During my exchange in Japan every person I’ve met wanted to know why I chose Japan and not some other country to go on exchange to. I guess most people thought that I’d say that I like watching anime. Which isn’t true. The reason why I did an exchange year in Japan is much simpler.
I Thought About Doing An Exchange Year In America
In second grade of junior high school, I was thinking about going on exchange to the United States. I wanted to live in a country which isn’t Switzerland. So that I can experience something completely different. And the first country that came to my mind were the United States.
But after actually thinking about it I realised that my English was already pretty good and that the USA aren’t that different from Switzerland. So I threw that idea away and stopped thinking about going on exchange for a while.
My First Time In Japan
In autumn of 2017 I went to Japan for the first time. Together with my father I‘ve spent two weeks traveling across almost the whole country. We’ve visited so many beautiful and interesting places that I became quite fascinated.
I felt like the two weeks we’ve spent there were way too short and that I’d have to go again to really get to know this country better. But that alone didn’t spark my interest in spending one whole year there.
Japan Is Different
When I went to Japan the first time I might have experienced a culture shock. There are so many things that you just don’t see outside of Japan. For example toilet lids that open themselves as soon as you enter the bathroom, the immense amount of vending machines, food samples, speaking objects, they sleep on the floor, etc.
Because of those differences, I fell in love with Japan. But that’s still not what made me want to study there.
Why I Did An Exchange Year In Japan
On our second or third day in Japan, we saw some students wearing their uniforms. Nothing special but then my father suddenly said: „Don’t you want to wear a uniform? You could do an exchange year here and be just like them (lol)”
My first reaction was something like: „WTF?! I can‘t even speak Japanese…“ That’s also the reaction I later got from friends when I told them that I’d be going to Japan next summer.
Then on the next day my father said the exact same thing again. I didn‘t find that funny, so I sarcastically replied: „Great idea! I‘ll do it“
And that’s how it all started. I started thinking about what it would be like living in Japan, what cool things I’d experience throughout this year, how many new friends I’d make and so on. “Me doing an exchange year in Japan” became somewhat like our running gag. Whenever I had the opportunity I’d joke about going on exchange there and laugh. But the more I said it the more I thought about doing it. And the more I thought about it the more I wanted to do it.
I think the main factor that made me go on exchange to Japan was the fact that I didn’t want to regret not having done it. During just those two weeks I’ve spent traveling there I experienced so many new things.
So what about spending one whole year there? Wouldn’t that be the best year of my life? I could make new friends, learn a new language, experience life in a completely different country, eat Japanese food all of the time and have the best time of my life.
Of course I had fears like:
- losing contact with my Swiss friends
- not being able to communicate in Japan
- not making any new friends (Guide on how to find friends in Japan)
- wasting one year of my life
But if I didn’t go, how could I know that those would come true? I thought that if I don’t do it, I’d only regret not having done it – even if I had failed and thus “wasted” one year of my life. That was my biggest fear and it was also the reason why I did an exchange year in Japan.
Thanks to my dad for making this stupid joke. Without that my life wouldn’t be the same as it is today.
Want To Do An Exchange Year In Japan?
Find a host family in Japan: Homestay in Japan
Study Japanese in Japan: Lexis Japan
Exchange program (if you’re from Switzerland): Akzent Sprachbildung
Of course there are many other companies that provide similar services, but these are the ones I’ve used and I can only say positive things about them. And none of them is paying me to mention them.