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The Japanese Speaking Community
Exchange Year 
15th-Nov-2016 02:16 am
Hi, so I'm going to apply to be a university exchange student to Japan (it'd start autumn 2017 if I get in). By the time I go I'll have finished the 2 Genki books and half or all of Tobira at least, meaning I'll have taken 3 semesters at university and will also have whatever extra self-study I can cram in. Requirements for study abroad are only 2 semesters of Japanese studies.

The possible exchange schools (=sister/partner schools) are:
1. Miyagi University of Education (Sendai — this is the one I want to go to)
2. Kansai Gaidai University (Hirakata)
3. Kanda University of International Studies (Chiba)

It won't be with a host family, my wife will be coming with, I'm almost blind and I'll be trying to find a part-time job (my wife, ideally a full-time). You can work part-time on a student VISA & I assume you can work on a "living with family/spouse" VISA which my wife would be on. Yes we're allowed to work while studying, the school doesn't restrict our "outside of school" activities/hobbies in any way. My plan so far is once I'm there, to join some local clubs ASAP so I can make some friends. We've never been to Japan before.

My questions are, does anyone here know about those schools? (I went to Miyagi Uni's youtube but it had like nothing on it.) Is there something in particular I should make sure to really train myself on before going, should I start using a particular book/resource? Will dialects be a real problem in any of those places, and if so, is there dialect practice somewhere? (Ex. manga in dialect would be perfect.)

Can foreigners without work experience/degrees/perfect Japanese even find jobs? On that last bit I keep finding conflicting info. (Also, more advice/info is welcomed but I've lived in 2 foreign countries before so I don't need advice like "when you don't know the language it's difficult".)
15th-Nov-2016 05:52 am (UTC)
i work in the student mobility in my university, and usually to be an exchange student, your university has to have a "Memorandum of Agreement" with the university you want to apply to. So you have to ask your university which universities in Japan do they have or are in partner with.

If not, international students usually accepted are only for masteral programs and doctoral. If you are still an undergraduate you have to apply in their program as a regular student and not as an exchange (usually)

Schools sometimes require (in japan) usually a pre-language program like 1 year of learning japanese before taking the classes. But if you've taken the JLPT you might go straight to taking the regular classes.

Finding a job depends on your (course and ability to speak japanese) or/and the companies needs. Work visa is applied for.
15th-Nov-2016 12:02 pm (UTC)
Erm, yeah, that's the list of potential schools up there. Partner schools. I guess it wasn't clear, I'll edit my post!

There's no JLPT offered here (Sweden) but the requirements are at least 1 year of university Japanese studies so I'll still have covered that part. Don't worry about the requirements, as my uni's website has info about it.

On a student permit you can still work part-time, and I figured on a "living with family/spouse" permit you can also work without needing a different VISA, but if it comes to that my wife can apply for a work VISA. But I'd be interested in knowing "how much" Japanese you need to find work.
15th-Nov-2016 09:28 am (UTC)
I'm afraid I don't know much about any of the universities. I have a few friends that go/went to Kansai, but have never discussed it in depth with them. Hirakata is a lovely city though (with a super fun theme park if you're into theme parks at all).

Dialects are rarely a problem. Most people know what is and isn't standard Japanese, and so if you don't understand, they can rephrase. I know there are a number of books that teach Kansai-dialect, but the less common ones probably don't have the resources. Your school, however, will insist on you using standard Japanese, so not studying beforehand won't hinder that at all. I find that it's easiest to just pick up things from conversations as you go. That way it's a lot easier to understand how it's used--textbooks like to use weird situations and conversations that would never actually occur in life.

What type of visa would your wife be coming over on? I don't know anything about spousal visas, so you'd have to find out to be able to know what kind of work she can do. With no degree, she can't get a working visa unless she has an in-demand skill (such as IT training). On a student visa, you can get permission from the government to work part time, I think up to around 20 hours per week. It's easiest to ask for it when you first arrive at the airport and they print your foreign residence card. It's just a stamp on the back of it. Your school should send you a form with your visa paperwork; fill it out and hand it over to immigration. The general rule of thumb with the permission is that you can't work anywhere where children aren't allowed (bars, etc.). It's quite easy to find part time work as a foreigner if you speak passable Japanese, though applying can be a little bit complicated. Your school would probably help with applying.

