We asked our amazing 2023 MEXT scholarship student and volunteer Jay some questions about his time in Japan. Read on to find out about his favourite experiences, best advice, and what being an AFS student means to him!

What did receiving the MEXT scholarship mean to you?

I was ecstatic! I had been wanting to go on a longer exchange, however, due to my age the long programs were not an option. The MEXT scholarship allowed to me live my exchange student dream, even if it was short.

What advice would you give to people applying for the MEXT Program?

Make the most of it! This program is short but filled with new and wonderful experiences. I think the key to this scholarship is being positive. Not letting these new experiences put you in a bad mood. Be open and go with the flow, even if it doesn’t sound fun, the wonderful people that have organised these experiences have put in a lot of thought and want you to have a good time.

Why did you choose to go on an AFS exchange?

I believe AFS has a great sense of community and the staff really care for students that are wanting to go on exchange. AFS has been around for over 75 years and have thousands of members across the world, I think that this opens a world of possibilities when on your exchange. Volunteers are at the heart of AFS and most of the experiences I had would not have been possible without volunteers. 


What was it like living with your host family?

My host family was amazing! They were so kind and welcoming and so interested in learning about me and New Zealand. On my first night, we stayed up until 1 am talking about everything! It’s a memory I often look back on and will forever cherish. They appreciated that I spent most of my time in the common areas with the family.

What was your favourite thing about living in your host country?

It was so exciting to learn another way of living. Japanese culture is so different from New Zealand culture. One of my favourite memories was going to a festival in the neighbouring city where I walked with one of the portable shrines. 

Kanuma Festival 

What was the best part of being an AFS exchange student?

Making new friends!! I have made so many friends from different countries. I will forever remember my fellow MEXT and Mistui Scholarship students as well as my friends from my host school. I found my classmates to be so welcoming and interested in learning about New Zealand. I made a presentation with famous things from New Zealand, things about my school and me and my life in New Zealand and showed it to my entire grade, about 400 people.

< My MEXT friends                    My debate club friends >

If you could say thank you to one person from your exchange, who would it be and why? 

I would love to say a huge thank you to my LP, my support person. Yumiko was so happy to have an exchange student she could look after. We went to Tokyo together and she showed me so much of the city. I hope in future I am able to see her again.

My wonderful LP Yumiko

Are you ready to discover a new life in Japan? Find out more about Japan here and apply for the MEXT scholarship by 15 April 2024 here!