Let me add my two cents
About studying japanese this is the things I would have done if I returned back to the March 2019
If you have a small or nonexistant knowledge of Japanese before this program, I would highly suggest starting by learning hiragana and katakana and then Kanji. Hiragana and Katakana are required knowledge for starting the studies so you definitely need to learn them during summer and Kanjis are not taught in school and there is over 2000 of them so I would really suggest an early start. Additional reason to start learning kanjis really early for me would be that Kanjis have very different ways of pronounciation so it would be better to know the Kanji and then through everyday Japanese study learn the readings. The book that was very helpful for me was Heisigs book Remembering the Kanji 1: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters
. This book does not teach you a single japanese word but instead teaches you how to recognize and remember individual Kanjis when you see them, making it easier to learn how to read it later. For me this approach is amazing but I wish I started it earlier so I could have maximized my Kanji learning during the school as right now I have the most trouble when I go to the pool and I can understand the sign but I cannot read it
Of course there are other ways of going around this and I cannot tell you that this is the best method, it is just the one I think works the best for me.
The reason I don't really tell you to study japanese much is because in school you are probably going to be split in beginners, intermediate group or expert like Mario. It took us 2 months and 25 hours of studying at school per week + studying at home to catch up with the stuff intermediate group studied in the first month. At the end of beginners study I can say that we are able to speak nice basic Japanese and try to communicate our way in restaurants or bars, although I must admit we do often ask our smarter intermediate group senpais to take over when our Japanese fails
From what I have gathered, most intermediate people have studied Japanese for at least a year before coming to Japan.
And about money issue, it is not ideal, the first grant comes only at the end of september
. Although you can ask for some money in advance but I dont think it is much. I personally am not the most careful spender here in Japan and I am running low on money right now but I do not really care as it is the only time I have ever been to Japan and I want to do as many trips as possible and try as many things as possible. I think money comes secondary compared to the lifetime experiences
Sorry for long post, if you want to discuss privately, feel free to PM me