Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Benefits of Student Exchange?
- Broaden your education through immersion in another culture both in school life and living with a host family
- Your language skills are greatly improved through practical immersion.
- Students learn to analyse the things around them in a constructive manner and learn how to solve problems on their own.
- Enhanced interest in global issues as well as a broader general knowledge.
- Students who go on to tertiary studies find themselves more comfortable in ‘foreign’ environments, and their superior language skills can provide an academic advantage in their studies.
- Self-development and awareness leading to greater self-confidence and self-esteem. This is often the most noticeable change in returned exchange students.
- Maturity and social poise, fuelled by the necessity to confront challenges outside a familiar support network and comfort zone.
- Students learn to confront social challenges outside of their comfort zones and deal with problems head-on.
- The sense of accomplishment felt upon completion of exchange program encourages students to develop independent opinions, make informed decisions and strive to attain fresh goals.
- Prospective employers in almost every field look favourably upon experience gained while living overseas and knowledge obtained of another language and culture.
- Increased pressure to communicate and relate to others develops an awareness of group dynamics and personal sensitivity towards others.
- Successful program completion represents an excellent measure of personal flexibility, encompassing an ability to reach compromise, focus and succeed through challenging times.
When should I go?
Of course, you can choose to go at any time during your high school years provided that you have turned 15 at time of departure. However, we recommend that you seriously consider going before you finish school (Gap Year).
There are a number of advantages to going before you graduate – for example: upon your return your Japanese skills will be far more advanced than your fellow students, which will give you a huge advantage academically, and will also allow you to concentrate more on other subjects.
How do I decide which duration is best for me?
Many students are unsure of which length of program to choose. It may be helpful to consider the following points in making your decision:
A final decision regarding duration must be made no later than 1 week following your interview if you reach that stage of the application process.
AIIU are mindful of choosing students who display the personal and academic qualities required to succeed on exchange.
Duration - Points to consider
Settling in during the first 3months
The first 2 - 3 months are the most challenging time of adjustment as the students are still adapting to their new environment. By the end of 3 months students listening skills are more highly tuned and they are now just beginning to use their increased vocabulary to converse more easily with others. They are still quite reliant on the use of their translation dictionary. They have established good friendships and now feel more comfortable with their new life in Japan.
Most students have developed sufficient vocabulary to be able to carry on a decent conversation without the constant use of their electronic dictionary. They now feel a part of their new environment and even find themselves noticing “the foreigners!” From this point on, the students Japanese ability will increase rapidly.
Students who complete the 10 month exchange and return to Australia to complete their senior schooling will be greatly advantaged in their Japanese class. They will have less academic stress by the fact that they can achieve excellent grades in Japanese with minimal effort; thus allowing more study focus on their more challenging subjects.
By the end of 10 months exchange most students return with a high level of fluency in the Japanese language and have gained a greater knowledge and understanding of Japanese culture and lifestyle from their opportunity to live the life of a Japanese high school student.
They also possess a greater understanding of their own potential and see the opportunities that their world has to offer. Students display a high motivation to achieve their academic best combined with a desire to find a way to return to Japan as they now feel that they have 2 homes; Australian and Japanese. Both are incredibly important to them.
What is the Japanese Language Proficiency Test?
10 month students who depart in March have the opportunity to sit the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) held in July and early December.
This test is conducted both in Japan and outside Japan to evaluate and certify the language proficiency of primarily non-native speakers of Japanese.
The test is administered by Japan Education Exchanges and Services, inside Japan, and by the Japan Foundation outside Japan.
For further information go to jees.or.jp/jlpt/en or simply Google JLPT to visit many other informative sites.
What are the benefits of taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test?
Studying for this test provides a concrete goal for 10 month students and greatly assists them to maintain their academic focus during exchange.
By obtaining this Japanese Language Proficiency Certificate many students who go on to university may be advantaged by entering their University course in Japanese at a higher entry level.
They may also use this certificate to support their application for a University exchange to Japan during their University course.
If I don’t take the test does this reflect negatively on my exchange outcomes?
The test is not compulsory.
The results of the test are confidential and are only sent to the student and in no way impact on your reputation as an exchange student.
Is my child too young to be on exchange for 10 months?
Age is not a barrier to coping with a different culture or learning a new language.
Students who enjoy new experiences and possess a positive attitude are well suited to exchange.
I will miss my child too much if he/she goes for 10 months
This is an understandable and common feeling for parents and siblings of exchange students.
This feeling passes during the first three months as the gap left by your absent child starts to fill with life’s daily demands.
Other siblings often benefit from the extra time that their parents now have for them. The exchange duration flies by, before you know it they’re coming home and having to readjust to Aussie life.
How safe is Japan?
Japan is one of the safest countries in the world which is why AIIU has continued to conduct exchange to Japan for the past 20 years.
Japanese people are very honest and student’s who have left belongings behind on public transport usually find that it has been handed in to the lost property for them to collect.
Students are advised to use the usual precautions for personal safety and to talk to their host family or school / local counselor if they have any concerns about their safety.
AIIU Students overwhelmingly report that their exchange experience is one that they will cherish forever.
"Unbelievable year abroad…I can’t even think of the words to express my gratitude to everyone who contributed to my stay in Japan. It was the most challenging year of my life so far, but by far the most rewarding and memorable."