I can't even begin to see the appeal of spending a year in high school for no credit after you've already graduated. I think your time would be far better spent attending a good language school, working a part-time job, and engaging in cultural activities than spending half your day sitting through classes you've already passed.
 
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I'm interrogative by nature. A Socratic approach, harmless, and nothing more. Sorry if that sounded intrusive and attacking.
My negativity is disbelief and will remain that way until I have evidence which explains something. You've said "I would have to guess the local council" in answer to who forced you to attend Japanese school even on a 2-week vacation.
  • First, you're not sure, which bothers me.
  • Second, I find it hard to believe a person on vacation, someone who lives elsewhere and who holds another nationality, too, is forced to attend school. If that's actually the way it is, I'll accept it.
Are we cool on this now?
 
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I'm interrogative by nature. A Socratic approach, harmless, and nothing more. Sorry if that sounded intrusive and attacking.
My negativity is disbelief and will remain that way until I have evidence which explains something. You've said "I would have to guess the local council" in answer to who forced you to attend Japanese school even on a 2-week vacation.
  • First, you're not sure, which bothers me.
  • Second, I find it hard to believe a person on vacation, someone who lives elsewhere and who holds another nationality, too, is forced to attend school. If that's actually the way it is, I'll accept it.
Are we cool on this now?
Yeah we're cool :inlove: Don't worry, it was never anything against you. I was just getting slightly frustrated with having to continue explaining things in further details due to your "disbelief".
Regarding the lower school education, I did attend every time I visited. I have seen pictures of me in the local kindergarten, however I'd assume that was my mother's doing. At the end of the day, the link between me having to declare myself as "living" in Japan may not be linked to me attending school, however it's the only link I can see. I also clearly remember my mum telling me that I had to legally attend (for the reasons stated above). If you don't believe me, it's fine. I've got nothing really to prove, but I still think it's useful in the fact that it adds more context to the original question.
If you're interested about my unique experience, I can give you more insight. Primary school was incredibly fun and I was able to join in with most of the activities that other students did. Junior high was when I started struggling. The language barrier became an increasingly prominent problem and I was only part of a few classes (+ sports clubs). The year that I was supposed to be a third year, the school decided that it would be best for me to stay with the second years due to upcoming examinations. That was the last year that I visited Japan, and sadly it was the one I disliked the most because I felt disconnected from the lifelong friends I had grown up with (who were then in the year above). I did visit last summer on a solo trip. That time I was not required to attend a state school, but I did attend a language school called ARC Academy.
 
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From further discussion with my mother, it has been decided that I will definitely be attending a Japanese language school (YMCA) and we will see if a stay in a high school is possible. Every piece of feedback I've received put things into perspective and grounded my plans. If I can attend a high school, I will cease that opportunity. But, thanks to your advice, I no longer see it as a huge necessity. There are a lot of beautiful things about Japan and I'm excited to experience them.

Thanks for the continued support!
 

mdchachi

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From further discussion with my mother, it has been decided that I will definitely be attending a Japanese language school (YMCA) and we will see if a stay in a high school is possible. Every piece of feedback I've received put things into perspective and grounded my plans. If I can attend a high school, I will cease that opportunity. But, thanks to your advice, I no longer see it as a huge necessity. There are a lot of beautiful things about Japan and I'm excited to experience them.

Thanks for the continued support!
This sounds like a good plan. Especially since a high school experience would probably be like your middle school experience, frustrating and maybe not so fun with younger peers you don't know. I think the language school plus some part-time work would get you a lot of exposure to various memorable experiences. If the clothing store idea doesn't work out you could probably be a bartender at an English pub for example. (Not sure if there are age limits?) Maybe even be a "host" in a host club like another poster was trying to do. (Not sure if you'd want to tell your mother about that one though. haha.) Or something related to tourism. And of course there's always English teaching related possibilities.
 
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Do NOT try to be a host at your age! BAD idea!
At 18/19, you are not going to be taken seriously as an English teacher except (IMO) by the most disreputable employers.
I don't know the minimum age for people to work in izakayas, and my own college students do, but if you have "only basic language proficiency", I'd say you won't get hired anywhere.
 

mdchachi

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but if you have "only basic language proficiency", I'd say you won't get hired anywhere.
I have a feeling he's exaggerating his lack of Japanese skills. Anybody who has spent several years going to Japanese schools for short periods all the way up until middle school is clearly conversant. If not right now, he'll be back up to speed very quickly.
 
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I have a feeling he's exaggerating his lack of Japanese skills. Anybody who has spent several years going to Japanese schools for short periods all the way up until middle school is clearly conversant. If not right now, he'll be back up to speed very quickly.
Yeah, I'd agree to an extent. I can understand a large portion of Japanese and am able to have reasonable discourse with my relatives and friends. When I say basic Japanese proficiency, it is probably different to that of a foreigner trying to learn a language. My problem is that I am 1. out of practice: I never practiced outside of Japan, hence have lost a large proportion of vocabulary 2. struggle to form coherent sentences: this is largely due to the fact that I was not taught the "formal" rules of forming sentences, my relatives often describe my speaking as "baby Japanese" :smuggrin:
 
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Just my two cents here, I think you've got a good thing going, if you feel that you're going off track, I think you should try to reach out to a relative/friend who's in college (or better yet just walk into your local uni) and have a chat. I'm sure they were at this transitional phase of your life and could tell you about all the options you have.

Who knows, things might fall even further into perspective by doing so.
 
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