On June 13th, the yen fell sharply against the dollar. After her overseas study plans were disrupted by the COVID 19 epidemic, Yu Nagashima could finally enjoy campus life and in-person classes in California.
But the yen soon went up against the dollar, and Nagashima found that her savings in Japan were quickly being used up.
Nagashima, 31, said I had the worst luck. There are other students who are more struggling than me, so I mustn't keep whining. The yen has made it more difficult for Japanese students to study in the United States, particularly in expensive places because of its sharp depreciation.
The novel coronaviruses caused a drop in Japanese students studying overseas, and the weaker yen could hamper government efforts to increase the study-abroad figure to pre-pandemic levels.
Nagashima used to work in sales at a human resources company in Japan, but she wanted a change in life and enrolled in a two-year college in California in autumn 2020.
With COVID 19 travel restrictions in place, Nagashima remained in Japan and took online courses for the first year.
She moved to the United States in August 2021 and began attending classes on campus.
The exchange rate was about 110 yen to the dollar at the time of her relocation. By June 13th, the Japanese currency had fallen to 135 yen, its lowest level in almost 24 years.
Nagashima is able to use her Japanese savings account via a U.S. bank to cover her tuition and living expenses.
She said that the United States' prices are 1.5 times higher than in Japan.
She said that foreign students are not allowed to have part-time jobs because they are not allowed to have part-time jobs.
Nagashima said she sometimes consumes oatmeal and ready-to eat miso soup provided by the college for free.
On June 1, she received a bill for $4,850. She received 58 for her autumn tuition. She is concerned about how she will cover the payment.
Nagashima originally thought about moving to a four-year university, but she gave up on the idea because of the delays caused by the Pandemic and the high costs associated with the weaker yen.
Karin Fujii, 20, who attends a four-year university in the state of New York, is worried about the yen slide.
She and her fellow Japanese students have been concerned about tuition for the next semester since May.
Half of her tuition is covered by scholarships, according to Fujii. She still has to pay about 1.5 million yen a year in school fees, which her parents have covered.
In light of the yen's depreciation, she started thinking about skipping a year or trying to graduate sooner.
She said that she was determined to graduate within a year because she wanted to reduce the burden on my parents.
The number of Japanese students studying abroad in fiscal 2018 was a record high 115,146, according to the education ministry.
In fiscal 2020, it dropped to a record low of 1,487 because of the Pandemic.
The ministry said it plans to bring the number back to around 100,000 by the year 2027.
A panel of the Central Council for Education, an advisory organization to the ministry, held a meeting on June 22. There were concerns about the risks and impact of the weaker yen on students studying overseas.
A ministry official said that they wanted to be creative in ways to increase the number of Japanese students studying abroad.