Language Society

Career Benefits of Foreign Language Study in Japan: University Students (Part 2)

Why you actually should major in a foreign language

If you’re not technically inclined, or plan to become a doctor or lawyer, then you’ve been relegated to a position in which your options are to either study something that you don’t actually want to do, or pick a field of study that could cost you a lot of money, and, according to many experts, leave you jobless or working for low wages forever. It’s a nightmare predicament, but it might also be as fictitious a fear as any nightmare. If your passion is foreign languages, allow me to shed some light on why you really should just make it your major field of study.

You can get paid to study

Someone who came from a similarly disadvantaged background as myself once told me that my major fields of study were a luxury. Even though I was working as a janitor at the time, and she was moderately successful in business, she seemed to think that poor people have no choice but to study something which will yield a return on their investments. Like many, she believed in earning a “money” degree, as she had herself earned one. There are bills, there are expenses like student loans to consider. For some, the thought of studying a foreign language in college just seems too financially risky to take the plunge.

What many people don’t realize is that foreign language study, and foreign study in general, is actually very well-funded by the aforementioned government, institutional, and private grants. These opportunities are numerous enough to warrant their own article, but here’s a few of the US government-funded scholarships for studying abroad:

Gilman Scholarship - Up to $8,000 to study abroad on approved programs. The most accessible national scholarship of its kind (high acceptance rate).

CLS scholarship - 2 months immersion in foreign language, all-inclusive scholarship program.

FLAS Scholarship – funding provided by the US government, distributed through qualified universities for language study. See your university adviser for details.

Boren Fellowship – up to $24,000 to study a foreign language abroad, with a service agreement to the US government.

This list is not exhaustive, and doesn’t include the various opportunities available through independent organizations, your university’s scholarship programs, and even (especially?) foreign governments. In summary, if your goal is to learn a foreign language, there is money available to make it happen.

You can save a lot of money by studying abroad

You might be too poor not to study abroad. What I am about to tell you will be shocking for many, but it really is true: you can save a great deal of money on your education by studying abroad. For the sake of comparison, I’ll use my home city and university. Seattle may be an extreme example, but I digress.

In Seattle, a small studio apartment can easily cost you $800 a month. That’s definitely cheap by Seattle standards, mind you. In Sapporo, Japan, a spacious one bedroom apartment will cost you about $450 a month.

Multiply that $350 you save each month by the 6 months or 1 year you would be studying abroad, and you’ll begin to see what I’m talking about. Study in a more rural area and you could be spending as little as $250 a month on rent.

As America pretty much tops the list of expensive places to study in, countries like Japan with it’s “high” tuition rates are still much cheaper than standard tuition rates at American universities. Germany has no tuition, while many other European nations have very small (and sometimes no) tuition fees. The UK is the notable exception, which has high tuition rates like the US.

This article is split into three parts, so be sure to check out part 1 & part 3 as well!

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