[personal profile] sekoiya
Here's more detailed info for being an exchange student from Högskolan Dalarna to somewhere else:

0. In my Japanese course there was an online presentation by Miyagi University of Education (宮城教育大学) which said, hey, you can come here on exchange! Tuition for exchange students is always (unless you're going to the USA or one other certain country) the same as home tuition, so since swedish schools have no tuition fees for EU/Nordic residents, we don't have to pay any tuition when going to Japan either. Miyagi was suffering from having very few students thanks to the (relatively) recent big earthquake scaring them all away, so they were doing this special advertisement.

I had assumed that going on exchange cost some kind of special tuition like it does in the USA, but hearing that I suddenly knew I could afford to go (if I got a student loan). I'd been living in an abusive house for the past 5 years here in Sweden, and among other things due to those people I was usually only able to really study and work on homework when it's past midnight. That's why I've often shown up to class sleep-deprived and acting weirdly. Since I'm almost blind, a foreigner, and have no work experience, no one's ever hired me. Since I'm a student, social services and the unemployment office can't help me (they've already told me there are no jobs for people like me anyway!). With all those things together I've always constantly felt like I'm barely managing to pass in my degree. I've been spending ALL the time I possibly can studying (even in summer), I've been late on a lot of homework, I was slow in starting school after I first moved here and I've already had to take one semester's break as well thanks to my home life — so going on exchange to Japan isn't just about visiting Japan for me, it's actually something to ensure that I learn enough Japanese that passing the rest of my degree will happen no matter how bad it is at home.

Once my degree is finished I'll be able to find work as an English teacher in Japan and all should be well. But finishing the degree is my current problem.

In order to go on exchange you had to have studied at least a full year of your degree before the exchange time, and by the time I would go I'd have done a year and a half (out of a 3-year degree).

1. The application period was 2016.11.14 to 2017.02.10, but if you missed that you could "late apply". You filled in an online application (creating a special user account just for that site - it's NOT your normal student account!) which just asks some basic information. I also had to Email the head of the Japanese department to get a copy of the other papers I had to fill out, which included "why do you want to go on exchange" and "a detailed plan of how the exchange will fit into your degree schedule". The plan is just you listing which classes you plan to take, in which semesters in order to finish your degree at HD, and marking where the exchange would be if you were allowed to go.

There were 3 Japanese schools I could pick from if I wanted, so I listed all three as places I wanted to go. Miyagi (at the time at least) was only accepting 3 students from HD per year; I assume the other schools have a similar limit. I applied to go for a full year starting in autumn 2017.

2. Miyagi offered 1 full-year stipend to 1 student from HD via the Japanese government, meaning you'd get about $1000 USD a month for a year and you'd also get to go to Miyagi. 4 people applied to it including me, but I didn't win it. In order to apply I had to get a Swedish passport (cost about $30 and took just 2-3 days to arrive), show proof of citizenship and/or my birth certificate (I showed both), get grade transcripts (I only got the ones from my Swedish university because no other ones would have arrived in time) and take some ID-sized photos via a photobooth. You were supposed to fill out the stipend application in Japanese if you could, I did maybe 1/3rd in Japanese. I don't know how they choose who wins but there's no room for extra comments or explanations about your circumstances, so for example, they don't know if you're employed or disabled or not.

3. I got a reply around March 15th saying I'd passed the first selection round to Miyagi and that there would be an (online) info meeting for all HD outgoing exchange students a week later. The info meeting said "now that you've passed the first round it's really unheard of for the foreign school to not accept you". Only 60 people from HD were going to be exchange students this round — to any country. They had about 200 incoming students from foreign countries. HD has no rules about what you can and can't do during the exchange, where you can and can't live etc, all that is either up to the partner school or up to you. So if you want to live with friends/relatives instead of in a normal apartment, you can.

Because too many people applied to go to Japan this time they were making it so NO ONE to Japan was allowed to go for a full year because that takes up "exchange slots", instead more people were allowed to go total but everyone would only go for one semester instead. Their policy is always to let as many people as possible go on exchange. If enough people decide not to go, we MIGHT be able to extend our stay to a full year later on.

The situation right now:
— We're waiting for the Japanese schools to Email us info on how to apply to them (the second stage in the nomination process), meaning a list of classes we can choose to take, which type of housing we want and so on. WHEN they notify us varies not by country but by individual school, so some'll give out info two weeks from now and others won't give anything out until August.



May 2017

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