Wish I could've studied for a year instead of a semester at Sophia Past Review

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 03/27/2017 to 07/30/2017 with

CIEE: Tokyo - Arts and Sciences

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My Japanese language skills improved considerably through Japanese class and living with a host family. I'm also glad that I met students from other American colleges who were not in the CIEE program, foreign students who were Sophia students, and Japanese Sophia students.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I heard a number of complaints, such as how one of the CIEE administrators basically disappeared after orientation. Sometimes, we didn't receive information in a timely manner. Overall though, Aya is a sweetheart and everyone who works in the office is quite nice and helpful.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My homestay was about an hour away from Sophia University, which actually wasn't that bad because I only had one transfer stop. The perk to living far away is that I had many more "free" stops on my commuter pass. The students who lived in the middle of the city (only 3 or 4ppl) had fewer stations they could go to for free. The only downside to my homestay experience was that they didn't have a dryer; but this was expected as most Japanese don't use drying machines. Although the dorm had drying machines, I heard they were useless - they could only fully dry 3~4 pieces of clothing. A complaint I heard about the dorm was that everyone's room quality was different: some rooms were bigger, some had mini fridges in them, etc.

* Food:

Sophia University has 2 convenience stores and 4 dining halls. The food is really cheap and better than anything you can get at an average American college. You can find good cheap food; but you'll probably spend more on food than you think you will.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Sophia University students are really nice and welcoming towards international students. There are student clubs for foreign students to meet Japanese students: SISEC, SOCOMI, and Lingwave. Each have a certain reputation. I liked SISEC the most because they would host events frequently. The Japanese friends I became closest to were also SISEC members.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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

Sophia University is a great study abroad location in Japan. While many Japanese universities offer exchange programs and have an international department for foreign students, some universities don't have the social structure for foreign students to fully immerse themselves and interact with local students. I know a friend who's studying in Osaka, and the foreign students are basically their own little group because the Japanese students ignore them (for the most part). Because Sophia University is renowned for their language programs, the students are much more likely to try and strike up a conversation with you or include you. That's not to say that it's easy to befriend a local Japanese student; but it is relatively easier at Sophia.


* 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)

It's relatively easy to live on a student's budget ($100/week) because school food is so cheap and there are cheap supermarkets. I rated 2 stars because I personally spent more per week.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $250-300


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
How many hours per day did you use the language?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • Free organized cultural events by CIEE
* What could be improved?
  • Send out the weekly emails every week and not once a month
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I would have to buy a SIM card with a local phone number. The deadline to buy one was short, so I ended up buying CIEE's because I didn't have enough time to search for a better deal in Tokyo.

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 Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.