The Good, The Bad, and The Unexpected Past Review

By (Comparative Literature, East Asian Studies, Brandeis University) - abroad from 03/28/2018 to 07/31/2018 with

CIEE: Tokyo - Arts and Sciences

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
In my program, I was surrounded by American students from all around the states. This reminded me that there are people who have drastically different ways of life than me--people who don't necessarily value the same things that I and my peers at Brandeis do. It was disappointing, and eye opening, to hear the harmful things coming out of these people's mouths, but it reminded me that there is still so much work to do for those invested in social change such as myself.

Review Photos

CIEE: Tokyo - Arts and Sciences Photo CIEE: Tokyo - Arts and Sciences Photo CIEE: Tokyo - Arts and Sciences Photo

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.

Classes weren't necessarily academically challenging, with the exception of my language class, which was much tougher than any language classes back home.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

CIEE staff was always available and willing to help.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived at a residential dorm, called DK House, located in Nerima Tokyo. We had a few safety issues, and the general atmosphere was unpleasant.

* Food:

I loved every single thing I ate in Tokyo.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I've been learning Japanese for around 8 years now, and this wasn't my first time going to Japan, so I didn't feel too culture shocked in that sense. However, it was difficult to talk about the same things I do back home with my friends--politics, feminism, etc.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I lucked out and didn't get sick once.

* Safety:

I was harassed in Ikebukuro while walking around at night, but otherwise, everything was pretty safe.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

Tokyo is a crowded city. I knew this coming in. But what I didn't know was the full scope of what that meant. I was unprepared for the harrowing hour long commute to and from campus every single day in the sweltering summer heat where I was physically pressed into strangers to the point of mild suffocation. It was unpleasant, to say the very least. This sounds like a relatively small issue, but this commute heightened my anxiety and stress every single day, and filled me with dread to get up in the morning to attend school for four months. As someone who loves school, I was frustrated and upset that I started every day on campus in a terrible anxiety filled state. Location wise, I regret not going to Kyoto.


* 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)

Tokyo is an expensive city, but nothing more notably expensive than Boston or New York.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $200-250
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Plan your week out and keep track of what you buy each day!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Japanese 120B (last level at my school)
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Try to live with a host family who will either encourage you to use Japanese or refuse to speak English with you. It'll be hard, but well worth the effort.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* 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?
  • The program gave us lots of opportunities to explore different cities/activities all around Japan.
  • I was able to maintain a sense of independence traveling around Tokyo during the day.
  • I loved the food.
* What could be improved?
  • More clarity in terms of how CIEE communicated their changes/expectations with us.
  • A dorm manager who is more cognizant of the safety issues occurring in his building.
  • More academically rigorous class options.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known how heavily I'd be affected by life in the big city. I thought that since I've lived in LA and Boston, I would be able to handle the scope of Tokyo.