Good luck!

Edited to add: I meant to recommend よつばと!if you're looking to use manga as a study companion. A lot of manga uses language that would never be used in actual conversation, but the characters in Yotsuba speak like actual people according to their ages and positions. It's also easy enough to read that it's not frustrating (looking at you, first page of One Piece!). I started reading it after about nine months of study and found it great for learning a bit of new vocabulary and grammar, but I didn't have to look up every other word. It's also a nice little intro so the Japanese lifestyle/culture with lots of explanations because the main character is adopted from a foreign country.

Edited at 2016-11-15 10:05 am (UTC)
15th-Nov-2016 12:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I know in general with dialects it's "if you know standard language well enough, a dialect isn't a problem", or at least that's how it is with Swedish/Norwegian/Danish anyway, but if you don't speak like how everyone else speaks you'll be treated as even more like an outsider... I just want to be as prepared as possible haha.

I asked my school already, spouses have come abroad with the exchange students before on "family VISA"s & I assume you can work on such a permit (think I even look it up but forgot).

Thanks, that's good info!!

Thanks for Yotsuba, I've read it a bit in Swedish but didn't think of trying it now that I know some Japanese. I already try to read manga/play videogames from time to time and next semester (my 3rd semester) I'll be taking "reading manga" class, and "modern short story" class, so manga suggestions are good. I'm pretty sure manga class is going to have us read Doraemon but I can't say :/

Right now I just read Devilman and like, doujinshi and random adult-ish things LOL. Oh, suggestions for TV to watch or radio to listen to would be good too. I "play" Pokemon (1st gen + X/Y and soon, sun/moon), Ni no kuni, .hack// (first 4 games) and random SNES games but I don't play often at all since class keeps me so busy... I follow a lot of Japanese people on Twitter but I'm not good enough to understand all that they say or their slang yet, and news articles are still a bit too difficult.
16th-Nov-2016 08:14 am (UTC)
Knowing a bit of local dialects does get you some cool points, to be sure, but keep in mind that you'll always be an outsider no matter what. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, depending on your frame of mind.

I checked today, and you can indeed work on a family visa. The level of Japanese your wife would need depends on the type of work she's looking for. Foreign language teachers usually don't need any Japanese. I've met people who came over without knowing anything beyond sayonara and they can find work (often before they arrive). Languages other than English are also a plus, so if she can teach Swedish, there's less demand for it, but it would probably pay more than English. If English isn't her mother-tongue, she'll need to take or have taken the Toeic test. If she doesn't want to teach, most places that hire foreigners full time require N2 certification. Part time jobs are a lot more lax and you can go in with some basics and learn as you go.

I don't have any specific recommendations for TV or radio. I just turn it on usually and watch whatever. I find the variety shows pretty easy to understand, and they often have subtitles (in Japanese) which is nice for reading and listening practice. I also rent western tv shows or movies and watch them in Japanese with Japanese subtitles. The translations are often pretty bad, especially for comedy, but it again works well for listening comprehension.
16th-Nov-2016 03:14 pm (UTC)
Yes, I've already lived in two foreign countries (and still live in one now) so I know about the "outsider" part...

She can teach, as in ability (she taught me all my Swedish and is a hobby-linguist!), but neither of us have degrees or work experience so therein lies the problem. There's no work here where we live so I'm hoping we can either get some work experience during the exchange, or by the time we come back our Japanese will be good enough to be translators or something (as in, start our own translation company if no one will hire us for anything). Either way, my Japanese degree would be almost done after the exchange so once I have the degree I'd be able to go back and teach English in Japan.

So anyway, we'd just want ANY kind of job. Floor-sweeping is fine. But I'm almost blind (-11 sight + photophobia + 60% peripheral vision) so there's a lot of jobs where the employers won't even believe I CAN work, like they doubt I can read the cash register... But I hope I can find something somewhere. If I can go to Miyagi it'd be good, they apparently have a lot to do with disabilities and should be able to give me some info.

Thanks! In general I don't watch TV and I really don't listen to the radio, I think I have to get into the habit of it so I can improve faster but even if it's a show I really like I just push it aside to do other things instead... Do the subs normally actually match what they're saying, or do they edit them (make them summarized/more "proper" language)?
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