CIEE logo
  Explore All CIEE Programs

Program Sections

The Experience

Become fluent in Japanese as you live and study in the heart of this unique and lively Asian culture.

A land of four main islands (and more than 6,000 smaller ones), Japan has many common denominators: noodle stands on nearly every corner (ramen or udon — take your pick!), top-notch public transportation, and super-friendly people who are polite and eager to help others — foreigners included. Five days a week, you’ll experience life at a public or private high school, in classes taught solely in Japanese. Fully immersed in teen life, lingo, and both traditional and pop culture, you’ll make huge strides in language proficiency before you know it. On weekends, enjoy the company of your host family! Spend time playing games, eating delicious home-cooked food, or visiting local shrines and temples.

“There are a few really key things that I find extremely different from American schools. First: People actually want to come to school. In America, everyone just wants to get out of school ASAP. In Japanese school, no one is upset about being at school. Second: The teachers are a lot closer to the students. I’ve never seen students interact with a teacher in such a way.”

–Josef R., CIEE High School Abroad Alumnus

Students smiling
Host family siblings get in on the fun.
People walking up to temples
History comes to life on tours of ancient temples.


Upon arriving in Japan with your fellow participants, you will be met by local staff in Tokyo, where you will begin your three-day orientation. During orientation, you will participate in different activities and workshops focusing on a variety of themes — culture, language, academics, social norms, current events — all designed to best prepare you for your experience in Japan. Additionally, you’ll see some of the best that Tokyo has to offer!

Enjoy spending time in Japan’s most dynamic, exciting city! You’ll laugh over incredible food during group meals each evening, while getting to know CIEE staff and other participants. You and the other participants will do a bit of sightseeing before departing for your host community to spend a couple of days with your host family before starting school.

The Destination

Buddhist temples, Zen gardens, and the pop-tech wonder of Tokyo — study, live, and learn in Japan for an unforgettable life experience.

Picture yourself in Japan:

Getting a feel for Japanese slang during lunch with new classmates. Finding your voice and a flair for performance during a night of karaoke with friends. Learning how to hand-roll sushi with your host mother or host father.

Regardless of where in the country you’re placed, Japan offers a fascinating contrast of ancient and ultramodern. During your stay, you’ll explore the country’s rich history, perfect your Japanese language skills, and discover the courage to step out of your comfort zone and truly immerse yourself in another country.

City scene
Be amazed.
Buddha sculpture
Find your zen.
Students in front of temple
Seize the moment.

The Take-Aways

Language Proficiency

Regardless of your level of proficiency upon entry, you’ll make dramatic strides in your Japanese language skills while immersed in the Japanese high school experience. Return home with remarkably improved conversational skills, ready to ace the next level of Japanese language classes in the United States.

Based on ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, CIEE High School Abroad participants improve, on average, two language levels during the course of the program.

The CIEE High School Abroad program provides students more language contact hours in just a few weeks than the average U.S. high school student receives through high school language classes in an entire academic year — 150 hours.*

*Alice Omaggio Hadley’s Teaching Language in Context

Local Transcript

You will receive an official record of classes and grades from your local school in Japan. Credit transfer will vary from school to school, country to country, so please consult with your U.S. school guidance counselor.

Student looking up
Elevate your language proficiency. See where it takes you.

“I’m honestly not kidding when I say that I am a different person from the Alex that started this exchange program 10 months ago. I am deeply indebted to all the teachers and staff that accepted me into their school and have helped make this such a special and unforgettable experience. I did the best I could to express my feelings of gratitude and appreciation in Japanese, and I guess that I was successful.”

– Alex M., CIEE High School Abroad Alumnus

Global Citizenship

After immersing yourself in unfamiliar practices and customs, you’ll become better equipped to interact with people from other cultures — in school, on the job, or in your personal life. In today’s interconnected global economy, intercultural skills have never been more important.

94% of participants said their intercultural understanding and knowledge improved as a result of their participation in the CIEE High School Abroad program, while 93% said their experience made them more aware of global issues.

“Being abroad in Japan definitely opened my eyes to a new culture, and how a new group of people lived their lives. I have since implemented many elements into my daily life, and it often helps me look at problems or situations with new eyes.”

– Alexander M., CIEE High School Abroad Alumnus

Independence & Resilience

Come home better prepared to make transitions, take control of new situations, and appreciate challenging experiences for what they are: opportunities to learn and grow.

90% of participants said their level of independence increased as a result of their participation in the CIEE High School Abroad program.

“I learned things that aren’t taught in schools: what is really important to me, what I want out of life, and how to be more open-minded and confident.”

– Sophie R., CIEE High School Abroad Alumna

College Readiness

Studying abroad gives you the kinds of life skills that can’t be learned in a classroom — and shows college admissions reps that you’re already one step ahead in terms of initiative, maturity, and independence.

79% of participants said their experience with CIEE helped shape their college applications.

“Everyone is shocked to hear that I studied abroad when I was 15 years old. I’m shocked myself — yet, quite frankly, I’m shocked that it isn’t more common to study abroad in high school. CIEE gave me an opportunity that most people have never heard of. The program transformed me into the person I am today, with impeccable people skills and the ability to adapt to any environment. I owe a huge thanks to the CIEE program. I am proud to be a CIEE alumnus!”

- Alex A., CIEE High School Abroad Alumnus

Passion & Direction

Upon return, you’ll likely have a better sense of what you want to study in college or even pursue as a career.

86% of participants felt their experience with CIEE impacted their educational or career pursuits and goals, while 96% of participants said they regularly use the knowledge and skills they acquired while abroad with CIEE.

Sample Activities & Excursions

Explore Buddhist temples, imperial palaces, and even anime studios — you’ll never run out of adventures in Japan.

Japan is a country of dramatic contrasts and a fascinating place to study. From the cutting-edge tech center of Tokyo to serene Zen gardens, the “Land of the Rising Sun” is rich in culture (both pop and traditional) as well as natural beauty. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to visit places that suit your taste: museums, anime or manga studios, kitschy cat cafés, imperial palaces, and famous shrines and temples. Nearly every Japanese town has at least one Buddhist temple, while large cities like Kyoto have several hundred.

Wherever you’re placed to live and study, you are only a bus or bullet-train ride away from a range of amazing destinations. You’ll have a whole year or semester to discover the country — on your own, with new CIEE friends, and with your host family.

Road covered by cherry blossoms
Get lost in cherry blossoms.
City Skyline
Discover the city’s unique charms.

Meet the Staff

Nina Wineburgh

Enrollment Coordinator

Nina’s passion for international education stems from her own experience living with a host family and attending a local high school in a small town outside of Avignon, France during her sophomore year of high school.

Upon her return to the U.S. with refreshed perspectives and yearning for cross-cultural exploration, Nina continued to pursue her interest in the French language and immersive experiences.

As a French & Francophone studies major in college, she spent a semester studying and living in Nantes, France, and a semester in Rabat, Morocco, on a CIEE-led program. She is thrilled to help facilitate short and long term study abroad programs for high school students with the hope that their experiences are as transformative and inspiring as hers was.

Rachel Babich

Enrollment Coordinator

Rachel has been committed to supporting study abroad since high school, when she traveled through Europe on a cultural exchange program. Returning home with a greater understanding of her world, she sought out opportunities to see new cultures. Through studying in the South of France, living and working in Paris, and traveling to over 25 countries, Rachel has seen firsthand the power of immersive study.

Since then, she has been helping American and international students experience the transformative opportunities study abroad can bring. She is excited to help high school students and their families have a great experience studying with CIEE!

Quick Info

Back to top of page