Memories Forever Past Review

By (Grand View University) - abroad from 07/08/2016 to 07/27/2016 with

Athena Study Abroad: Kyoto - Hellenic International Studies in the Arts / Summer

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how different countries perceive America and how they perceive themselves. I was able to better understand how Japanese history and their society is affected by their history and geography. I was also able to clear up some misunderstandings I had about Japan. I thought the trip was very worthwhile.

Review Photos

Athena Study Abroad: Kyoto - Hellenic International Studies in the Arts / Summer Photo Athena Study Abroad: Kyoto - Hellenic International Studies in the Arts / Summer Photo Athena Study Abroad: Kyoto - Hellenic International Studies in the Arts / Summer Photo Athena Study Abroad: Kyoto - Hellenic International Studies in the Arts / Summer Photo Athena Study Abroad: Kyoto - Hellenic International Studies in the Arts / Summer Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I really loved being there in Kyoto and our house was in a really great location. I thought we made good use of the location. Our teachers were always available and they were really involved.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The only thing I didn't like about our house was that each room was at a different level. Otherwise than that, I loved our housing as it was traditional and in the Gion district.

* Food:

I miss Japanese food now that I am at home, but the food there was always good. I never got sick eating any of it. I wish I knew how to read more Japanese labels because I would have really loved to have actually cooked with the food there. Even the convenience store food was good and I was able to eat everything I wanted to like sushi, bento boxes, etc. It really opened my eyes to how a different country eats food compared to American food which seems really sugary coming back now and sweet.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt like I was pretty integrated with the local culture, although of course, it would have been better if I'd been able to speak Japanese on a more conversational level. I really enjoyed living there though and I definitely think the three weeks was enough time to experience it. I think anything else would be too short although having a longer program wouldn't be bad either.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any health problems during the program, although I stayed an extra week by myself after the program ended and I caught a cold during then. It was fine though as I'd brought my own medicine and it wasn't anything serious. The only thing I did differently from back home was make different soup and I wore a facemask like the Japanese do when they get sick so I wouldn't cough on anyone in public. There was one specific vaccine I could have gotten for going to Japan, but I didn't get it because it's only really for rural areas and we were mostly staying in urban areas.

* Safety:

I felt really safe in Japan. A lot more safe there than I do at home. Especially in Kyoto, and as a small woman, I felt safe even walking around by myself after dark. I never had any problems. Back at home, I would never walk around as confidently as I did in Japan. Apparently Japan as a public groping problem on public transportation and I would caution other students about that but I never experienced it myself. If booking hostels or hotels ever, I would like any trip, be aware of the area your hostel or hotel is in and when walking around, always be aware of your surroundings. Know what number to call when you need help, know how to shout help or something in the local language, and keep an eye out for safe places you can walk into if you feel threatened. Like even walking into a convenience store is a good option if you need to get off the streets.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

I knew ahead going into the program roughly how much I would be spending and I thought I budgeted well for it. I had more than enough money and I kept a record of how much I spent and how much I had left.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $200
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Do your research ahead of time, know that Japan is still mostly a money based society, have a backup plan for attaining money, have a credit card on you, and keep a budget. Don't needlessly spend your money although you will feel the urge to. Be realistic about it.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Just being in Japan
  • Expierencing the culture
  • Food
* What could be improved?
  • An english instruction on cooking
  • Better washing facilities for clothes
  • Not much
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew a little bit more Japanese, although I got by fine with English, I think the whole experience would have been a lot more educational and fun if I'd be able to communicate with the locals in Japanese to a better degree. I wish I had a better idea how much money I'd spend per week and how much food would cost.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Japanese Art, Culture, and Literature

Course Department: N/A
Instructor: Jennifer Norris
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I didn't think the class was super challenging, although it took plenty of work. We made use of the location and lots of field trips. I thought my teachers were knowledgeable and well prepared. And I participated in class more often than I would have back at home because you had to be there for every class which was pretty much every day. We were assessed by papers, homework, and presentations.
Credit Transfer Issues: N/A